Paws and Pavement: Navigating the Winter Hazard of Road Salt for Our Furry Friends

by Dec 10, 2023

As winter blankets the streets with snow and ice, municipalities often turn to road salt to maintain safe driving conditions. While this helps prevent accidents on the road, it brings a potential hazard to our four-legged companions. The salt used to melt ice on roads and sidewalks can have adverse effects on a dog’s paws. In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of road salt on dogs and discuss ways to protect their paws during the winter months.


The Problem:

Road salt, or rock salt, is a mixture of sodium chloride and other chemicals used to lower the freezing point of water. While effective in preventing icy surfaces, it can cause discomfort and harm to dogs. When dogs walk on salted sidewalks or roads, their paws come into direct contact with the abrasive crystals. This can lead to dryness, irritation, and even chemical burns, particularly in the spaces between their paw pads.


Effects on Dog Paws:

Dryness and Cracking:
The salt can strip the natural oils from a dog’s paw pads, leading to dryness and cracking. This not only causes discomfort but also increases the risk of infections.


Irritation and Inflammation:
The abrasive nature of road salt can cause irritation and inflammation. Dogs may exhibit signs of discomfort, such as excessive licking, biting at their paws, or favoring one leg over another.


Chemical Burns:
In some cases, prolonged exposure to road salt can result in chemical burns on a dog’s paw pads. This is more likely to occur if the salt concentration is high or if the dog has any existing cuts or abrasions on their paws.


Protecting Your Dog’s Paws:

Rinse and Wipe:
After a winter walk, make it a habit to rinse and wipe your dog’s paws. Use lukewarm water to remove any salt residue and pat them dry with a clean towel. This helps prevent salt from drying on their paws and causing further irritation.


Use Paw Balms or Wax:
Applying a paw balm or wax before heading out can create a protective barrier between your dog’s paws and the salt. Look for products specifically designed for dogs, as they are formulated to be safe if licked.


Invest in Dog Booties:
Dog booties provide excellent protection against road salt and other winter hazards. Choose booties that are comfortable for your dog and stay securely on their paws. Introduce them gradually to ensure your dog gets used to wearing them.


Choose Salt Alternatives:
Opt for pet-friendly alternatives to traditional road salt, such as calcium magnesium acetate or sand. These alternatives are less harsh on a dog’s paws while still helping to melt ice.



As responsible pet owners, it’s crucial to be mindful of the potential dangers road salt poses to our dogs during the winter months. By taking proactive measures such as rinsing their paws, using protective balms or booties, and exploring salt alternatives, we can ensure that our furry friends stay safe, comfortable, and happy during the chilly season. Winter walks can still be enjoyable for both dogs and their owners with a little extra care and attention to their paw health.