Dogs & The Snow
Ah, wintertime! For many of us, there's nothing quite like being able to celebrate the snow with a good jaunt with our pup. But while winter may be fun for us and our furry friends, it comes with its own dangers.
Today, we'll explore how to protect your pup from the snow and keep them safe during the coldest months of the year. We'll look at things like what ice balls in their fur can do, how to safely remove them, and ways to prevent them from forming in the first place.
Plus, we’ll talk about the potential dangers of salt on dog paws and how to choose pet-safe ice melts. So snuggle up with your pup and a mug of hot cocoa and let's learn about keeping your pup safe this winter!
The Dangers of Ice Balls in Their Fur
Your pup may love the snow, but frolicking in that fun white stuff comes with a hidden danger. Your dog’s body heat melts the snow enough to get wet, but then it can refreeze again in a tangled mass of ice and fur.
These ice balls hanging in their fur can pull on the skin, causing discomfort. Plus, ice balls between their toes can force their toes uncomfortably far apart. If left too long, ice balls can even lead to frostbite!
Since your dog is uncomfortable, he may try to lick or bite at the ice balls. This can break the skin, opening the door to infections and other problems.
Removing the ice balls gets tricky because it requires breaking up large chunks of frozen fur. So keep an eye on your pup during those winter walks and watch for the formation of ice balls. If you do spot any, take care in removing them as soon as possible.
How to Safely Remove Ice Balls from Their Fur
Luckily, removing ice balls isn’t too difficult. A good way to do this is with a bit of warm water to melt the balls. Gently massage the affected areas with your hands or a soft cloth. This should help break up the chunks of frozen fur and make removal easier.
Use a comb to get rid of any remaining pieces and then towel dry your pup’s coat completely before heading back inside.
Another trick that is going viral on social media is to use a kitchen whisk. Yep, apparently, the tool that gives you fluffy scrambled eggs for breakfast can help keep your pup’s fluffy fur free of dangerous ice balls.
The tool effectively breaks up the ice balls and removes them without pulling your pup’s hair too much. Just run it up and down your dog’s legs to knock the balls free. Finish off with a bit of warm water between their toes or other hard-to-reach areas if necessary.
How to Prevent Ice Balls from Forming
The most effective way to prevent ice balls from forming is not to let your pup go tromping around in the snow. However, even if it's just for potty breaks, he’s going to be out in it eventually.
Plus, it’s just cruel not to let him have his fun at least a few times over the winter!
So how do you prevent the ice balls? Well, one way is to make sure your pup has a good coat on before taking them outside into the snow. Something waterproof and insulated like a warm parka or snowsuit is your best bet.
This will help keep their fur dry and also act as an extra layer of warmth against cold temperatures. You can also try keeping walks short — especially during colder days with heavy snowfall — so that your pup doesn’t have time to accumulate too many chunks of frozen fur.
Doggie boots are a great method for protecting your pup’s paws. However, not all dogs will be okay with wearing them. If you get your dog as a puppy, start familiarizing him with them early so he’ll be more likely to wear them without complaint.
You can also use a paw balm on your dog’s feet before going out in the snow. This will help keep snow from sticking to your dog’s paws as well as protect against salt or other snow chemicals he might come into contact with.
The Dangers of Salt for Dog Paws
Speaking of salt and chemicals, this is a topic you should be aware of.
Deicing salts are used on roads and sidewalks during this season in order to melt away ice and snow — making them safer for humans to walk on. Unfortunately, these same chemicals can cause skin irritation or even chemical burns if your pup comes into contact with them.
So it’s important to keep your dog away from any areas where salt has been applied. This may mean keeping them on a leash or simply avoiding certain routes altogether.
Additionally, make sure you clean their paws thoroughly after each walk as any residual salt left behind could cause damage over time.
Choose Pet-Safe Ice Melts
What about getting rid of excess snow in your own yard? Using deicers is not only convenient for you but also a good way to help prevent the dreaded ice balls from forming in your pup’s fur. When they have clearer paths to walk, they won’t get so wet when playing in the yard.
But, as we just mentioned, salt and some deicing chemicals can cause problems for your pup!
Luckily, there are pet-safe alternatives. Many of them are marketed as such so they are easy to find, but here’s what you should watch for.
Most deicing products use sodium compounds to perform their magic. Sodium chloride (better known as rock salt) is a common product but dangerous for dogs. It can burn their feet and is poisonous if swallowed, which can happen because your dog will be licking their feet.
Instead, look for products containing potassium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), or calcium chloride. Make sure to read the directions for best practices. Some products can damage concrete or vegetation with repeated or excessive use.
Regardless, it’s definitely worth investing in a pet-safe alternative. You want to keep your whole family safe this winter season!
Have Fun in the Snow!
It isn’t difficult to keep your pup safe in the snow, just important to be aware of the dangers. With the tricks and knowledge presented in this article, you can feel confident that you and your pup are ready for winter — and he can safely enjoy playing in that powdery stuff.
Just watch out for those pesky ice balls and choose pet-safe ice melts. Your furry friend will thank you, or at the very least appreciate all your efforts!