Winter is an amazing season filled with beautiful snowy weather that you and your pet can both enjoy. Although there is nothing worse than taking your pet out for a walk and slipping on a very icy patch of the sidewalk. To prevent this problem many cities, businesses and individuals use ice melt to melt all ice on roads and sidewalks to make for safe walking and driving. The invention of ice melt may seem like a great thing, but in fact the ice melt that most people use can pose health risks for people and pets.
The main toxic ingredient in ice melt is sodium chloride (table salt) or calcium chloride. The sodium chloride lowers the freezing point of water and makes it harder for the water molecules to bond together in an ice structure. So, after the ice has melted into water the sodium chloride remains dissolved in the water and sitting on the sidewalks and roads. When dogs are walked outside they walk through this dissolved salt and it covers their paws even after just one short walk. This sodium chloride can be drying and irritating to a pet’s paws, and for some with sensitive skin, can even cause cracking. If ingested in large quantities (eating the salt off the ground) they can even get a salt toxicity! Although most pets will not do this, if you see your dog eating the salt off the ground, ensure to prevent him/her from further ingestion as this can be a fatal disease if not prevented or treated appropriately.
Symptoms of salt toxicity include increased water consumption and urination, nausea/ gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, drooling, oral irritation, wobbly gait or abnormal behaviour. The amount of ice melt a dog would have to ingest in order to show these symptoms would be more than what they would lick off their paws after a walk, however it does to some degree depend on the size of your dog. Smaller dogs would become toxic potentially after ingesting a lower amount of salt. If you suspect that your pet has ingested too much ice melt (seen eating it off the ground) it is important to call your vet or visit an emergency hospital.
Though it is not possible to prevent cities and businesses from using ice melt on roads and walkways, there are some things that you can do to keep your pet safe and comfortable this winter. The first thing that you can do is wash and dry your dog’s paws after a walk outside or you can use socks/ booties to protect your pet’s feet from the ice melt on the sidewalks. Also, it is important to be sure that your pet is not drinking from puddles of melted snow, as this can contain ice melt in it. Also, to prevent large ice melt ingestion it is important to keep your own ice melt in a dog-proof container that is out of reach for your pet. Lastly, there are non-toxic, pet-safe ice melts that are available for consumers to buy. These ice melts contain urea rather than sodium chloride and they can be a bit more expensive than the typical ice melt, but they will keep your pet safe from toxins on your back deck and driveway, as well as keep you from slipping in the icy weather.
If you have any questions about the dangers of ice melt or think that your pet has ingested ice melt, feel free to give us a call and talk to our informative staff! Have a safe a slip-free winter season!