Given the amount of snowfall we’ve already seen this year, it’s time to talk de-icers and the dangers they pose to your pets. Commercial de-icing products are usually full of chemicals that are harmful to animals. Your best friend could unknowingly ingest these chemicals when cleaning themselves after a walk or suffer significant skin irritation and even contact burns from chemical de-icers.

The most common de-icers are made of calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium acetate, or chloride salts of potassium, magnesium, and sodium (“rock salt”). Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting as well as elevated blood sodium levels can occur when a pet ingests these products. The calcium-based salts are also known to cause irritation just from resting on the tender skin of bellies and paw pads.

Ethylene glycol-based ice melts can be even more dangerous as they contain the same active ingredients as antifreeze, which is deadly if ingested.

What about de-icers labeled “pet safe”? These products are often urea-based, and while they do cause less irritation to skin, they’re not as good at melting ice. That’s why walkways and parking lots in most towns and cities and around local businesses don’t use pet-safe products.

If your pet does come in contact with a de-icing product, be sure to rinse their paws with water and a gentle soap or shampoo. You might also try booties if your pet doesn’t object.

At your own home, we recommend ditching the de-icers and using kitty litter or fine-grain sand instead. Both are environmentally friendly as well as safe for your pet.

Bundle up and be safe out there this winter—and call us immediately at (719) 528-5557 if you have concerns that your pet has been in contact with chemical de-icers!