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Ice Melt and Pets

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 @ 05:01 PM

Here in the beautiful mid-west we are graced with the changing of the seasons, this season brings with it snow and ice.  With this snow and ice comes slippery conditions forcing many of us to the hardware store to purchase ice melt pellets or solutions.  Reading this newsletter, you have pets, as I you probably stare at the different jugs and bags wondering, is this stuff safe?  It must be or they wouldn’t sell it, right?

There are multiple ice melt products available for use. Potassium chloride (good to+25 degrees F), urea (good to +20 degrees F), rock salt (good to +10 degrees F), magnesium chloride (good to -22 degrees F) and calcium chloride (good to -25 degrees F).  All of these products have detrimental effects on driveways, decks, wood floors and most of all can be potentially harmful to children and pets.  Salt (used by 60% of ice melt purchasers) is a corrosive compound and its residue can damage lawns, plants, and even contaminate well water and water supplies.  Salt can also severely damage and permanently discolor brick pavers, stones, asphalt, concrete and wood decking.  When tracked inside, it can also damage rugs, carpets and wood floors.  How do these products affect pets?  How bad can it be, they just walk on the stuff a little?  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association exposure to salt and salt-based ice melt is a common occurrence and can cause dogs severe dermatitis, inflammation of the paws and serious gastrointestinal problems including vomiting and internal burns of the mouth and digestive tract.  The problem for dogs is that they are let outside to play or “do their business”, later when they are inside with higher temperatures the ice melts and dogs lick their paws ingesting the salt.  The salt can heat up to 175 degrees and not only burn their skin but their mouth and digestive system.

There are alternative products available to help provide traction such as sand, unfortunately, no ice melting properties.  There is a product Safe Paw (www.safepaw.com) made up of crystalline amide core infused with special glycols that is non-corrosive.  The best policy is to limit contact if possible and wipe feet off when pets come back inside.

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