In my recent post on how to walk your dog safely this winter, I mentioned the importance of washing your dog’s paws thoroughly after your walk to remove any traces of ice melt.
Back in 2000 the ASPCA issued a toxicity alert about ice melters, particularly those that contain Sodium Chloride. In 2001 Health Canada and Environment Canada declared road salt a toxic product due to it containing any one of the following chlorides – sodium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride or magnesium chloride; despite this, road salt continues to be used on Canada’s roads as an ice melter, as it does in most other countries.
Dogs that ingest ice melt products are most likely to show signs of vomiting, but symptoms can range through diarrhea, salivation, depression, anorexia, tremors, disorientation, excessive thirst, seizures to death depending upon the amount of ice melt eaten.
4g of sodium chloride per 1kg of body weight can prove lethal for dogs (refer ASPCA toxicity alert).
Granted, your dog would need to eat a lot of ice melt before he became seriously ill, but the effects of ingesting smaller quantities – diarrhea, depression, tremors – aren’t too pleasant for him.
Remember the following precautions for keeping your dog safe from ingesting ice melt:
- Wash his paws thoroughly after you’ve been for a walk, and his coat too if he’s been playing in the snow;
- Stop your dog from eating snow, particularly where ice melt is likely to have been used; and
- Don’t let your dog drink from puddles.
If you use ice melt products at home you might want to consider a non-toxic alternative called EcoTraction.
EcoTraction was developed by Canadian Mark Watson after his dog Grover, and two neighborhood dogs, died of cancer in 2004. Watson and Grover’s vet believe the cancer was caused from the dogs ingesting road salt which contained sodium chloride, but they have no conclusive proof of this.
Here is a video of Mark Watson explaining why ice melt is toxic and why EcoTraction is a safe alternative:
If you live in Canada, EcoTraction is available at Home Depot stores, and costs a similar amount to other ice melt products.