Ice Salt and Dog Paws

If you live in a snow and ice country like Twilight and I do, you should know all about ice salt (aka ice melt, road salt, rock salt). It’s usually that blue crystal or liquid that people put on sidewalks, driveways, and roads to melt ice. As nice as it is to walk on an ice-free sidewalk, there are some problems with ice salts – especially for dogs!

Does ice salt hurt my dog’s paws?

The main ingredients of ice salts are sodium chloride or calcium chloride. These salts irritate dog paws while they’re walking on the road. Maybe you noticed your dog licking his or her paws after a walk outside? They’re trying to relieve the itching feeling on their feet. While licking their paws, dogs may ingest some salt. Even a small amount of this ice salt can cause your dog to have diarrhea or to vomit!

How do I keep my dog’s paws safe from ice salt?

  1. Booties: I’m sure some of you have seen funny home videos of dogs walking strangely in booties at home. As much as dogs dislike having something on their feet, booties are a surefire way to prevent ice salt from getting on your dog’s paws. You can buy booties in a pet store or online. (Product placement?)
  2. Wash Cloth: If your dog refuses to even walk a step in booties (like Twilight), you can always take your dog for a walk and wash his or her paws afterwards. We have special washcloths we use just for washing Twilight’s paws. Usually we run warm water over them and then gently wipe off his footpads, paws, and slightly up his leg. Since Twilight is so small he does sometimes get ice melt on his belly. If I see him licking his belly after a walk, I’ll give him a quick wipe down there too.
  3. Pet Friendly Ice Melt: Obviously you want to melt the ice on your driveway or sidewalk. But did you know you could purchase pet friendly ice melt? Many stores sell a version of ice melt that does not hurt your dog’s paws. But be careful and always read the label! Ice melts aren’t regulated and “pet friendly” could just be on the bottle as a marketing pull.  Always check to see if it includes pet-irritating calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or sodium chloride.

Remember that the best way to protect your dog’s paws is to follow all three tips and avoid using ice salts whenever possible.

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