De-icing Salts and Pet Safety

Two Minutes
Apr 24, 2022

If you live in cold country, you know that snow and ice removal can be accomplished by melting, scraping or shoveling the cold, wet, slushy or hard stuff away. Adding chemicals to it first can make the job a whole lot easier! 

The purpose of these chemicals is to lower the freezing point of water. In addition to melting the snow and ice, they also prevent it from reforming and sticking to surfaces. These de-icing chemicals typically consist of salts (sodium, magnesium calcium and potassium chlorides), alcohols and glycols.  Unfortunately, these ingredients can be toxic to pets.

Unfortunately, that is what can happen when our pets go out exercising. The chemicals can attach to their fur and paws and then be ingested when they groom themselves. The salts and other chemicals will irritate paws, and depending on the type used in your neighborhood, your pet’s problems can range from tummy upsets to kidney failure.   

Preventing Winter Chemical Injuries

Be sure to take precautions this winter when your pup heads outdoors:

  • When walking your pooch, stay clear of surfaces coated with chemicals.
  • Accustom your dog to waterproof booties.
  • Winterize your pet's paws
  • If your dog won’t wear paw attire, wash paws with a warm damp wash cloth, and then dry after every walk. 
  • Keep hair growing between paws pads trimmed short to prevent chemicals and ice balls from sticking. 
  • Apply paw wax to pads before going out, but still, wipe clean after walks.
  • Try pet-safe alternatives around your home.  
  • Kitty litter and gravel won’t melt ice but can provide traction to help prevent people and pets from slipping on slick surfaces. 
  • Never let pets drink from puddles or eat snow since either could contain toxic chemicals.

Signs, Symptoms & Treatment for Pet Poisoning

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much. A small dog or cat needs only to ingest less a small amount of toxic chemicals for fatal results to occur!  

Within 3 hours of licking de-icing salts from their paws, drinking it from a puddle of melted snow or by whatever means the animal ingests the toxin, these signs and symptoms may occur: 

  • Burns to the lips and skin
  • Cracked paw pads
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

Quickly get your pet to your veterinarian or animal emergency center where treatment for hypernatremia (too much salt) will include administration of IV fluids and monitoring electrolytes and blood levels. This is a serious condition. 

Providing traction to slippery sidewalks and roadways is important to preventing injury however, we must also protect our furry family members in regards to the ways in which this task is accomplished. Let snow create a winter wonderland, but keep it a safe time for all by protecting precious paws and every inch of those furry bodies! 

Protect your Pets

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.