NEW YORK (WABC) -- An important warning for dog owners: While this winter has been brutal for us, it can make our four-legged friends sick.
Veterinarians are seeing a spike in visits from pet owners.
Elvis, a 20-month old Shih Tzu, is well-equipped to deal with the harsh realities of winter.
"When I walk with him, I walk with my head down and watch what he does," said dog owner Bozena Castaldo.
Bozena goes to great lengths to protect Elvis, from his raincoat to his red boots. "A special Vaseline first. Then I put on the boots, and when we come back home, we wash everything," said Castaldo.
With an overabundance of snow comes an overabundance of salt on sidewalks. This season West Chelsea Veterinary is seeing an increase in the number of dogs affected by it.
"Whether it's from irritation in their mouth or just limping and showing signs that they are irritated," said veterinarian Dr. Hyla Gayer.
"I have to put the little balloons on their paws constantly," said dog trainer Jennifer Wiseman.
Wiseman, a trainer, walker and vet tech, knows too well the dangers on the sidewalks.
"Salts make their tummies bad. It gives them diahrrea, as well as giardia and coxcidia, which are microscopic parasites."
Lori Cannava, out walking Daisy and Oscar, her French bulldogs, is especially careful to clean their paws when they get back home.
"When I get to where I'm going, I rinse their paws off because sometimes it's painful. It gets trapped in, and it's not good for the dogs to be licking that off," said Cannava.
"Bringing them into the house and right to the bathtub or the sink and then under the water with some warm water to get it off their feet," said Dr. Gayer.
Dr. Gayer and West Chelsea Veterinary also suggest, avoid freshly salted sidewalks. Again, clean their paws. Use the dog boots if they will tolerate them. Keep them moving to keep warm. And encourage indoor exercise.
Or an outdoor area, like the city dog parks, that should be free from salt and good clean fun.
"He's a member of the family and we will do everything for him," said Castaldo.
More tips from the ASPCA on protecting your pets during cold weather:
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