Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Winter (plus, cool dog-friendly places to visit)

Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Winter (plus, cool dog-friendly places to visit)

Written by Joyce Belcher, Herbs for Life in Kittery, Maine

Winters in New England can be long and hard but also fun if we embrace the season by getting out and playing with our pup.  New England offers miles of pet friendly cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing and walks and dog friendly places to cozy up if you want to weekend away. There is no shortage of fun activities to help keep us fit.sustenance_half_page_ad

Maine is still the #1 most pet-friendly state in the country, has a section about vacationing with pets, from hotels to restaurants.

The York Harbor Inn, York, Me, offers a luxurious historic 1730 dog-friendly house located ½ mile from the main property where all guests’ check-in, including the furry ones. Maines beaches are open 24/7 to dogs in the winter and Long Sands beach in York at low tide offers miles of great running.

The Harraseeket Inn in Freeport offers a dog bed, dog bowls and clean-up supplies and is close to several good hikes nearby including Wolfe’s Neck Farm and Bradbury Mountain State Park.

If you’re up for a getaway in Maine with your pup, check out some of the 519 dog-friendly cities or towns in Maine, some with miles of terrain for you to romp off-leash.

Keep your dog safe

Towns that salt the sidewalks and other walking areas pose different health challenges, here are some things you should know before setting out on a walk with your pup to keep him safe and comfortable.

screen-shot-2019-02-06-at-10-20-56-amDid you know that salt and most ice melt products can be extremely irritating and toxic to your dog?


This is the time of year where tons of salt coat sidewalks, driveways and roads to melt ice which    is corrosive enough to harm the paint and metal of cars while having a destructive effect on our fresh water ecosystem.  It affects plants, fish, and our pets that eat or absorb the toxicity of it, especially through their pads.

Two winters ago, I was in Portland and saw a dog tied to a post lifting first one paw, then another.  This poor dog was standing tied where salt was dumped, with no option to get away from it. He danced and whimpered as his feet were burning while his owner enjoyed the warmth of Starbucks. The visual will never leave me.

The pieces of salt can get stuck in dog’s pads where their natural moisture can heat the salt up to 170 degrees causing great discomfort on a very sensitive area. Then they lick their feet to clear the pain bringing the corrosive chemical to their lips and tongue, even their eyes with their paws.  Most ice melt products that are used on our city sidewalks, roads, and walkways contain calcium chloride or sodium chloride as the main ingredient which causes diarrhea and/or vomiting when ingested. That’s not the only way they can ingest the chemicals, they bite the snow when playing and drink from puddles.  Even if the salt isn’t visible, it may still be on the surfaces they walk or lay on. If you must use a product to melt ice at home to prevent slipping and falling, look for one that is truly pet safe. I’ve used Safe Paw™ successfully when the ice is too thick to manage. It may take a bit longer to melt the ice, but the tradeoff is not harming your dog or the environment.  

Keeping their feet protected from snow and ice, eliminating the “snowball” build up between the toes that causes pain equals happy feet.  Using a paw butter made from healthy ingredients, petroleum free (they absorb what is on their pads) is easy. Our Protect-a-Paw™ is an all organic handmade in Maine paw butter, providing a barrier against freezing snow and salt absorption and is used by dog sled teams in New England. Ruff Wear™ is a brand of boots for dogs that I’ve used for years, find easy to use, stays on well.  Be sure to get the right size for comfort.

Joyce Belcher is the founder of Herbs for Life, Inc, d/b/a Sustenance Herbs™, herbal formulator and manufacturer of organic pet supplements and veterinary botanical medicine in Kittery, Maine. Her areas of expertise include immune balance, detoxification, endocrine system and tick-borne diseases in dogs & horses.  In her practice, Joyce educates animal owners to be proactive in caring for the health of their animals, is a columnist for Dog’s Naturally Magazine and writes for several -Canine & Equine magazines. Contact 207-451-7093

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