Rain this October has made for a late muddy season for pet owners, but we all know that at this time of year the rain doesn’t last. As the temperatures continue to drop, we have ice and snow to look forward to.
Beyond the little trails of paw prints that appear inside our homes this time of year, there are also risks to our furry friends from oils, chemicals, salts and commercial ice melt as the weather turns cold.
These are all things that can irritate your pet’s paws — and if they have any cuts or sores there, these road chemicals can really cause pain.
Our pets have their own solution to dealing with their irritants — they lick at their paws and chew at the pads of their feet in an attempt to remove these substances. Unfortunately, the salts, oils and chemicals used are often not safe for consumption. This can lead to other problems.
The most economical and simple way to deal with this situation is to keep a bucket of warm water and an old towel by the door. When you and your dog arrive home from a walk, simply dunk his paws in the bucket and wipe off the debris with the towel. This will prevent mud and snow from being tracked into your home, and will also remove any chemicals from your dog’s feet.
If you want an alternative to washing paws, there are a couple other things you could consider.
Footwear is a popular alternative, if you have a dog that is comfortable wearing shoes or boots. Not every dog is fond of having his feet wrapped up, but for those fashionable canines that are willing, footwear is good protection and less messy.
You can also buy disposable rubber paw protectors as opposed to shoes that will need to be washed and cleaned. These are a footwear alternative, and some dogs do prefer them to boots and shoes with velcro or straps.
Wax barriers are my personal preference, and these are a great option for dogs that don’t like to wear things on their feet — or for those dog owners who just aren’t onboard with doggie shoes. There are a few different companies that make paw wax, which is breathable, non-toxic, and can be applied to your pet’s feet for protection and to prevent slipping.
There are a number of different brands out there, although Musher’s Secret is one of the top all-natural wax barrier products on the market. Developed in Canada, it was originally designed for sledding dogs. This particular brand of barrier wax is also safe for your floors and does not rub off on furniture or carpets.
I’ve looked into other commercial options for cleaning paws, but the truth is most paw cleaning kits are just a glorified bucket of water, soft brush and towel combination. The old-fashioned washing route is less expensive and does the same thing.
Whatever method you choose, remember that oils, chemicals, salts and ice melts are quite hard on your pet’s paws, and on your floors too! As things outside get messier, remember to take care of your furry friend’s feet.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.