As I walk through Milwaukee or Wauwatosa for daily dog walking, the sidewalks are over saturated with rock salt, which contain sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium acetate or calcium chloride, or a mixture of these along with other chemicals.

This is extremely harmful to your pets paws.

In a previous post we mentioned that to help combat winter for your dogs, use dog safe salt and ice melt.

Why is it unsafe? The first is that when ice or water reacts with rock salt, a chemical reaction occurs. Now when your dog with wet paws hits the salt, their paw is taking the brunt of that reaction. It hurts, it’s irritating, and it’s uncomfortable. Most dogs will start to limp or you’ll hear them screech when this occurs.

The second is that rock salt and its components are toxic. If your pet ingests a small amount of the salt either directly off the ground or by licking their paws, it will likely upset their stomachs and they will vomit. If they eat a large amount, however, it can cause diarrhea, salivation, depression, anorexia, tremors, disorientation, excessive thirst, seizures, or even death.

So what can you do to keep your pet safe and comfortable? The obvious is to not use rock salt and look for a pet friendly alternative. These “pet safe” salts can be purchased at local pet supply companies or online. If you can, avoid walking your dog where there is rock salt used. If that isn’t possible, you could look into booties to help protect your dogs feet. There is also a paw wax called “Musher’s Secret” that helps coat their paws. No matter what you choose, make sure to rinse and wipe down your pets paws whenever they come inside from their walk and have been exposed to rock salt. No one wants the burn and discomfort of salty paws!