Winter Prepping for Your Dog's Safety - Is Ice Melt Hazardous to Dogs

January 04, 2016 3 min read

Winter Prepping for Your Dog's Safety - Is Ice Melt Hazardous to Dogs

mckee-snow-2013 (1)Most dogs need to have exercise activity during the winter season. Our own Staffordshire Terrier McKee loves digging her way through a fresh snow drift to retrieve her Frisbee and no degree of cold weather will keep her from her walk. 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. And while 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 great dangers 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 this winter you should be aware of the potential hazards ice melt chemicals could pose to your dog: dangers in the form of paw pad irritations, digestion irritations, and even fatal levels of blood salt can be possible. Cuts on the paw pads could exacerbate the problem. But there are preventive measures pet owners can take to protect their dogs.

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 the most severe of all the ingredients in ice melt products. Ingestion can cause severe gastrointestinal issues and irritation from dermal contact.
  • Magnesium chloride - An 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.

Preventive Measures

Good practices are to limit your dog's exposure as much as possible by limiting the amount of ice melting products used in your dog's activity areas, and rinse your dog's paws with cool water when they come in contact with ice melting products. Finally you could use a pet friendly ice melt like Safe Paw. It's safe for your dog and safe for children.

Below are some items that could help protect your dog from winter ice melt chemicals.

Polar Trex Dog Bootsdog boots protect paws from de-icing chemicals and 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 provide protection from brush, burrs, thorns, hot surfaces and any rough terrain that could tear at your dog's pads.

Musher's Secret is an easier solution to dog boots. Made from food-grade waxes and Vitamin E, Musher's Secret is safely absorbed into the paws creating 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. Musher's Secret is a safe, non-toxic way to protect your dog's paws.

For more information on animal poison prevention visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

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