Tips for Safely Using De-Icers Around Your Canine

Winter is still in full swing in many parts of the country and many pet parents may turn to de-icers to keep their sidewalks and driveways clear of ice. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks that de-icers can pose to our furry companions. Our experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) want to offer you some tips for using de-icers safely around your pets! 

Types of De-Icers

There are several types of de-icers, including sodium chloride (rock salt), calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride. Rock salt is the most commonly used type of de-icer, but it can be harsh on dogs’ paws, cause irritation, and if its ingested, can cause dangerously high sodium levels. Calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride can be even more irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, sometimes causing bloody vomiting or diarrhea when ingested, as well as electrolyte changes.

How to Use Safely Around Dogs

To keep dogs safe when using de-icers, it is important to use them in pet-safe areas, avoid overuse, wipe your dog’s paws after a walk, consider having your pet wear paw booties, and keep dogs inside during de-icing. It is also a good idea to monitor your dog’s behavior and watch for signs of discomfort or irritation, such as limping or licking their paws.

Alternative Options

If you are concerned about the potential hazards of traditional de-icers, there are several alternatives available. Sand can be spread on walkways and driveways to provide traction, while clay cat litter can be used to absorb moisture and prevent slips and falls. Heated mats and steps are also effective options for keeping walkways and driveways ice-free. There are no specific requirements for labeling a de-icer product as ‘pet safe,’ so it’s important to follow safety guidelines for any chemical de-icer.

While de-icers can be a useful tool for keeping sidewalks and driveways clear during the winter, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks they can pose to pets. By keeping de-icers out of paws reach, rinsing your dog’s paws after walks and considering natural alternatives, pet owners can ensure that their furry companions stay safe during the winter months.

If you suspect your pet may have ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.

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