Cold, salt and snow can all play a part in irritating your dog’s feet.  Here’s what the vets at East Side Animal Hospital recommend you do to protect your pet’s tootsies.


Does Salt Hurt My Dogs Paws?


In general, the de-icers scattered onto the streets and sidewalks of New York City are not ideal for your pet to walk on, but they vary in their negative effects on paws and a dog’s health.  When dogs with open cracks, sores, or cuts on their paws walk on salted streets, their feet burn the same way that your skin burns if you were to get salt into a cut.  Mostly the salts dry your pet’s paws which can have a cumulative effect of causing your dog’s paw pads to crack and/or itch, creating a downward spiral of negative effects during a long winter.


Are Street Salts Toxic To Dogs?


Street salts that are ingested can be irritating for your dog’s stomach and if ingested in large enough quantities, fatal.  Magnesium or potassium chloride salts, if consumed, can be lethal to pets with kidney disease.  Any pet that eats rock salt, in large enough quantities, is also at risk of death.


Do Not Let Your Dog Drink Melted Snow or Puddles


Never let your dog drink from standing pools of water during the winter (or any any other time of year for that matter) or to eat New York City snow.  Both may contain street salts in solution.  Additionally, leptospirosis, a sometimes fatal bacterial disease transmitted by rat and mouse urine, can be contracted from drinking standing pools of New York City street water.


Pet Friendly De-icers


According to Consumer Reports, there are three de-icers that are better for your dog’s paws than others.  Keep in mind that in the case of magnesium and potassium chloride, pets with kidney disease should be kept from consuming the product because both chemicals are toxic and can create fatal outcomes.


Potassium Chloride


This salt has minimal effects on the environment and is considered to be more pet friendly than other street de-icers.  Because it is not effective at temperatures below 25 degrees, it is not often used at commercial properties.


Magnesium Chloride


This is a widely used street salt because it works at temperatures as low as -13 degrees.  It is relatively safe on for the environment, but can be toxic to dogs with kidney disease when ingested.




This non-salt de-icer is the most pet friendly de-icer available.  Despite its name, this chemical is not manufactured from urea, but from natural gas and has a chemical formula of (NH2)2CO.  It is very safe for environment, but the nitrogen contained in the urea can be injurious to plants in large quantities (but in small quantities, will turn your plants emerald green by spring).  It’s effective at temperatures as low as 10 degrees, but is better at more moderate temperatures between 25-30 degrees.


Protect My Dogs Paw From Street Salt


There are three best practices when it comes to protecting your dogs feet from the de-icers used all over New York during the winter.


Dog Booties


Dog booties are excellent at protecting dog’s feet.   Our East Side veterinarians picked the best brand for you to consider.  Some pets require time to get used to them.  It’s best to allow pets to walk around inside with the boots on to get started before taking them on their regular walks.

Dog Paw Wax


Think of it as chapstick for the feet.  These products both protect and moisturize your dogs feet.  They help provide an extra layer of protection against street salts and counter the effects of winter’s dry air.

Wipe the Feet


If you do nothing else, take time to wipe your dogs feet clean with a damp cloth after your pet’s walk. No soap is necessary.

Going somewhere soon?  East Side Animal Hospital provides great boarding options for dogs and cats.

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