De-Icing Methods that Keep Your Dog Safe
As temperatures drop, many areas of the country will have to confront the same safety hazard: ice.
Whether you’re driving in your car or out for a dog walk, a patch of the slippery surface can cause serious injury for both humans and canines. Unfortunately, not all methods for de-icing are safe for your pooch. Before you head to the store for something to clean off your driveway and walkways, consider all of your options.
Sand, Gravel, or Kitty Litter
Your dog encounters these natural materials on a daily basis without harm, so you can rest easily when using them — they are great methods for de-icing safely. Unfortunately, it’s not as efficient at melting the snow as many other options. Plus, it leaves you with a mess to clean up afterwards. Not ideal when you’re trying your hardest to limit the time you spend in the freezing weather. However, if you keep them afterwards, you can reuse the sand, gravel, or litter multiple times, which makes it quite cost-effective.
- Verdict: Safe
Wood or Plastic Barriers
If you know a storm is going to hit, cover a pathway with wooden boards or heavy plastic sheets. The key is to remove them quickly after the storm is over — otherwise, they’ll just freeze into place and you’ll have wood or plastic covered in ice instead of concrete! Again, it’s not convenient to have to go out and move them, but the fact that they can be reused for future storms is a nice benefit.
- Verdict: Safe
Salt (Sodium Chloride)
This is one of the most common methods employed for de-icing. When snow and ice fall, we salt the roads. Even if you don’t use it, it’s likely that it’s being used somewhere in your neighborhood.
That’s unfortunate, because it can cause many problems for your pooch. Their paws can become severely irritated after coming into contact with it, and a dog who licks calcium chloride salt and lime rock salt can experience vomiting or diarrhea afterwards.
There’s not much you can do about the rest of your neighborhood other than keeping a close watch on your pup, but, you can help keep your dog safe by not using it in your own yard or only doing so in a few spots.
- Verdict: Use with Caution
The list of chemicals that may be included in a chemical de-icer is long. Potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, CMA (calcium magnesium acetate), urea, and calcium chloride are just a few possible ingredients.
If your dog has ingested magnesium chloride or urea (also known as carbonyl diamide), your veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting, and all of these chemicals can irritate your dog’s paws and cause gastrointestinal distress. In fact, many can be fatal if ingested in large amounts.
Be aware that many products that advertise themselves as “pet-safe” may still contain these chemicals.
- Verdict: Avoid if Possible
How to Protect Your Dog
Since you can’t control what others use on their lawns or sidewalks, be sure to strap on a pair of dog boots or some paw wax before heading outside. Make it a routine to wash off your dog’s paws, legs, and stomach with soap and water once you’re back inside. And never let your dog drink melting ice or snow.
The most common signs that your dog has ingested de-icers include vomiting and diarrhea, but can also include depression, tremors, seizures, disorientation, loss of appetite, and increased water consumption. If you think your dog may be affected, call the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.