The Potential Dangers of Ice Melt, What Your Des Moines Vet Wants You to Know

Des Moines vet explains how to protect your dogs on winter walks!
by Dr. Terri Dermody, Ingersoll Animal Hospital, Des Moines, IA

In Iowa, there are many commercially available ice melts for your sidewalks and driveways. The most effective of these ice melts are made up of mineral salt combinations that vary depending on the product. These salts lower the freezing point of water, resulting in slush, which can be easily pushed off walkways.

Two concerns about ice melts and your dogs are:

1) Ice melt ingestion can cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Although highly unlikely, ingestion of large amounts (1.8 g/lb) could cause depression, seizures, and even death.

2) Ice melt skin contact can cause dryness and irritation of the paws and as well as mouth irritation. These irritations can be very painful, and are by far the most common concerns with ice melts.

Many of the ice melts labeled “PetSafe” contain urea rather than salts. These products are often expensive and are not effective ice melts. The ice melt industry is unregulated, so keep that in mind when reading product claims.

The bottom line is this: After wintertime walks, wipe your pet’s paws with a clean, damp towel. Consider dog boots. Don’t let your dog eat snow or drink from puddles where ice melt likely has been. Remove the slush and dissolved product as soon as it has done its work. Safely store your ice melt. And, if you don’t need to melt the ice, but want to provide needed traction, use sand or kitty litter!

If your dog is exhibiting any signs that have you concerned, don’t hesitate to contact your Des Moines vet promptly.