When the winter weather outside is frightful, it can be downright dangerous for your pets.
Products designed to lessen ice on streets and sidewalks are big cold-weather threats to animals. Protecting your pets’ paws from the elements and salt is vital to their overall health.
Slush, snow and ice can damage the pads of their feet and rock salt and other sidewalk treatments used to melt it can damage them all the more.
The main ingredient in most ice-melting products is either sodium chloride or calcium chloride, which are both corrosive compounds. Extended contact with salt and salt products can cause chemical burns to paws and damage the tender areas between paw pads. Ingesting the compounds when animals lick their paws to ease the irritation can cause severe stomach upset.
There are nontoxic ice-melting products available that are pet safe. Safe Paw advertises its products as 100 percent salt-free and environmentally safe. Use the locator on www.safepaw.com/ to find a store near you that carries it.
But that won’t help if your community doesn’t use Safe Paw on its roads, or your neighbors salt their sidewalks.
You could try to avoid walking your canine on roadways, but snowplows throw deicers onto the grassy areas, so you should be prepared to protect the pads of your dog’s and cat’s feet during and after outside activity.
Boots are not just for the pampered pooch and finicky feline these days. Although it might take awhile for your pet to get used to them, putting boots on just before you go for a walk should keep the animal from pulling them off their paws. Keep the first few walks short. Taking a handful of treats might also help.
From personal experience, I know you can accustom your dog to outerwear, but I’m not so sure Fluffy the feline will be a willing participant. Keep in mind, salt is as damaging to your cat’s paws as it is to a dog.
But for dogs, getting a good-fitting, well-made boot is extremely important. Make sure there are no inside seams that might cause discomfort or pain and slide your finger down the back of the dog’s leg to keep the dew claws in place and keep them from becoming irritated. Also, make sure the boots are not too tight. An animal should never be left unattended while wearing them.
Disposable booties are also available for dogs that will not tolerate the harder boots and might be the ticket for cats, too. The rubber or vinyl booty is more like wearing a latex glove and allows the paws to feel the ground.
Get your video camera ready. Watching their high-stepping, initial awkward walk can be really entertaining.
When all else fails, make sure to clean and dry your pet’s paws when they return from outside with warm water and a clean towel.
Inspect your pet’s paws regularly. Use a paw rub to help keep paws supple and moist year round.
You can purchase a paw balm or make one using these directions I found at www.ehow.com/how_12149610_make-paw-rub-dogs.html#ixzz2EaftCP5o.
• Olive, avocado, or bergamot essential oil.
Melt the beeswax according to the product’s directions.
Add oil to the melted wax gradually, mixing constantly until the substance appears whipped. Use bergamot essential oil to add anti-fungal properties to the balm.
Add a pinch of borax. Borax is used in products that contact high amounts of beeswax to emulsify and stabilize the beeswax and support the balm’s texture without the use of chemicals. It’s fine for your dog to lick this since it’s used in such a small amount. Borax is also frequently used in lip balm.
Clean your dog’s paw pads with a medicated wipe for pets, or soak the paws in Epsom salts and purified water for five to 10 minutes. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per gallon of water.
Trim the hair between your dog’s paw pads to avoid getting the balm in it.
Apply a small amount of balm to your dog’s paw pads. Massage well into the pads. Reapply as needed.
Store the balm in an airtight container and keep in a cool place.
Other pets in the news:
Noon Year’s Eve party — Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way, will host a party for children from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 31. Kids can ring in 2013 with a dance party hosted by Radio Disney, a countdown to noon complete with a ball drop on the Welcome Plaza, crafts, Get Close Animal encounters and “Safe Rides for All Kids’ activities. Activities are free with zoo admission.
Holiday Paws Pantry Barking Lot collection event — A last push collection for wet and dry pet food will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday for pets in need at 113 N. Main St. across from the North Canton Fire Department. The pet food drive is sponsored by Ad Lab and North Canton Chamber of Commerce. Pet food will be distributed to needy families on a first-come, first-served basis at the same site 4-8 p.m. Tuesday.
Medina County Top Dog Award — Brunswick fourth-grader Ilsa Miller’s dog Buddy was named Medina County’s Top Dog in a recent annual awards ceremony that marks the beginning of the dog licensing period in the State of Ohio and ends Jan. 31. Miller’s essay, detailing why her dog was No. 1, beat out more than 400 Medina County fourth-grade students. Buddy will receive dog license No. 1 for the 2013 dog license season, and Ilsa took home other prizes from area businesses. The cost of a license is $12 and all proceeds go to the Medina County Animal Shelter. More information at www.medinacountyauditor.org/dog_buytags.htm.
Most Improved Player Award —The Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been named “Most Improved Player” for the North Central Division in the 2012 ASPCA Rachel Ray $100K Challenge. The shelter will receive a $10,000 grant prize from the ASPCA. The shelter saved 453 animals between August and October, an increase of 306 more cats and dogs than it saved in the same three-month period in 2011.
Rescued Animal Giving Trees — Local pet stores in the Akron-Canton area are helping rescued pets with “Giving Trees” decorated with ornaments bearing gift requests. Rescue agencies are asking people to buy the suggested item and donate it to the rescue listed on the ornament. Tree locations are: Pet Supplies Plus stores on Manchester Road in Coventry Township, Waterloo Road and Arlington Road in Akron, Portage Street Northwest in North Canton and West Tuscarawas Street in Canton. Trees are also located at PBS Animal Health on Richville Drive in Massillon and Rohr’s Feed Store on Manchester Road in North Lawrence.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.