CHELSEA — Salt used to battle the winter's constant battering of city streets is making city dogs sick and hurting their paws, according to the West Chelsea Veterinary Hospital.
The salt and chemicals spread across city sidewalks to melt ice cling to dog’s paws and underbellies and can cause serious medical problems, veterinarian Hyla Gayer said.
She's treated dogs who've licked salt and chemicals off their paws and suffered problems like hypersalivation, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Gayer and other dog owners said the issue was particularly bad this year as the city has seen a long, snowy winter.
“Just in the last couple months, we’ve seen a lot of these dogs come in,” Gayer said. “Previously it wasn’t so obvious.”
Dog owners should avoid freshly salted sidewalks, Gayer said, and walk dogs on fresh snow when possible. Wipe paws down with a warm rag or put them in the bath after walks, she said. If your dog will tolerate booties, they are a good option, Gayer said.
Gayer said French bulldogs, popular in Chelsea, were especially susceptible to problems due to their sensitive skin. Her three-legged bulldog Mojo wears booties when he goes out.
Manuel Franjo, a dog walker from Hell’s Kitchen, said his Chihuahua has gotten sick from ingesting salt.
“His stomach was upset, and he started having diarrhea and defecating blood,” Franjo said.
Charles Bayor, 70, who lives in the Penn South housing complex on 8th Ave., said this winter has been worse than others for his 8-year-old cocker spaniel, Bobby.
"It hurts their feet and it’s really horrendous,” Bayor said. “And they start crying and it’s really hard.”
Bayor rubs the dog’s feet with a Vaseline-like jelly before walks and washes his paws afterwards. “
It’s terrible for dogs,” he said of the salt. “I mean, they really suffer.”
“Normally it’s better to be on the snow, anything but the salt,” said Amanda Harman, a dog walker who lives in Harlem. “They’ll get a piece stuck in their paw and they start limping.”
Even if you have to stay inside to avoid the snow and salt, Gayer said it's important for your dog to be active in the winter and get regular play.
“They can certainly get the winter blues just like us,” she said.