Don’t be salty – winter tips for your dog!

Photo courtesy of Abiah Brown

Photo courtesy of Abiah Brown

With the slippery ice, lots of people and businesses are putting out salt to help prevent people from slipping. Although this is helpful for us, it is not so helpful for our furry family members. Salt or ice melts can cause irritation to your pet’s paws and be harmful if they ingest it.

What is ice melt?

Salt is just one of the components of the commercially made ice melt products. While some of the ingredients do vary, they typically contain sodium chloride (rock salt), potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium acetate. The only chemistry you need to remember when purchasing ice melt for personal use, is to look for products not containing salt or chloride. These products are considered non-toxic, and brands such as Safe Paws or Morton Safe-T-Pet are options. Otherwise, using sand to help keep people from slipping is another option to keep not only humans but our furry family members safe.

What happens if my pet ingests ice melt?

If your pet ingests salt or ice melt, the most common clinical sign that the ASPCA noted was vomiting. Other symptoms included diarrhea, tremors, disorientation, loss of appetite, increased water intake and seizures. With too much salt ingestion, it can be fatal! Luckily, it would take quite a lot of ice melt to be ingested for any of the serious neurological signs or death to occur.

To help keep your furry family member safe, it’s best to thoroughly clean off or rinse your dog’s paws if they have been tramping through the snow and ice. Putting on boots or Musher’s Secret can also protect their paws. Also, try not to let them ingest any snow or drink from puddles where ice melt may have been used.

If you are concerned that your pet has ingested ice melt or have any questions about ice care for your furry family member, please call (773) 327-4446 and speak with a Veterinary Care Coordinator!

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.