Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night should keep you from walking your dog! But chemicals such as rock salt, which is used to melt snow or make it less slippery, can irritate a dog’s paws. And what does the dog do? Licks his sore paws, ingesting those nasty chemicals that make him sick. Here are two easy ways to protect your best friend’s paws in both fresh and not-so-fresh snow:

When your dog is going out in clean, unsalted snow, lightly spray the bottom of his paws with nonstick cooking spray so that the snow won’t get packed between his pads.

Before your dog goes out onto salted sidewalks or other chemical-treated surfaces, protect his paws by putting small plastic sandwich bags (the snack-size bags work well for small dogs) over them and securing with small hair bands. If your dog hates the plastic bags or if the bags are too slippery (which may be the case with big, long-legged dogs), use baby socks instead, also securing them with small hair bands. They are not as protective as plastic bags—but they will block some of the nasty stuff on the sidewalk. Just don’t let Spot’s socks get too wet, please.

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