Ask The Vet: Cold Feet

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new yorkers love shoes and i am no exception. in fact, i would probably define it as an unhealthy addiction. it is no wonder my dog has a closet full of footwear to rival carrie bradshaw's.

alvin is a 14-pound boston terrier who does not share my affection for shoes. needless to say, it took a while to find a pair that he would be seen in public with. but step foot out on a snow or salt covered sidewalk? he won't have any part of that either.

never in a million years did this native new hampshire-ite think she would write a column advocating the use of canine booties. but i am a true convert. city sidewalks are tough on the feet. while dog's paws are built to withstand outdoor terrain, a little pampering can be warranted. snow and ice can build up between the toes and cling to fur on the feet, resulting in cuts and abrasions or, at the very minimum, uncomfortably cold feet. it is best to let the ice melt rather than trying to pull it off. caustic sidewalk de-icer products can cause irritations and chemical burns. at the very least, you should inspect and cleanse your dog's paws after walking. i keep a box of baby wipes at the door.

if you splurge on boots, be prepared for some resistance from your pet. it will take some time to get used to them. a good fit is necessary to ensure proper ambulation. make sure the boots have suitable traction on the bottom, and be careful not to wrap them too tight. of course, make sure the shoes fashionably accentuate the jacket. you don't want to be caught by the canine

fashion police.

other cold weather tips:

keep your animals sheltered from inclement weather. the toasty indoors is always preferable.

if you must house your pet outdoors, provide ample housing that is elevated off the ground and insulated with dry bedding or straw. find a house just large enough for the dog to stand and turn around in, but small enough to retain body heat. unfrozen water and ample food are necessary.

anti-freeze is highly toxic to pets, even in minuscule amounts. if you suspect that your pet has ingested anti-freeze, immediately seek veterinary attention. life threatening kidney failure can occur, even with treatment.

beware of thin ice. keeping your dog on a leash around bodies of water is the smart thing to do.


dr. robin brennen is vice president of program operations and chief of veterinary services at bideawee, 410 e. 38th st.

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