Human hand shaking dog's paw

Happiness is a warm puppy. ~ Charles M. Schulz

Our sweet Gracie loves to romp in the snow, but winter is rough on dog paws, and much like human skin, their pads will get dry and cracked from exposure to cold and snow and wet cement. But in case you didn’t know, all the stuff we use to minimize ice for our safety can be extremely hazardous to dogs.

Did you know that dogs can actually be poisoned by rock salt and chemical de-icers, and in some cases can actually die!? Holy Moly! 

Keep in mind, it is one thing for the dog to have issues with dry, irritated paws, but if they get salt or chemicals in their pads that are irritating, they will lick them and work to remove the irritant, thus ingesting some of it.

Symptoms of rock salt poisoning in a dog:

  • burns to mouth
  • dehydration
  • liver and kidney failure
  • pancreatitis

Symptoms of antifreeze (chemical deicer) poisoning in a dog:

  • sudden lack of coordination
  • very thirsty and excessive urination
  • gastrointestinal irritation
  • coma
  • seizures
  • death

Ok. Let’s quickly move on to things we can do to help reduce the danger and the general irritation that winter can wreak on our poor woofs.

1. Stop using rock salt and chemical deicers in your own walkways and driveways!

There are pet-safe, non-toxic ice melt products like Safe Paw, which we’ve used… 


or non-salt, traction granules to make icy surfaces less dangerous, but safe for woofs, kids, and the environment, like this EcoTraction made from volcanic rock … 

2. Keep your dog’s paws groomed

It’s important to keep their paws well groomed as too much fur or claws that are too long can collect ice and/or rock salt or chemical deicers, which will prompt them to lick their paws after being outside.

3. Wipe their paws when they come inside 

We keep an old towel by the door and wipe Gracie’s feet after she’s been outside for a walk or playing in the woods, especially if it is muddy or of course in these winter months.

4. Get booties for your dog?

Not for all dogs obviously, but if your dog will tolerate it… 

4. Use a healing and protective salve to help protect paws

Before and after going out to play in the winter (or anytime really), make sure your dog’s paw pads are clean and well-groomed, then apply some protective salve. Apply again after wiping clean when you come in.

Here’s a 1 GD Minute video tutorial showing an easy-peasy recipe for making your own healing paw salve. We gave GD Gracie a pawdicure! 

GD pawdicure salve recipe

what you need

2 8oz. containers (widemouth if possible)

1 cup beeswax pastilles
1/2 coconut oil
4 tablespoons shea butter
1/2 cup almond oil (can substitute olive oil or use 1/2 of each)
1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil
20 drops essential oil (optional – we love lavender, but you can also use some oils that are bug repellent for summertime)

what to do

  • find a large mason jar or wide-mouthed glass container for creating double-boiler effect
  • use a medium saucepan
  • fill saucepan 1/3 with water and bring to boil
  • put jar in the water and lower heat a little
  • add beeswax pastilles and stir till melted (we used an old chopstick for stirring)
  • then add coconut oil and stir till blended
  • then add shea butter and stir till blended
  • then almond oil and stir
  • remove from heat, but before it cools…
  • add 1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil
  • 20 drops of essential oil of your choice (if you are using any)
  • stir completely
  • pour into your two containers and let stand till solid (doesn’t take that long, maybe half hour)
  • give your dog a pedicure!

Gracie was so happy after her first GD pawdicure, she presented my husband with his slippers when he came in the door that night…

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The Green Divas share low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green through a weekly radio show, podcasts, videos and blog posts. Working with talented partners and credible sources, the Green Divas produce content on a variety of topics relating to a healthy green lifestyle. Visit The Green Divas website to learn more, and check out The Green Divas on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter too!

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