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Many regions of the country simply cannot make it through the winter without rock salt and other types of ice melt. Keeping roads clear and navigable, these small pellets make a big difference when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Unfortunately, this essential resource has its downsides. In addition to corroding and staining surfaces, ice can also lead to health concerns for dogs and cats who ingest them or walk over them.
You remember to bundle up before walking the dog and to keep an eye on outdoor cats during the winter, but are you aware of the dangers posed by common ice melt products?
The Dangers of Ice Melts
Pets may poison themselves by ingesting ice melt crystals, eating snow, licking their paws, or by drinking from puddles where runoff has accumulated. The most common side effects are diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to severe dehydration in extreme cases. In rarer instances, ingesting heavy amounts of ice melt can lead to electrolyte imbalances. This can cause sluggishness, seizures, and even death.
In addition to the poisoning risk, ice melt’s jagged edges and chemical ingredients can irritate a pet’s sensitive skin and paw pads. Over weeks and months, this irritation can leave pets struggling with consistent pain and limited mobility.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous quantity of ice melt or if you believe they may be uniquely sensitive to its ingredients.
Pet-Safe Ice Melts
Several ice melt manufacturers advertise that their products are “pet safe.” Dog and cat owners who are responsible for salting their own property should consider researching these products and others before the next blizzard.
Green Gobbler Pet Safe Ice Melt
Available in 10, 15, 25, and 35-pound pails, Green Gobbler’s product has earned more than 1,000 five-star reviews from Amazon shoppers, as well as the Amazon’s Choice distinction. One reviewer sung the praises of Green Gobbler’s convenient, portable container. While bags can easily puncture, the Green Gobbler pail “allows the granules to be easily poured with no mess.”
Natural Rapport Pet Friendly Ice Melt
This popular option is made in the United States from organic ingredients. Customers especially appreciate the product’s shaker-top bottle, which makes it easy to apply across sidewalks and driveways. “It worked immediately,” reported one shopper, “I was extremely pleased and would recommend the ice melt to everyone.”
Safe Paw Ice Melter for Dogs & Cats
Pet-loving shoppers are pleased with this non-toxic product. More than 90% of shoppers who’ve tried it would recommend Safe Paw to their friends. Unlike other similar products, Safe Paw does not contain salt of any kind. This makes it a unique option for concerned pet parents.
HARRIS Safe Melt Pet Friendly Ice and Snow Melter
This magnesium chloride-based ice melt is effective at sub-zero temperatures and comes with a scoop for easy application. One reviewer was nearly ready to give up hope when he purchased this product. “I have tried four other ice melts,” he writes, “this is the only one that seemed to work.”
Keep It Green Pet Safe Ice Melt
“Kid, pet, and concrete safe,” one satisfied shopper writes, “what more can you ask for?” The product is an especially popular choice among pet parents who are interested in preserving their lawns. In addition to ice-melting ingredients, the product contains time-released fertilizer to ensure grass stays green even in areas with heavy snowfall.
Whether you’re at home or out for a walk, there a few simple precautions you can take to avoid poisoning or irritation from ice melt:
- Keep ice melt in tightly-sealed containers and store it out of reach of pets.
- If possible, avoid walking pets in areas where ice melt has recently been spread.
- Use a damp cloth or baby wipe to clean your dog or cat’s paws after trips outside.
- Avoid letting your pet eat snow or drink from puddles of melted snow.
- Consider purchasing paw wax or booties for an extra layer of protection.
- Once the weather improves, rinse down areas where ice melt has been spread.
Are Pet-Safe Ice Melts Really Safe?
The products listed above each have their fans, but remember that the phrase “pet-safe” is not always a guarantee. Dr. Sarah Gorman, a veterinarian at the Boston Animal Hospital, notes that all varieties of ice melt carry at least some risk. She writes, “the ASPCA’s poison control classifies all ice melt products as being chemical irritants.” Even a product that is ostensibly safe may cause gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as irritation to the paws and skin. Pet parents are advised to exercise caution around any and every type of ice melt and to check dogs and outdoor cats for signs of paw irritation or poisoning. Learn more about keeping your pet happy and healthy throughout the harsh winter months.