When it comes to having cold feet, your pet may be an expert. Winter is filled with dangers that can damage your pet’s paws. You likely know that walking barefoot through the snow can be quite chilly for your pet’s paws, but what other winter hazards put your pet’s paws at risk? We put together a list of winter dangers that have the paw-tential to injure your pet.
1. Ice Melts and Salt
Ice melts and salt may be effective at keeping your walkway ice-free and your driveway drivable, but be cautious when it comes to letting your pet walk over them. Ice melts and coarse salt can create abrasions in your pet’s paws, which can lead to damage and infection rather quickly.
Salt and ice melts also easily cling to your cat’s or dog’s paw-fur, leading to the risk of ingestion when your pet cleans their feet. Salt and ice melts can cause diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores, and severe dehydration. For smaller pets, consuming ice melts can even lead to seizures and tremors.
2. Hidden Branches and Other Dangers
Snow has a habit of masking objects that can injure your dog or cat. Some of the most dangerous items include gardening tools, branches or brambles with thorns, and broken glass. An unsuspecting cat or dog can wind up with a nasty cut or embedded thorn after an exciting romp through the snow.
Snow covering uneven ground can also lead to sprains and other foot injuries.
3. Cold-Related Cracking
Walking on ice and through snow really does a number on your pet’s paws. The wear and tear of the cold combined with the dry air can lead to cracks and chapped paw pads.
While your pet may not be handy when it comes to car maintenance, it doesn’t mean that they are safe from the deadly effects of antifreeze. While dogs are more likely to lap up antifreeze (despite bitter additives manufacturers now put in their products), most poisoning occurs because pets walk through antifreeze spills and drips. Pets wind up cleaning their paws and ingesting the poison.
5. Frozen Surfaces
Walking across ice in fur-covered slippers is no easy feat. Icy surfaces can be extremely slippery for pets, even with the advantage of four legs instead of two. Sliding and slipping can easily turn into overstretching and tearing tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
How Can You Protect Your Pet’s Paws?
Luckily, vigilant pet parents can protect their dogs and cats with some simple precautions and preparation. We recommend:
- Invest in dog boots if your canine companion will keep them on. The extra traction and rubber padding is a great way to prevent slips and cuts from sharp debris.
- Clean up yard refuse when the snow melts or before snowfall.
- Do not allow your dog or cat to walk across deicers or salt.
- Keep your dog on the sidewalk during walks and do not allow them to run off-leash.
- Use a paw conditioner like Musher’s Secret to protect your pet’s paws from cracking or chapping.
- Rinse your pet’s paws before they come inside.
Have a Safe and Fun Winter With Your Pet
At Cedar Pet Clinic, we wish you and your family a happy and safe winter. We hope these tips will help your furry family members keep all four paws on the ground and keep their feet feeling their best. In the meantime, enjoy the winter wonderland we are fortunate enough to call “home!”
Should your pet encounter a winter-related injury or they’re due for a check-up, be sure to make an appointment or give us a call.
Photo Credit: Nate Evans / Pexels.