Bricks are a big deal in German Village.

Bricks are a big deal in German Village.

Maintaining them also is a concern for many residents, especially in winter when salt is dispensed to melt away ice.

The good news, according to one local expert, is that the brick itself is not harmed by salt or other deicing agents. Salt affects the mortar and materials that hold the brick in place, said Mark Clotts, manager of the brick department at Hamilton Parker Co., a distributor on the East Side.

He recommends applying a breathable sealer, usually in spring or summer, and only when the surface is dry.

"Everything you use you want to be breathable so if there's any moisture in there, you want to get it out and if it's out, you don't want to let it in," he said.

Clotts urges light applications of salt and other compounds that melt ice because they have a corrosive effect on curbs, aprons and sidewalks made of concrete.

Otherwise, the worst thing bricks will suffer is an unsightly film caused by salt deposits, or efflorescence, which washes away with water, he said.

Many village residents also are concerned about caring for pets in winter weather.

Dr. Bridget Burdick of the German Village Veterinary Hospital said it is not uncommon for dogs to develop contact chemical burns on their pads from prolonged exposure to salt.

She advises rinsing their paws in water, trimming their nails and clipping the hair between their toes to keep salt from collecting in those areas. Burdick further recommends preventing pets from drinking out of puddles, as salt ingestion can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

While all salt compounds create some risk to animals, pet-safe options are recommended for those who own pets and even those who don't, Burdick said.

"I always think it's worth a little extra money," she said.

Resident Sharon Alvarez, who has an 11-year-old Maltese named Max, said she uses the pet-safe products and generally avoids sidewalks that have been salted.

"We're such a pet community," she said. "You'd think it would be worth the extra expense."

Mark Hylton, a salesman for Schreiner Ace Hardware on Parsons Avenue, said the store sells a variety salts and deicing compounds. They run the gamut in pricing, from rock salt (25 pounds for $5.99) to those generally considered safe for pets and generally considered noncorrosive and environmentally friendly (20 pounds for $25.99).

But no matter what the product, it should be used sparingly, Hylton said, because salt corrodes different styles of masonry and metal railings.

"I just tell people once the ice is melted to clean off the salt," he said. "Even if it's safe, just clean it up until it's time to use more."