We all love salt—some of us so much that we have to cut back. But the bloating we suffer from isn’t quite as hazardous as the effects of ice melt on dogs who ingest it. While most dogs don’t go licking salt as intentionally as we do from the rim of a margarita glass, dogs may lick the salt off their feet after a walk, or eat snow that’s been treated with ice melt.
Ice melts usually consist of several different kinds of salt, including sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride.
Toxicity levels depend on your pup’s size relative to the amount of ice melt they consume, and the ingredients. A few paw licks usually won’t be an issue, and could at cause some irritation of the skin and paws, stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea, but the likelihood of more serious symptoms increases if your dog manages to get directly into an unattended ice melt bag or container.
A dose of more than 4 grams per kilogram of your dog’s weight can be lethal, and they will require emergency care.
Symptoms Of Ice Melt Toxicity
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Painful ulcerations in the mouth or stomach
- Sudden decrease in blood pressure
- Excessive drooling
- Dehydration/excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Tremors or seizures
- Elevated heart rate
- Rapid breathing
If you suspect your dog has ingested ice melt, contact the 24/7 Pet Poison Control hotline at 855-764-7661.
Related Article: An Easy Way To Protect Your Dog’s Paws This Winter
Recommended Pet-Safe Salt & Chloride-Free Ice Melts
Ice melts often claim to be “pet-safe” while still containing salt and chloride components that cause the above symptoms if ingested in excess. Always double-check the ingredients before purchasing based on these claims!
1. Safe Paw Salt-Free Ice Melt
Safe Paw is completely salt-free and chloride-free. Instead of salt, Safe Paw uses a combination of crystalline amide, glycol admixture, and traction agents that starts melting the ice instantly. Plus, the green color is easy to spot against other types of ice melts.
2. Morton Safe-T-Pet Ice Melt
Morton Safe-T-Pet Ice Melt is another salt-and chloride-free ice melt, developed with veterinarians to be safer for your pets. As an added bonus, it’s even safe for plants that may get in the crossfire of your ice melt flinging.
3. Just For Pets Snow & Ice-Melter
Just For Pets Ice Melt is, you guessed it, free of salt and chlorides! The pellets are also soft and round, unlike jagged rock salt, so they’re easier on unprotected paw pads.
Tips To Protect Your Dog’s Paws From Ice Melt
- An alternative to help navigate icy sidewalk terrain is a sprinkling of sand; while it won’t melt ice, it can help provide some traction with no side effects.
- Purchase protective boots for your dog—while they may do a silly walk when first trying them on, gradual and consistent use with plenty of rewarding treats will have them dashing through the snow in no time.
- Use a damp cloth to gently wipe paws when you return from a walk to clear away any jagged rock salt and remove salt remnants that might be licked off later.
Related Article: 8 Steps To Get Your Dog Walking In Booties This Winter
Instead of attaching ice skates to all four paws before going outside, deice with a pet-safe ice melt product that does not contain salt of chlorides. I would be remiss if I didn’t also urge the following caution—when adding flavor to your spaghetti sauce, be sure you are grabbing your table salt and not a 10lb pail of deicing salt pellets. That’s a mistake you don’t want to make. Trust me.