Ah, there’s something magical about the first snowfalls of winter. But once you have to start shoveling snow off your driveway every day the magic wanes. Ice melters make the task easier – but if you’ve got a dog it’s important to use a pet friendly ice melt.
What is pet friendly ice melt?
When you take your dog for a walk in winter, you’re likely to go down sidewalks where snow and ice have been cleared. Ice melters are commonly used to break the surface tension of ice and start melting it, making it easier to clear. You may not be able to control what product is used in public spaces, but you can choose a pet safe ice melter around your own house.
Ice melt products raise two main concerns:
- Skin irritation: concerns that it might damage your dog’s skin or dry out the soft pads of their paws.
- Ingestion: concerns that the chemicals might be toxic, or that your pet may eat it in poisonous quantities.
A pet friendly ice melt product is made from non-toxic ingredients and minimizes the risks.
Why ice melt salt is bad for dogs!
Salt is a common ingredient in deicers. It works by drawing moisture from the air, which causes a reaction that creates heat.
When your dog goes for a walk along your concrete path, bits of salt that haven’t dissolved can become lodged in its paws. The salt will begin to heat up as it absorbs moisture there. Because it’s uncomfortable, your dog is likely to lick its paws, making the situation worse.
When you think of salt, you’re probably thinking of table salt – sodium chloride. This is used in many a product, but most ice melts use stronger chloride chemicals.
Three common chemical culprits you should avoid in any product are:
- calcium chloride
- magnesium chloride
- potassium chloride
Is salt bad for dogs?
We already know that salt can damage the skin. Now let’s think about ingestion.
Too much salt can cause discomfort in the gastrointestinal system, evening leading to vomiting or in extreme cases seizures. While it’s unlikely your dog would consume enough from an ice melt to cause this, look at the alternatives.
Even the household brand of Morton salt have a pet friendly ice melt that’s salt-free!
If you’re worried your dog has ingested too much ice melt product or is showing symptoms of illness, call your Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
Is ice bad for dogs?
Ice itself isn’t bad for dogs. Many actually love ice cubes as an occasional treat – try it next summer if you haven’t already.
When it comes to ice on the sidewalks though, there are the expected winter challenges. It can be slippery and cold on your pet’s feet. Make sure they can get away from the cold – if you’ve got a fireplace, keep it lit! If your pet’s particularly sensitive of the foot, why not try some outdoor dog booties when you go for a walk?
What you need to know about pet safe products!
Unfortunately, just because the label says it’s a pet friendly ice melt it doesn’t mean it’s true. Ice melting products aren’t regulated, so there can be misleading claims.
A lot of deicers labeled as “pet safe” will use pictures of happy pups and may make extravagant claims about how effective they are. It’s important to ignore these marketing ploys and look at the ingredients.
Some tips are:
- Avoid products that may smell sweet or have an attractive taste, as this could encourage your dog to eat them.
- Follow the instructions on the label.
- Avoid products with any warnings like “keep away from children” or mention a risk of irritation to skin or eyes.
- Look out for warnings that the product may cause damage to paint, wood, or gardens.
- Keep your driveway clear of slush to avoid your pet coming into contact with dissolved ice melt.
- Wipe your dog’s paws off before coming inside.
Keep Doggos Paws Safe With pet safe ice melts
One ingredient in many pet friendly ice melts is calcium magnesium acetate (CMA). By itself, this product won’t hurt your pet’s paws. Unfortunately, it isn’t always a great ice melter so is often mixed with salt and chemicals. It’s also toxic when consumed in large quantities.
Urea is a very common ingredient for a pet friendly ice melt but is a bit of a sham. Although it won’t harm your pet’s paws, it also won’t melt your ice. It can cause damage to surrounding plants and contaminate water and is also expensive.
Urea is also listed as Carbonyl Diamide or Carbamide Resin on some labels, so keep your eyes open to avoid wasting your time and money!
Safe Paw ice melter—What Is A Safe Paw ice melt?
One of our favorite off-the-shelf products is Safe Paw. It’s non-toxic and contains zero salt and chlorides. It’s safe not only for your pets but for children and the environment.
It comes in the form of green pellets with active ingredients. It has liquid and crystal components that help break surface tension and destabilize the ice, making it easy to shovel away sludge and keep your driveway clear. Plus it leaves a kind of “shield” that will stop ice from forming on your concrete or sidewalk for a few days.
Safe Paw—The Best Ice Melt For Pets!
There are a few products on the market that present themselves as being pet safe – but as we’ve already seen, some are better than others. Shop around.
Redmond Ice Slicer – Ice Melt Salt, Kid & Pet Safe Deicer, All-Natural Granular Slicer
Redmond started off producing ice melters for roads and highways, and have more recently brought this to a home level. They have some good non-toxic, natural products!
Buy it here!
Petsell, Paw Thaw Ice Melt for Pets
This is another common product. It’s biodegradable and doesn’t use salts, so you won’t have the same issues you get with chloride-based products. But it does come with a “Harmful if swallowed” label and can irritate eyes.
Safe Paw Non-Toxic Ice Melter Pet Safe
The ingredients used in Safe Paw are nontoxic, and it does effectively melt the ice. So this is always our first choice when the snow starts falling!
Buy it here!
Pet safe ice melt homemade recipes!
Want to try making your own pet friendly ice melt? In a container and try mixing together:
- 1 tsp of eco-friendly dishwashing cleaners or soap
- 1 tbsp rubbing alcohol
- 1/2 gallon hot water.
Depending on the size of your driveway or area for de-icing you may need to make more. This will melt the existing ice and help prevent it forming again. You also won’t need to worry about trekking any product or pellets into your house when you walk inside.
There are no salts or chemicals to hurt your pet’s paws in this DIY solution!
While it’s not an ice melt product – why not consider accessories like dog booties for that daily walk? They’ll keep your dog’s feet warm in winter, give them more traction in icy conditions, and prevent them coming into contact with ice melters.
Here are a few more tips and tools to keep your outdoor space safe for your pet (and you!) in freezing conditions:
- Keep at least the path from sidewalks to your front door clear.
- Water heaters and hot water can be handy for melting snow, but be sure to clear any melt and liquid afterward or it will freeze.
- Use incandescent light bulbs on your porch. The heat melts snow so they’ll still be visible on those dark winter nights.
- An ice mower with blades that cut ice can help control particularly thick ice.
Ice melt safe for dogs—Your Dog Will Thank You!
Winter is hard enough on your pup’s feet already. So when the snow starts to fall – then keeps falling, then freezes – use a pet safe ice melt and your dog will be grateful!