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Is Your Ice Melt Product Safe for Your Dog?

With all the snow the East Coast received, ice melt is a product many of us will be using. Make sure your brand is truly pet safe.

With the recent snowstorms hitting the East Coast, the Wall Street Journal presented an article this week on pet friendly snow melt products. Many such products can be quite toxic to dogs if eaten, and walking on roads and driveways treated with the products can lead to serious skin irritation issues on a dog's paws and paw pads.

The article reports that many veterinarians indicate that just because an ice melt product's label lists it as "pet safe" it's not necessarily true. Some regular ingredients of ice melt are several varieties of salt which are poisonous to dogs who eat it or lick it off their paws. Eating a lot of it can lead to seizures and can be fatal, while licking it off their paws can lead to nausea and vomiting. Dogs often will ingest the substance as the taste is attractive.  For dogs who walk on ice-melt treated areas, the damage to their paws can even include bleeding. And even if you use truly pet safe ice melt, be aware that others in your neighborhood may not be, and walking your dogs outside of your property can be hazardous to their health. Be sure to check with your neighbors to see what they use!

Some of the ingredients veterinarians advise pet owners to avoid include any product that contains any type of salt, including rock salt (calcium chloride) and magnesium chloride. Urea-based products tend to be safer, although often products will combine urea and salt. While these may be less toxic than salt-based products, they can still cause damage to a dog's paws, though to a lesser degree.

One of the drawbacks of pet safe ice melt products is that tend to be less effective in melting ice compared to the regular versions, particularly in colder weather. They also tend to be more expensive.

Veterinarians recommend keeping your dog's paws safe by wearing dog booties and be sure to clean them thoroughly each time you return from taking your dog out on a walk. They also recommend making sure your dog has plenty of water - a hydrated dog that eats rock salt has a better chance than a dehydrated one. Also be sure to keep the ASPCA Poison Control hotline number handy - 888.426.4435.

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