When temperatures hit freezing, roads are salted to prevent slippery conditions. However, this road salt can be a painful experience for dogs. The Danish Animal Protection advises dog owners to apply paw wax to their dog's footpads before walks.
The Structure of a Dog's Paw
A dog's paw consists of toes with footpads on the underside. The skin between a dog's toes, typically covered with some fur varying by breed, can accumulate ice and snow. The soft footpads are not designed to walk on harsh road salt, making it crucial to take extra care of the paws during salted road conditions.
The Painful Impact of Road Salt
Jens Jokumsen, family pet chief at The Danish Animal Protection, explains,
"You might notice your dog becoming lethargic during winter walks. Often, this is a result of sore paws due to road salt. The salt spread on the roads dries out the paws, causing cracks or wounds that are painful for the dog."
Preventing the Pain
This painful drying of the dog's paws can be prevented by applying paw wax before walks. Paw wax is a preventive measure suitable for all dog breeds, preventing sores and cracks on the footpads. Jokumsen advises,
"Apply the paw wax as soon as roads are salted. If the dog already has sores and irritations, you can't apply the wax, and more extensive treatment will be needed."
Optimal Paw Care for Dogs
Paw wax is available for purchase at most pet stores.
In case of injuries to the footpads, dog shoes might be a solution, although some dogs may dislike walking in them. After walks, it's recommended to rinse the paws in lukewarm water to remove salt residues and reapply paw wax to prevent drying.