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Are Ice Melts Safe For Pets: Things You Should Know

If you have a dog or a cat, you’ve probably shuddered a little every time you have to apply ice melt to your pavement. Is ice melt safe for pets?

Let’s find out!

The contents of an ice melt

All commercial ice melts contain chemical compounds. Most of these chemicals are toxic to some extent and can harm your pets. In fact, they may also negatively affect the health of you and your family.

The chemical compounds include sodium chloride (in salt), potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, and calcium magnesium acetate. Some are more toxic than others.

The effects of toxic compounds on pets

Sodium chloride

If your dog ingests large amounts of sodium chloride, it could suffer salt poisoning. The condition manifests itself through vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, walking drunk, excessive thirst or urination, tremors, or seizures.

Vulnerable animals include cats, dogs, horses, cows, and birds. In severe cases, the animal may die.

Potassium chloride

If your dog ingests too much potassium chloride, it will begin to suffer gastrointestinal irritation, which can blow up into hemorrhagic vomiting and diarrhea.

Magnesium chloride

If your dog ingests magnesium chloride, it can suffer a gastrointestinal upset. In severe cases, when your dog has a renal disease, the magnesium chloride could cause hypermagnesemia. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weakness, lowered heart rate, and paralysis.

The animal progressively loses its respiratory, nervous, muscular, and cardiovascular functions. When serious, it is lethal.

Calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate

Calcium salts like calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetates are especially toxic. If your dog ingests them, it could suffer severe gastrointestinal irritation. Walking on the calcium-containing ice melt will also cause irritation on its paws.

Urea

Some ice melts contain urea. Also, people use fertilizer as an ice melt because most fertilizers contain urea. Many of us consider urea safe for pets because that’s what we’ve been told.

However, if your pet ingests a large amount of urea, it could lead to gastrointestinal irritation and salivation.

And if it ingests large amounts of it, the animal may suffer tremors, weakness, and methemoglobinemia. When a pet is suffering from methemoglobinemia, its blood turns brownish. Symptoms include weakness, jaundice, hypothermia, vomiting, rapid breathing, and skin discoloration.

Should you be worried?

Yes.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use ice melts. Sure, your dog could eat a poisonous amount of the ice melt product. And your cat’s paws could dry and begin to crack after walking where you have applied the ice melt.

But it’s highly unlikely that your dog will ingest enough of the ice melt to get sick. The solution is to use the product sparingly.

Use just enough to do the job and not a drop more. Also, it might be a good idea to keep your pet in the house, if you are terribly worried.

Store the bags of ice melt in a safe location your pet can’t access. That also goes for your children, especially the younger ones.

Ensure you clean your pet’s paws with a wet cloth when it comes into the house if you have applied ice melt to the pavement. And if you can, train your pet not to eat or drink from puddles of melted snow.

After the ice melt has done its job, hose it away, and thoroughly wash the pavement.

Conclusion

No. Ice melts are not safe for your pets. But you can manage the risk by following the tips you have just read in this article.

Steven A. Spano
 

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