When it comes to ice melt, remember the “3 P’s”, Protect Your Pets’ Paws!
Living in Denver, as I do, I’m familiar with the need for ice melt. We have a northern facing sidewalk that would be impassible much of the winter if we didn’t use ice melt from time to time. But, because we also have pets, I’m careful about the type of ice melt we use.
Most commercial ice melt products contain sodium chloride, calcium chloride or both. While these are effective at melting ice, they can irritate your puppy’s paws. (And your cats’ paws, too!) When buying ice melt, you need to read the ingredients carefully. If they contain one or both of these ingredients, keep shopping. There are other ice melt ingredients that can cause issues as well. A good rule of thumb is to check and see if the label warns that the product can harm concrete. If it’s going to damage your driveway, chances are it’s not the safest bet for your dog.
Happily, there are some pet-safe – or at least SAFER – brands of ice melt to use.
- Morton Safe-T-Pet Pet Care Ice Melt. The company claims this product was developed with veterinarians and that it’s all natural and safer for pets, plants and concrete. Its melting agents are urea and propylene glycol.
- Safe Paw Ice Melter. The melting agents used are a “dual-effect compound made of a modified crystalline amide core infused with special glycol admixture and traction agents.” (Did you get that?!) The company claims this the only 100% salt free ice melt on the market and that it’s safe for pets, children, plants and concrete.
photo from by Jason McKibbon, PostStar.com
Even if you buy the best pet-safe brand out there, you and your dog could STILL be on thin ice. When you go walking, chances are your dog will encounter some of the salt and chloride based varieties of melt. It’s a good idea to wipe your dogs’ paws after every walk. Even if you get all the salt off, the harsh weather can be drying. We use a little Bag Balm on our German Shepherd. She seems to like it.
One of the most effective forms of protection is a set of dog boots. Yes, there are boots for dogs and they come in all sizes and many different varieties. They range in cost from around $20 to as much as $80 a set. It’s best to start dogs in boots as puppies, but some older dogs take to them quite well. (And, if you’ve never seen a dog walk in boots for the first time… well, let’s just say it’s worth the price of the boots.)
Beyond the paws…
Important: ice melt can make your dog or cat nauseous. Remember that most pets lick their paws. So, if they’ve been walking in chemical ice melt, they’re ingesting potentially toxic substances. And keep your dog from drinking from winter puddles. Often, this water contains high levels of ice melt. Too much can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If you suspect your pet has ingested toxic ice melt, talk to your vet!
With a little time and attention, your dog or cat can weather the winter with very little trouble. Because, here at The Pet Matchmaker, we believe in pampering our pets right down to their paws!