Here are some tips to remember when walking your pets during times when snow and ice are on the ground.
During cold winter months, pets can come into close contact with a variety of ice melting compounds during walks and even in their owner’s driveway. Rock salt is simple sodium chloride, the same chemical as table salt. It is commonly used due to its inexpensive cost. Rock salt can be harmful to metal, concrete and plants and is generally only helpful at temperatures above 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rock salt is unlikely to harm pets unless large amounts are eaten. A dog can die by ingesting more than 10 grams per pound of body weight, but that would be equivalent to a 10 pound dog eating quarter pound of salt. Symptoms of sodium toxicosis include neurological signs, vomiting, polydipsia/polyuria, and seizures. Calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride are used as ice melts in colder temperatures (down to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit).
Prolonged skin contact or ingesting large amounts of these other salts can be harmful to pets. Urea, a common fertilizer, is also used in some areas to melt ice. It is useful in temperatures down to minus 21 degrees. Urea can cause environmental problems due to the fact it adds nitrates to runoff water. Safe Paws is an ice melting product that combines the best of all of these products. It contains an amide/glycol mixture. It’s not corrosive to metal nor does it contaminate water with nitrates.
This new product will work on ice down to minus two degrees Fahrenheit and does not cause skin irritation like other ice melting products. The company does mention that it could cause stomach irritation if ingested. When ice melt products are used, it’s a good idea to wipe down your pet’s feet after returning inside. This will lessen the amount of salt he carries in with him. If your pet has a large amount of any ice-melting product on his fur (from rolling or walking through it), bathe the pet and monitor for skin irritations. Consider the use of cat litter or sand for traction and also try combing sand with ice melt products for the best of both worlds.
If you have questions please contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood of Trumann Animal Clinic at email@example.com.