We just had a huge snow in New York, and took our dog out on a walk to the park. Half-way there we noticed he started limping (which he'd never done before). We headed back, gave him a thorough paw wash and wondered what happened. Our guess: sidewalk salt (also known as snow-melting salt or ice melt) that people put out to lower the melting point of ice and snow and make sure it doesn't freeze over.
Yes, ice melt can be really dangerous to your dogs, but also to children and other pets. The toxins in the salt can cause blisters and be injested, causing internal issues. For more on how to keep your dogs feet out of the cold, read our post on snow protection for dogs.
The Dangers of rock salt (ice melt)
"Most ice melt on the market contain hazardous chemicals or compounds that can result in toxicity, allergic reactions, and even cancers. Traditional ice melt is composed of calcium chloride and other such salts that are known to be toxic in nature. Stepping on ice melt that contains such chemicals can result in blisters. Since dogs love to lick, these chemicals can quickly enter their body and cause more harm." - Safe Paw
These chemicals cause both external and internal issues, and I'd recommend avoiding them if possible.
If you're buying sidewalk salt, whether its online or in-person, make sure it's pet safe. Pet-safe salt doesn't contain any toxic chlorides. Be sure your ice melt doesn't contain:
- Magnesium chloride
- Calcium chloride
- Sodium chloride
All of these chlorides are known to harm pets and could even be potentially dangerous to children.
Another thing to watch out for is the shape of the salt. Salt that is flat is safer for pets than the jagged or large, round salt pellets, which could have sharp corners and lodge themselves into a dog's paw. Some ice melt is marketed as pet-safe salt, but has round pellets. We prefer the flat ones.
Even the most popular "pet-safe" ice melt on Amazon has negative reviews from pet owners, so beware.
If you're buying pet-safe salt online, we found that this brand had the best reviews:
If you were wondering: "is sidewalk salt bad for my pet?" then hopefully this post was a little bit illuminating for you.