Watch for salty sidewalks, doggie docs warn

Watch for salty sidewalks, doggie docs warn
Charles Mostoller

You’ve got boots on your feet, so why not Fido?

Veterinarians and other animal lovers sounded the alarm Wednesday as a new winter storm hits Philadelphia.

The pickled pooches are turning up in the vets’ offices with sore stomachs leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes dehydration.

“On a snowy day, we’ll see half a dozen dogs with upset stomachs,” said Dr. Michael Farber, chief of staff at West Chelsea Veterinary in Manhattan, who said a couple of dogs he’s treated this year have required intravenous fluids.

The dogs ingest salt by licking it off of their paws or bellies, but that isn’t the only danger.

“The biggest concern we have is if dogs are stepping on it,” said Dr. Vince Thawley Staff Veterinarian in the Emergency Service at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital. “It can cause caustic injuries to paw pads.”

Long-haired dogs tend to be susceptible, because the fur between their toes tends to retain more salt. But small dogs, too, are at risk because they can be sickened by smaller amounts of salt.

“I’m constantly cleaning off dog paws in this kind of weather,” said Jim Cappaletti, who owns a dog walking and boarding business in New York. Cappaletti said he often sees dogs limping in the winter when the salt begins to bother them.

There do not appear to be statistics on the prevalence of salt poisoning in pets, but veterinary schools regularly teach students to be on the look out for it.

The problem is a near perennial one, with animal protection agencies such as the SPCA and the Humane Society issuing regular warnings to pet owners ahead of the winter season.

The pet doctors advise putting booties on say one of the easiest ways to head off the problem.

And if your dog won’t wear booties, try washing their feet in warm water, or strapping party balloons to their feet.

“It’s also hilarious,” Cappaletti said of watching dogs strut through the snow in balloon shoes.

Winter Weather Tips For Pets:

Avoid freshly salted sidewalks, and watch out for other de-icing chemicals.

Keep your pets moving to avoid frostbite or hypothermia.

Try indoor exercise by playing with your dog in the house.

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