Watch Out for Your Pup's Paws! Ice Melt Can Injure Dogs

December 28, 2011; 3:00 AM ET
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Winter dog walk photo courtesy of Photos.com.

Ice melt, or salt, that is commonly used to clear ice from sidewalks and other icy surfaces can be harmful to pets.

The main ingredient in most ice melt products is either sodium chloride or calcium chloride. Both sodium and calcium chloride can irritate a dog's paws or be harmful to the animal if ingested.

A dog's paws should be cleaned after walking outside on snowy days. Even if you don't see the ice melt, it may still be on surfaces. A dog that licks its feet after coming inside could experience vomiting or diarrhea.

To keep your dog from ingesting large amounts of ice melt products, keep him from eating snow or drinking from puddles.

A dog that ingests 4g (less than 1 oz.) of sodium chloride per 1kg (2.3 lbs.) of body weight could die. That would mean a dog that weighs only 4 lbs. would only need to eat about 2 ounces of ice melt containing sodium chloride before resulting in death.

When using ice-melting products around your pet, consider using non-toxic brands, such as Safe Paws or Morton Safe-T-Pet. These products do not contain salt or chloride.

Another alternative for pet owners are dog socks or boots. Simply put the socks or boots on your dog's paws before going out. The dog's paws will be protected from any salt that is on the sidewalks. Most dog socks and boots can be machine-washed after use.

Most people will have to use some sort of ice-melting product this winter. As a pet owner, it is not difficult to protect your animals. Use a non-toxic ice melt product, clean your dogs paws or use dog socks or boots this winter.

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