Is Ice Melt Toxic to your Vail Valley and Eagle Pets?

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Is Ice Melt Toxic to your Vail Valley and Eagle Pets?

Is Ice Melt Toxic to your Vail Valley and Eagle Pets?


Now that winter is in full swing and the first good snow has coated the ground, preparations for keeping the roads, sidewalks, and driveways safe have begun. Ice Melt is one of the more common products layered over heavily trafficked walking areas around homes and businesses. While Ice Melt is great for keeping us two-legged humans from falling and injuring ourselves on slippery surfaces, what about its safety for our furry four-legged friends?

In many cases Ice Melt exposure in pets will not cause life-threatening toxicity–however, it may cause clinical signs that require evaluation by a veterinarian. The three biggest concerns voiced by owners when it comes to their pets and Ice Melt toxicity are: pets ingesting all or a portion of Ice Melt directly from the container, pets licking the ground where Ice Melt has been spread, and pets licking their paws after walking through an area covered in Ice Melt.

Ice Melt products are made of salts which can range from sodium chloride and urea to also including magnesium, potassium, or calcium chlorides. Similar to if we swallowed a large amount of ocean water, the most common clinical signs from ingesting Ice Melt include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalances, lethargy and dehydration. More serious symptoms include neurological signs (tremors/seizures)  and oral and gastric ulcerations. A few licks here and there are unlikely to cause any significant clinical signs, however, if you believe your pet ingested a large amount of Ice Melt and is showing some of the above clinical signs, taking them to see their veterinarian to evaluate their electrolyte and hydration status is indicated.

Diagnostics and treatments for Ice Melt toxicity will depend on the severity of clinical signs, but will often include a physical exam to evaluate overall health, dehydration and neurological status, and a blood panel to evaluate electrolyte levels. Treatments usually include rehydrating the pet, managing nausea and vomiting with medications, as well as controlling any muscle tremors or seizures until electrolytes return to normal levels. Occasionally this may mean hospitalization of your pet, but if only mild signs are present then outpatient management can often help your pet feel better in 12-24 hours.

For use around your own home, there are pet-safe Ice Melt products and alternatives. Using products that contain urea as the primary ingredient because this chemical is usually less irritating to the gastrointestinal lining, is one option.  Sand can be used as an alternative as well to provide more traction on snowy or icy surfaces, although it will not actually melt ice. If your pet will tolerate them, paw booties or paw wax can be helpful to simply cover the paw pads and hair so that they do not become saturated in the salts from Ice Melt. Some pets will not keep booties on for very long or will even refuse to walk, so this may not be the best solution for every pet. Additionally, some pets enjoy licking or eating paw wax, so that must be used with supervision. Finally, simply wiping your pet’s feet off with a damp cloth to remove salts and debris can be very helpful in preventing unwanted consumption of Ice Melt.

We look forward to seeing you!