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'Ouch! It Burns My Paws!': What a Dog Might Say in a Snowstorm

If your dog limps during a walk in the snow, de-icing products may be at fault. Here's what you need to know to protect your dog.

'Ouch! It Burns My Paws!': What a Dog Might Say in a Snowstorm

By  Leslie Yager

'Tis the season of the snowstorm, and some of us are keeping track of accumulated inches, while others are worrying about lost school days.  

For the dog owners among us, the problem of burned paws is a genuine concern. 

Some products used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks can hurt dog paws. If your dog is limping by end of a walk, the culprit might be de-icing products.

At Oliver's Place in Wilton, owner Butch Baltuck said he's having a hard time keeping "Paw Thaw" in stock, but this is the product he highly recommends. 

"It's safe even if they lick their paws after stepping in it. They can ingest it sometimes," Baltuck said. It may also be a good idea to keep a towel by the door to wipe your dog's paws when you return from a walk.

Dr. Kathi Meenan, a Norwalk resident and veterinarian at Stamford's Rippowam Animal Hospital for 14 years said de-icers are a concern. 

"It's very important. The de-icers that are not pet-friendly can definitely harm dogs' paws and ulcerate the paw pads," Meenan said, adding that she recommends washing off paws immediately when returning home.

At Wilton Pet Pantry, Cynthia Fox said the store scored big time when they recently filled an order for "Safe Paw," another pet friendly de-icing product. 

Fox recommends a two-prong approach to pet owners concerned about paw burn, suggesting use of pet friendly de-icer as well as covering paws with boots, balloon-like covers or a balm called Musher's Secret, which is a pet-paw protective wax.

Fox highly recommends sled dog boots which are polar fleece with rubber vinyl bottoms and mold to the paw. 

"These are what they use for dogs in the Iditarod. They mold to the foot. They breathe, and stay on," Fox said.

At Wilton Parks and Recreation, Steve Pierce, whose department is responsible for the walkways around town-owned facilities, said that the products the town uses are pet friendly. Pierce, who contacted the manufacturers of the two products the town uses — RIM Ice Melt and Stand Up Liquid De-Icer — confirmed that both products are pet friendly. 

"The Rim is only harmful if large quantities are ingested by a pet and the Stand up product is corn-based and non-corrosive," Pierce said in an email. 

At Wilton Hardware, Paul Dickinson said the store stocks a variety of de-icers - some specifically dog-friendly and others that make no claim of pet-friendliness. Products offered include Safe Step, Sure Paws and the True Value's own label Ice Melt. The hardware also stocks accessories including spreaders, scoops and containers with lids to prevent the granules from solidifying. 

Dickinson said depending on the customers' priorities, they can purchase de-icers based on dog-friendliness, effectiveness as the temperature plummets and corrosiveness to concrete, blue stone, slate, shrubbery or flora. The hardware store also sell the products in a variety of quantities — the larger the quantity the bigger the bargain. The "True Value" label is the least expensive, but makes no claim regarding pet friendliness.

According to an  article on Petfinder, ice balls, which form between the pads and toes of hairy-footed dog, can be painful. The article advises dog owners to keep their pet's inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months because paw hair can retain a lot of those nasty deicing salts. 

Dogs left out in the cold for prolonged periods of time can get frostbite on paws and hypothermia, according to the Petfinder article, which advises frequent short walks are better for your dog than a single long walk.

Has your dog's beet been burned by de-icer products? Have you had luck with any of the products listed in this article?

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