Winter and the
city dog
Winter safeguards for city dogs (c) 2009-2019 Frania Shelley-Grielen,
all rights reserved

New York City winters can be serious;  all that ice, snow and blustery weather, keeping
streets and sidewalks clear and safe to navigate takes some heavy duty doing. That means
tons of salt, sand and chemical deicers which can harm and irritate paw pads and can be
dangerous if ingested. Keeping warm indoors means dry heated air which can create dry
skin in both human and canine. Here are some tips to help you and your dog make it
through to spring:

  • Chemical deicers are mostly chloride salts which may contain magnesium,
    potassium, calcium or sodium. These salts are engineered to melt ice and snow
    as quickly as possible and are frequently heavily applied to city sidewalks. Contact
    with these caustic chemicals may be a source of great discomfort for most dogs and
    can make winter walks truly uncomfortable for both you and your dog. (The uses
    of these chemicals are also problematic for urban birds, squirrels, feral cats, ground-
    water and storm runoff.)

    Your dog may express overt discomfort on contact with salt and deicers. For
    example, my dog, Daisy, will stop, whimper, hold up an affected paw and then
    proceed to attempt to lick off the offending material. Or your dog may appear more
    reluctant to take walks and more eager to return. If at all possible, chemical deicers
    should be avoided. (Bathing your dog’s feet in a bowl of warm water on return home
    is always a good idea, no matter what the weather.)

  • Booties are one way to protect the feet of your dog. When shopping for booties
    make sure to purchase a set which have actually been designed to fit dog paws
    appropriately.  If your dog refuses to wear them or balks at the sight, think either
    novelty or fit. And while you can get your dog used to the idea of wearing booties
    (offer treats before, during and after trying on and wearing), you surely do not
    want to get your dog to accept wearing shoes that hurt. A popular brand of doggie
    galoshes are rubber booties that resemble balloons. Disposable, reusable and
    affordable, these paw coverings do work but must be put on carefully to avoid
    catching a dog’s sensitive dewclaw. Again, practice beforehand with feeding treats
    at the same time to create positive associations with winter footwear.  Removing
    them without the elastic snapping your dog’s paw in the process also takes some
    focus. If you do use booties for your pet, remember to rinse them off after use.

  • Caught in the latest snow storm without paw protectors? Carry one moist washcloth
    in a plastic bag and another dry one in a separate bag. If your dog reacts to deicers
    you can remove them on the spot. Make sure to wipe and dry as thoroughly as possible.

  • An emollient protectant that is applied directly to your dog’s paw pads is another
    product that promises to protect from winter sidewalks as well as hot asphalt in the
    summer. While this may be effective against the driven snow, chemical deicers
    seem to penetrate despite the product’s claims. Advantages to using this type of
    product are in the ease of use and the added benefit of conditioning paw pads
    along with protecting them.

  • Leaving your dog tied outside while you run an errand inside is never a good idea in
    any kind of weather, and now it can be illegal. The City Council passed a law several
    years ago banning owners from tethering dogs wearing choke or pinch collars. The
    law also prohibits leaving a dog without food, water or shelter for more than 15
    minutes while tied up.

  • When it comes to coats, it comes down to what your dog is already wearing and what
    type of breed you have. When purchasing a dog coat look for something that will also
    protect your dog’s underside, the part most exposed to the sidewalk. Also, try and get
    something fitted for a dog and not a human; better dog coats are modeled more
    along the lines of a horse blanket and not a parka.

    Puppies typically have less body fat than adults so they would most always benefit
    from a coat. Huskies, Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs, etc., are probably
    not going to appreciate any extra clothing in this weather, but most other breeds
    might. Also, if your dog sports a show cut such as a cocker spaniel’s where most of
    the dog’s upper coat has been shaved off, you definitely want to go for the dog coat.

  • Indoors, the dry heated air found in most NYC apartments affects both you and your
    pet. Try and pay extra attention to grooming your dog in the winter season. Brushing
    your dog can distribute oils throughout the coat and benefit the skin by stimulating
    blood flow. Brushing also controls matting, which can be a source of harmful
    bacteria. Remember, your dog only needs to be bathed once a month. And you can
    use conditioner after you shampoo your dog(and which reduces  static electricity) as
    long as you rinse extra thoroughly.

This article is an original work and is subject to copyright. You may create a link to this
article on another website or in a document back to this web page. You may not copy this
article in whole or in part onto another web page or document without permission of the
author. Email inquiries to info@animalbehaviorist.us
Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"Booties are one way to protect
the feet of your dog. When shop-
ping for booties make sure to
purchase a set which have
actually been designed to fit dog
paws appropriately. If your dog
refuses  to wear them or balks
at the sight, think either novelty
or fit. And while you can get
our dog used  to the idea of  
wearing booties (offer treats
before, during and after trying
on and wearing), you surely do
not want to get your dog to
accept wearing shoes that hurt."
Cold enough for a coat for you?  Your dog probably needs one too
Schedule an individual consultation
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
info@animalbehaviorist.us
212-722-2509 / 646-228-7813

Website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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