Late season storms often bring as much ice as snow. Ice storms even strike the southern states at times. If you have an ice storm and power is out, do not let your pets out, even in a fenced yard, until you are sure there are no downed wires in the vicinity.
Icy surfaces mean slippery walking for your pets as well as you. Puppies can damage growth plates leading to chronic arthritis problems. Older dogs can aggravate arthritic conditions or pull muscles. Older pets may need to go on an arthritis supplement, like Dasuquin or Glyco-Flex, if they aren’t already. Acute injuries may need alternating warm and cold compresses. If lameness continues for more than 24 hours, or is so severe the pet won’t use its leg, contact your veterinarian.
Snow covered areas that get a coating of ice generally aren’t as slippery but bring a new potential danger. A pet whose paw breaks through the crust may get a cut pad or foot. If this happens, you need to put gauze around the wound, then a vet wrap to hold the gauze in place and provide light pressure. You do not want to wrap so tightly that you cut off circulation – just enough to stop the bleeding.
Wounds that are potentially dirty may need to be cleaned as soon as possible. Chlorhexidine solutions are commonly used for wound flushing and cleaning. After cleaning, apply antibiotic ointment and then rewrap the wound. Large wounds may require suturing and/or antibiotics to aid in healing and prevent infection.
If your pet cuts a pad, your veterinarian may apply a splint to help hold the wound edges together when your pet walks around. Shaped like a spoon, a splint can cut down on healing time.
Consider booties for your dog if he will be out walking on icy or crusty surfaces often. Booties can protect from sharp surfaces and may provide some traction. Using booties can save you from having to rinse street and sidewalk salt off your dog’s paws when you return from a walk.