Winter is on its way, and with winter comes chemicals used to melt ice. They cover roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Dogs may eat them and for a certainty, walk through them, posing a problem with both oral ingestion and dermal contact. We protect our cars from products containing salt, but allow our dogs to walk unprotected. Many ice-melt products contain a salt that can become lodged between a dog’s pads, where it heats up, sometimes enough to cause burns. The dog licks his paws because of the pain, and the salt gets on his lips and tongue. It can irritate his gastrointestinal system also, and large amounts can trigger seizures and other symptoms.
There are many brands of ice-melts, but the major ingredients are salts including sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium salts (calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium acetate, and calcium chloride). They may also contain urea based products. The salts are the most severe irritants of all the ingredients in ice-melts and larger amounts can trigger severe symptoms in a pet. Urea based ice melts are safer, but can trigger symptoms in large amounts. Care must be exercised by people who have dogs, but neighbors who have dogs must also be considered.
If you use an ice-melt product in the winter, be certain of the ingredients. Those safe for pets may be more expensive. Many veterinarians recommend covering a pet’s paws with booties before a walk and wiping off the paws with a wet cloth as soon as you return to the house. Also be sure the dog has access to water and is not dehydrated. This will lessen the harm of the product.