Before you take your dog on a walk in the snow, here is how to make sure the treatment used to melt the ice won’t get your pet sick.
WASHINGTON — As the snow piles on roads and sidewalks, crews will use ice-melting agents to clear pathways for cars and pedestrians. These de-icing agents commonly contain sodium chloride or rock salt, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and/or urea, also known as carbonyl diamide, according to Poison Control.
While these de-icing agents can help clear roads and sidewalks, they can cause problems for our furry friends.
Poison Control explains that these ice-melting chemicals can cause irritation and dryness on the skin or paws but the greater concern comes from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which says when ingested, pets could become sick.
Animals do not often eat ice melts on purpose but could ingest the de-icing agents while licking their paws after a walk or by eating snow that may have the ice melts in it.
“While ice melt exposures in pets are not often serious, there are some things pet owners and veterinarians should know to minimize potential problems,” the ASPCA website reads.
Signs and Symptoms
The agency says ice melts can range from seriously toxic to non-toxic and can cause varying degrees of symptoms and health issues.
The good news is that the ASPCA says a couple of licks of paw or treated ground should not cause any serious problems. In this case, the agency says the primary concern will be possible self-limiting drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea.
However, pet owners should take action if a dog is able to get into a bag of ice melt and ingests a large amount.
“Ingesting large amounts of calcium chloride may lead to ulcerations in a pet’s mouth and stomach, which can be painful, causing pets not to want to eat or drink,” the ASPCA website reads.
If you do notice your dog coming down with the above symptoms after a walk or small exposure and are worried, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435. The poison-related emergency hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Any animal who may have ingested more than a lick of an ice melt and is displaying more than mild vomiting, or appears to be showing any neurological signs should head to their vet or animal hospital immediately.
The ASPCA says patients will be treated by:
- Evaluating hydration, electrolytes, and neurologic status
- Managing any vomiting with an antiemetic to prevent further loss of fluids and aspiration
- Managing any neurologic signs such as tremors and seizures with methocarbamol and benzodiazepines until the electrolytes are normalized, and they are no longer having any neurologic signs.
How to keep your pet safe
The ASPCA released a list of suggestions on how to keep your dog safe around ice melts.
- Don’t let dogs eat any of the salt or any of the snow (especially the slushy snow) outside that may have been treated with an ice melt.
- Wipe your pet’s paws as soon as they get inside with a damp cloth or baby wipes. Minimize paw licking until their paws are completely clean. This will also help minimize risk for skin irritation that may be seen from walking through ice melts
- If you have a sensitive dog whose paw pads are becoming irritated, cracked or are bleeding from the ice melts, paw wax or doggie booties provide an excellent barrier to minimize risk to sensitive feet.
- Keep all ice melt packaging out of paws’ reach.
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