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WINTER PAWS - Wash, Wipe & check!

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

The temperature has dropped in the last few days.

I’m not complaining though because at least it’s still sunny, and crispy morning walks are definitely more pleasant than daily mud baths. In the countryside, I welcome dry and icy days because the dogs come back from their walks relatively clean.

Back when I used to live in town and took my dogs for their winter walks the roads were quite icy. I was always concerned, with there being no grit on the road, that I was going to fall. The other worry was that if there was salt on the roads and pavements, that it would irritate my dogs’ paws.

You see, when the temperature drops below 0 °C water freezes into ice, making the pavements and roads slippery and dangerous.

The salt and grit that are spread on the roads make the roads safer, there’s no doubt about that.

The reason salt is used is that when it dissolves in water it lowers the waters freezing point. As a result, the water remains a liquid even at temperatures below 0 °C. This process doesn’t work, however, when the ice is already completely solid as salt can obviously only dissolve in a liquid.

Road salt is made from rock salt that is derived from underground mines and then crushed. The rock salt is treated with an anti-caking agent (preventing the formation of lumps and making it easier to pack and transport) for optimal effectiveness. Did you know that although rock salt is coarser than table salt it’s still made from sodium chloride?

By the way…have you used road salt (sometimes even table salt) at the front of your doors in winter when the temperature drops?

With all this in mind, how would you feel walking with your bare feet that have a few cracks on your heels on salty (never mind cold) roads? Why is it any different when it comes to our dogs?

Small, delicate doggies, such as the Chihuahua and other toy breeds, are known for their sensitive paws. Just the same, lean dogs, like Greyhounds, Whippets, and similar breeds are also more likely to have sensitive paws. On the other hand, dogs like Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Spitz like dogs and Pastoral breeds have paws that are hardier and more ‘outdoorsy’. Although this is true we should still keep an eye on their paws too.

If you’ve ever had cracked skin on your hands, you know how it feels if you have to wash dishes, do housework or bath your dog. Now imagine putting salt on your cracked hand… OUCH! The reason why it stings is that the salt dissolves which causes the fluid surrounding the damaged tissue to become extremely hypertonic (meaning that the concentration of salt and other electrolytes is higher than it is in normal body fluids). Pain detecting neurons have their receptors in the tissue and they respond to the stimulus i.e. the hypertonic fluid surrounding the damaged tissue.

Our dogs can suffer from the same problem on their paws just as we can suffer from sore, dry cracks on our hands or feet.

By using Vita Canis Paw Butter which is deeply moisturising and nourishing, you’ll help to create a barrier on your dog’s paws. This semi-solid whipped butter with essential oils is formulated for dry cracked paws, noses and elbows. 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free, Paw Butter has a pleasant earthy aroma, is lick-safe and contains no synthetic ingredients and fragrances.

It’s not only the salt that bothers our dogs’ feet though. The various chemicals and sand that’s added to the salt, providing us with more friction for our boots and cars, contribute as well. These chemicals act as skin irritants and can cause dryness thereby irritating the skin in between their pads. And if this isn’t enough, if your dog takes to licking his paws after walks on this surface he can digest the ice-melting chemicals which can be toxic!

Wash, wipe & check.

You can see why it’s very important to wash or wipe your dog’s feet as soon as you get home from a walk to remove the salt and other chemicals from your dog’s paws as soon as possible. Do this before he has a chance to lick them! After a thorough wash, check your dog’s paws and pads for cracks, minor cuts, and even small particles of salt or gravel stuck in his hair or in between his pads. If you find any scratches or scrapes an application Soothing Antiseptic Spray can help.

Enjoy your winter walkies!

Love, Jitka xx

Get to know Jitka

I’m Jitka and I’m the founder of Vita Canis. I’m also a dog mum to 5 mischievous terriers.

I started Vita Canis from the simplest desire to produce 100% natural products which have a useful purpose for both dogs and their owners.

Growing up in my native Slovakia, my outlook on life was formed at a very early age. My mother was a University lecturer, and one of her subjects was herbalism, whilst my father was a Professor of Botany who dedicated his life to the science of plants. Growing up we were always making our own tinctures, teas and macerated oils from herbs we used to grow in our garden as well as wild plants which were picked from meadows around our cottage in Hrochot. I am so proud to have inherited my parents’ passion for all things natural. I also have a great love for animals and became a professional dog groomer in 1998, subsequently establishing the Vita Canis Dog Grooming Salon.

I have won many awards including British Groomer of the Year 2006, Eurogroom Best in Show 2006, 2007, 2009, Groomania Best In Show 2010 and Mastergroom Best In Show 2012. Vita Canis most recent award was in November 2016 where we were presented with the Pet Industry Federation (PIF) Grooming Business of the Year.

To grow my knowledge of all things holistic I have a Diploma in Clinical Aromatherapy, Diploma in Canine Massage, Reiki level 2 and I am qualified in Deep Cellular Therapy with tuning forks. Vita Canis range of products constantly develops as I feel there is always more to learn.

You can visit Jitka over on Puppy Post the Market & Instagram @vita_canis and


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