Winter may have gotten off to a late start this year, but make no mistake about it – it’s here now.
Lots of the country was blanketed in snow again this past week, and they’re predicting even more in the coming days.
And that has many of us loading up on rock salt to keep our steps, driveways and sidewalks ice-free.
But while rock salt can be great for protecting us from slips and falls, it can actually be incredibly dangerous for our pets – especially dogs.
Rock salt is rotten for your furry pal
No matter how tough your pooch might seem, the typical rock salt or calcium chloride products he’s likely to encounter outside can do some serious damage to paws.
Rock salt can cause them to become irritated and cracked, and even to bleed.
But what can happen when your dog licks his paws can be even worse. Internal problems, drooling and vomiting can soon follow.
In fact, consuming a significant amount can raise salt levels in his brain so high it triggers frightening seizures and even death.
Pick pet-friendly ice melting products
So the easiest solution is to shop for pet-friendlier ice-melting products.
The best ones, according to experts, are those containing urea, which are less likely to cause problems, either internal or external.
Urea products are less irritating to paws and if eaten, nontoxic to dogs (but oddly, poisonous to farm animals like goats and cows).
Ice melting products made with magnesium chloride are also gentler on paws than traditional rock salt, but not as much as urea, say veterinary experts.
Of course, even if you use a safer product, that doesn’t mean your neighbors do — especially since rock salt is usually more effective at very frigid temperatures. So be sure to check for rock-salt residue and wipe off your dog’s paws as soon as he gets back from a walk.
And if he doesn’t mind wearing booties, they now come in all sizes, colors and brand names for the fashion-conscious pup to show off to his friends on the block!
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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