Looks like winter isn’t going to pull any punches again this year, and that means lots of de-icers and ice melts on walkways and parking lots to make them safer for people.
Problem is commercial de-icing products are usually full of chemicals that are dangerous for pets, who might ingest them when cleaning themselves, or suffer significant skin irritation from exposure.
The most common ones are made of calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium acetate, or chloride salts of potassium, magnesium, and sodium (“rock salt”). Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting as well as elevated blood sodium levels can occur when a pet ingests these products. The calcium-based salts are also known to cause irritation just from resting on the tender skin of bellies and paw pads.
Ethylene glycol-based ice melts can be even more dangerous as they contain the same active ingredients as antifreeze, which is deadly if ingested.
What about de-icers labeled “pet safe”? These products are often urea-based and while they do cause less irritation to skin, they’re not as good at melting ice. That’s why the walkways and parking lots in most towns and cities and around local businesses don’t use pet safe products.
To avoid problems with de-icers, it’s important to rinse your pet’s paws with water after walks and any other jaunts outside during the winter. You might also put your dog in booties if they’ll tolerate them or use paw wax to protect your pet’s feet.
At your own home, we recommend ditching the de-icers and using kitty litter or fine-grain sand instead, as both are environmentally friendly as well as safe for your pet.
Bundle up and be safe—and call us if you have questions about keeping your pet safe & healthy this winter: [HOSPITAL TEL NUMBER]