When winter rolls around in colder climates, something has to be done about all of the snow.

After all, most of the time the world doesn’t stop just because there are a few inches of the white stuff on the ground. In many places, the people who manage snowfall are prepared with plows and coarse rock salt to help clear the roads. Salt has become an essential tool in the snow, helping to melt the stuff and keep icy patches off of driveways, outside stairs, and roadways.

However, salt has the effect of drying out skin as well as snow, and those same roads sprinkled with salt are the roads that we walk our dogs on every day. How can we protect our furry friends’ feet? Here are some ideas.

The industrial road salt can be incredibly destructive to dogs’ paws, and depending on where you live, the salt may be sprayed in toxic chemicals. That’s great for keeping us from sliding off the road, but it’s not great for dogs’ paw pads, which are exposed to antifreeze and other dangerous substances.

Paw pads can withstand a lot, but when it comes to salt they might become dry, rougher, or even cracked. That’s no fun for you or the pup, who may be in pain.

“Most ice-melt products are a skin irritant,” Erika Loftin, a veterinarian and critical care specialist at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, told The Dodo. “Depending on the materials used, the chemicals can cause dryness, cracking and even burns to a dog’s pads.”

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