Dogs, especially working dogs, need to have frequent exercise during the winter season. Winter is the time we think of protecting our dogs from cold temperatures; usually we're thinking of fitting them with insulated dog vests or sweaters. While it is true that these items help protect dogs against the cold, there are other winter threats that often go without consideration.
Combinations of moisture and cold temperatures pose a great threat to dogs, but exposure to salt and ice-melting products pose risks as well. Ice Melt is made from mixtures of sodium chloride, calcium salts, magnesium or potassium chlorides, and urea. When you spread de-icing products on your sidewalk or walk your dog in areas where this product may be used, you should be aware of the potential hazards Ice Melt chemicals could pose to your dog. The dangers are in the form of paw pad irritations, digestion irritations, and seizures and tremors can occur in severe cases where high levels of sodium are ingested. Cuts on the paw pads could exacerbate the problem. You can rest assured knowing there are preventive measures pet owners can take to protect your dogs.
Issues Caused by Ingesting Ice Melt
Vomiting and diarrhea
Mouth sores and ulcers due to calcium chloride chemical
Dehydration due to increase sodium levels
Seizures and tremors
Ice Melt Chemicals
Sodium chloride - A large ingestion of sodium chloride can be lethal to dogs. Mild ingestion could lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
Calcium salts - Can be considered the most severe of all the ingredients in Ice Melt products. Ingestion can cause severe gastrointestinal issues and irritation from dermal contact.
Magnesium chloride - Ingestion can be irritating and result in gastrointestinal upset. Hypermagnesemia can occur with very large ingestion, but is unlikely to occur unless the dog has renal disease.
Potassium chloride- Large ingestion can cause gastrointestinal irritation to the point of hemorrhagic vomiting or diarrhea.
Urea - Ingestion usually leads to salivation and mild gastrointestinal irritation. Large ingestion may result in weakness, tremors, and blood disorders.
Good practices are to limit your dogs’ exposure as much as possible by limiting the amount of ice melting products used in your dogs’ activity areas, and rinse your dogs’ paws with cool water when they come in contact with ice melting products. Lastly, you could use a pet-friendly de-icing product like Safe Paw. It's safe for your dog as well as children.
Below are some items that could help protect your dog from winter Ice Melt chemicals.
Dog boots protect paws from de-icing chemicals, snow, and ice injuries. They require some adjustment time for your dog, but they protect against winter elements and chemicals the dog might encounter when returning from outdoor activities, and no need to wash the dog's paws after trips outside. Dog boots aren't just for winter protection – they also offer protection from brush, burrs, thorns, hot surfaces, and any rough terrain that could tear at your dogs’ pads.
Musher's Secret is an easier solution than dog boots while still remaining safe and non-toxic. Made from food-grade waxes and Vitamin E, Musher's Secret is safely absorbed into the paws, which creates a shield that protects against burning, drying, and cracking. It provides safe winter protection against salt, snow, ice, and cracking paw pads and is effective protection when walking, running or hunting your dog. For more on Musher's Secret check out our blog, Musher's Secret - All Season Paw Protection
If paws are cracked or cut from Ice Melt, products like Pad Heal and Tuf-Foot can help quicken the healing time while also toughening the foot to reduce future cuts and cracking. Pad Heal creates a germ and water-resistant barrier that penetrates rapidly and deeply, but doesn’t wash off in water. Tuf-Foot is made from a combination of herbs and balsams that aboriginal tribes used on their feet to withstand injury in the harsh outback. Both products can be used to increase the rate of healing, as well as to condition the paws to prevent future injuries.