Winter brings more slips and falls than any time of year, and your four-legged friends are just as susceptible as you are to unsafe icy conditions.
Ice around our homes is a problem for every critter, large and small, who have to walk on it. It’s a common practice for folks to throw down various forms of salt to melt ice buildup on their walks and driveways to help prevent people from slipping and falling.
Unfortunately, most ice melt products’ makeup is toxic to animals. It’s a normal response for your four-legged pets to lick their fur when it becomes wet from their time outside. Ingesting chemical residue from impure melted ice can be fatal.
While sand and cat litter can provide traction, if it’s melting that you’re looking for, then it’s important to make sure that what you use is safe for your pets. The plus side to using pet-friendly products is that they are usually also safe for the environment.
Fortunately, several companies now make salt-free ice melts. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), you’ll want to avoid products that contain sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. Pet-safe ice melts typically contain urea or magnesium chloride, which, while not as toxic, can still cause stomach upset. For this reason, the ASPCA recommends taking a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet to remove ice, salt, and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
Booties, if your pet will wear them, can help minimize contact with painful salt crystals, poisonous anti-freeze, and chemical ice-melting agents. They can also help prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes, causing irritation. Moisturizers are also a good preventative against chapped paws. Massaging plain petroleum jelly, Bag Balm®, or Musher’s Secret paw wax into paw pads before going outside helps protect them from salt and chemical agents. And moisturizing after a good toweling off helps to heal chapped paws. Besides, your furry friend will love the extra attention and likely thank you with a warm, salt-free kiss.—By Kat Schneider