Recently a video by the renowned holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker went through social media channels promoting a method to help protect your dog’s paws from the snowy, slushy sloppy mess that waits outside for many of us. If you watch her video here you will probably be just as plain old “grossed out” as I am by the chemicals and toxins in our snow, at least the snow that is getting dirtier by the minute by our roads and sidewalks.
Of course those same chemicals and toxins, with the exception of the rock salt (which is replaced by lawn care chemicals in warm months), are on and near our roads and sidewalks all year round, we just don’t see them. Being able to witness all of these potentially toxic things on our once pristine snow is enough to consider putting booties on our dogs’ feet all year round…and perhaps a canine hazmat suit.
Awhile ago I wrote about summer chemicals and how I wash all eight of my dogs’ paws after each and every walk or excursion off of our property. This is not limited to summer; I do the post-walk paw wash all year round regardless of the weather. Paw pads may protect your dog from rough terrain, but they can still benefit from a good cleansing after walking through our chemical laden world, especially since it’s highly likely that those paws are going to go right into your dog’s mouth for their own thorough cleaning.
Here are the steps that I take after walks or once a day if the dogs stay on our own property:
1. Wash all paws in a foot soak using water with apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup vinegar per gallon of water) or an organic pet shampoo. Swoosh the paw through the water and use your fingers to massage the paws for a few second while in the soak. Rinse thoroughly in a second container of plain water and then dry well, including between the toe pads and webbing for breeds with webbed feet.
2. Wipe the entire dog from nose to tail with a damp cloth, including their legs, belly, nose and jowls. You can also use the same ratio of apple cider vinegar to water to soak the cloth or spray on them with a spray bottle, avoiding the eyes.
If your dog will tolerate them, booties are a great way to help protect your dog’s paws from the cold and chemicals. There are disposable, biodegradable rubber options at PetFlow but I love these well-engineered Step-N-Strobe Dog Shoes from Kurgo.
After seeing Dr. Becker’s video I came across a shop selling a very similar product and I promptly purchased a tin. I am excited to try it out before our next walk. Of course I will still wash their paws when we return home in a dual prong attack on the toxins of the world. You can purchase the Puppy Paw Protection Salve on Etsy here. A side benefit of products like this made with all natural ingredients is that you can often use them on yourself, too, although I would save the running through the grass barefoot for six months from now when the sun is shining and the grass is not hidden under ice and snow.
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