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In many areas of the United States, ice melt is an absolute necessity during the winter months. It keeps sidewalks clear, ensures driveways and parking lots are clean and ice-free, and ro safe for driving. However, while ice melt is essential, not all types are safe for use around pets. Some are quite toxic when ingested, while others cause irritation to paws, skin, or mucous membranes after exposure.


Here is everything pet owners in snowy areas need to know before taking their pets out into a winter wonderland. The short answer is no, pet-safe ice melts are not completely safe.

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Sarah Gorman, associate veterinarian at Boston Animal Hospital. There are many, many kinds of ice melt on the market. One of the most popular is composed of sodium chloride—common rock salt. Unfortunately, rock salt is also one of the least pet-friendly ice melts out there. Hypernatremia can lead to a of health problems, including advanced GI issues and neurologic dysfunction.

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Ethylene glycol-based ice melts contain the same active ingredient as antifreeze, which is very deadly if ingested. Some of the safest of ice melts are the ones with a propylene glycol base, Gorman says.

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However, it should be noted that propylene glycol ice melts often include urea as the active ingredient, which, while generally recognized as relatively pet-safe, is not as effective as other ice melt options, according to some chemical companies. And propylene glycol itself is not without some concerns. Gorman adds that while these types of ice melts are some of the safest to use around dogs and cats, they are very dangerous for ruminants—e.

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There are two common issues that may arise from ice melt exposure in pets. The first is topical, meaning irritation to the skin, paw p, and other body surfaces. Especially after repeat or prolonged exposure, most types of ice melts will cause irritation, and some of the more dangerous ice melts can cause the chemical burns that Gorman mentions. Gorman also says that most city sidewalks, as well as sidewalks maintained by local businesses, are not using pet-safe products.

Types of ice melt

Some companies also make dog paw wipes that are helpful with this. Liz Alton, owner and practicing veterinarian at Green Mountain Animal Hospital in Burlington, Vermont, says that owners should keep a close eye on their dogs in the wintertime, especially if they start licking at their feet or walking gingerly.

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We might not be able to say for sure what caused the irritation, but we can certainly treat it and ensure it heals properly. The second common potential health issue is gastrointestinal irritation.

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The impact of GI issues can vary, depending on the type and amount of ice melt the animal ingested. Inman says that a good resource for pet owners who suspect their dog or cat may have ingested ice melt is the Pet Poison Helpline. In rare cases, s of generalized toxicity may develop after a pet ingests a large amount of ice melt.

For example, the high blood sodium levels that can develop after ingestion of rock salt may result in neurologic symptoms like lethargy, weakness, unsteadiness, behavior changes, muscle twitches, seizures, and coma. While it is true that no ice melt is entirely pet-safe, owners can take steps to mitigate ice melt-related dangers. There are also some products available for owners looking to take preventative measures. Alton mentions paw wax, which protects paws from ice and salt and is often used in very cold environments, as well as dog booties that keep paws safe and dry on walks.

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However, it can be difficult to predict whether a dog will take to booties, she says. In terms of ingestion, dogs should be prevented from eating ice melt when out on walks, and all chemicals should be kept locked up and out of reach of pets when not in use. If a pet does get into ice melt, our experts urge pet owners to call their veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline, and, if the pet has ingested a large amount, head straight to their vet or nearest animal hospital.

Home Dog Care Center.

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Written by: PetMD Editorial. Published: January 10, By Kate Hughes In many areas of the United States, ice melt is an absolute necessity during the winter months. Types of Ice Melt There are many, many kinds of ice melt on the market. What Can Pet Owners Do? Help us make PetMD better Was this article helpful? Yes No.

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