A big snowfall is a dog's paradise - all that bounding, leaping, rolling in all the fresh new white stuff. It also mean streets and sidewalks get a blast of industrial-grade salt, which can be hell on a dog's paws.
While all that salt is vital for keeping cars and boots safely on the ground, it can be the bane of a winter dog's existence.
The rough, sharp shards and cubes called rock salt are often mingled with various snow-melting chemicals.
"Most ice-melt products are a skin irritant," Erika Loftin, a veterinarian and critical care specialist at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, tells The Dodo. "Depending on the materials used, the chemicals can cause dryness, cracking and even burns to a dog's pads."
Here's how to make your own paw balm to help heal and protect your dog's pads:
Even more dangerous than eroding those tender paws, road salt can be inadvertently swallowed by dogs.
"If a dog licks their paws after walking on it, they can ingest the ice-melt chemicals, which can be toxic," Loftin notes.
Symptoms of salt poisoning, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), include "drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, [and] loss of appetite" in severe cases, leading to seizures, coma and even death - which is why Loftin strongly encourages dog owners to clean paws thoroughly after coming in from a wintry romp.
Warm salty water will do the trick. And, if those paws aren't so salty, a wet towel works.
As with just about anything in life, prevention works wonders.
Think dog boots. Snow shoes. Whatever puts a layer between paws and salt-strewn pavement.