De-Icers That Are Safe For Your Pets

Early Winter snow and ice have made a surprise visit to Pittsburgh already.

Whether you’re driving in your car or out for a dog walk, a patch of slippery ice can cause serious injury for both humans and canines. Unfortunately, not all methods of de-icing are safe for your pooch. Before you head to the store for products to clear 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 easy when using them – they are great methods to create traction for your pet on ice. Unfortunately, they are not efficient at melting the snow or ice. Plus, they can leave you with a clean up afterwards. Not ideal when you’re trying your hardest to limit the time you spend in the freezing weather. However, you can reuse the sand, gravel, or litter multiple times, which makes them 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. 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 inexpensive and common methods employed for de-icing. When snow and ice fall, we salt the roads, as long as the temperature isn’t under twenty degrees. Even if you don’t use salt, it’s likely that it’s being used on roads or sidewalks 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 salt, and a dog who licks enough sodium chloride salt or lime rock salt can experience vomiting or diarrhea afterwards.

There’s not much you can do about municipal streets and other people’s driveways, other than using snow booties on your dog’s feet. You can help keep your dog safe by not using salt on your property.
Verdict: Use with Caution

Chemical De-icers

The list of other chemicals that may be included in de-icers is long. These are often used when the temperature is under twenty degrees. 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 these chemicals, our veterinarians may recommend inducing vomiting. 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 driveways or sidewalks, be sure to put a pair of dog boots or apply some paw wax before heading outside. There are many different styles available. Some paw protectors resemble thick-walled balloons that pull over their paws, while others actually look like modified people boots. Make it a routine to wash chemicals off your dog’s paws, legs, and stomach once you’re back inside. And never let your dog drink melting ice or snow that’s been treated.

The most common symptoms of de-icer ingestion include vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes progressing to tremors or seizures. Skin exposure can cause inflammation and eroded skin between the paw pads. If you think your dog may be affected, call the National Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or call our office at (412) 798-8770.

Save 10% with our Winter Dental Cleaning and Polishing Special

During the months of November through February we are offering 10% off scaling, polishing, radiographs, and dental surgery for your dogs and cats!

Please call our office to speak with a member of our veterinary team to schedule an appointment today – 412-798-8770

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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