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.
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.
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
- Shortness of breath
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!