How to protect your pets from road salt and de-icer

Iris Bacon and her dog Cydris try to make it to the bottom of a snowy slope at Park Ridge Elementary School in north Stafford, Va., on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/The Free Lance-Star, )

Paula Wolfson,

WASHINGTON – Winter can play havoc on human skin, but it can be even worse for our pets.

Walking them outside on treated roads or sidewalks can create big problems. But there are things pet owners can do to to make winter a lot easier for their dogs and cats.

Veterinarian Katy Nelson says pets can come in contact with rock salt, chemical de-icers and even antifreeze that are on the streets.

She says it is essential to clean their paws well as soon as they come inside, and suggests leaving a box of baby wipes near the door for that very purpose.

“Wiping that stuff off their paws is extremely important, because the first thing they are going to do is sit down and start licking off their paws,” she warns.

Nelson warns that could mean been trouble.

“All of those chemicals, all of those things they have just come in with are going straight into their G.I. tracts and possibly into their bloodstream.”

A bit of paw balm is a good follow-up, especially since paws can get dry or cracked from walking on chemically-treated cold sidewalks.

Nelson says imagine how it feels to get salt into a cut on human hands. The same thing happens to our pets when a little split or cut on a paw comes in contact with rock salt or de-icer.

There are pet boots and paw-protectors available, which Nelson says are especially good for tiny dogs with sensitive feet when they go outside in winter.

But the best prevention for most pets may just be to keep them on the grass whenever possible on cold winter days, and away from treated paved surfaces.

There are pet-friendly de-icers available, and Nelson says they are a good way to go.

“If you can find these, absolutely use them, and encourage your friends and neighbors to use them as well so that it protects all of the pets that are walking up and down your street.”

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(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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