Sidewalk salts and deicing products are frequently encountered during the winter and although we rarely see them as a hazard to ourselves, we must take a closer look when it comes to our pets. Labels on the bags and containers these products come in often warn of the hazards contained within, but people frequently fail to heed those warnings and pets often suffer the consequences. Chemical deicers contain harsh skin irritants which may burn the skin on your pet’s sensitive paws. The burning sensation and wetness of their feet commonly stimulates an animals’ natural grooming response. Licking their feet in an attempt to provide relief from the chemicals, pets ingest the deicer products and risk toxic poisoning. Ulcerated sores may form on feet, mouth and digestive tract. Toxins entering the body can cause damage to the functionality of organ systems. Deicers commonly contain chemicals such as: Sodium chloride, Potassium chloride, Magnesium chloride and/or Calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium acetate all of which are toxic. Pet owners must take precautions during the winter to prevent poisoning from occurring. Covering your pet’s feet with pet boots, thoroughly washing your pets feet following exposure to potential chemicals and avoiding areas where chemical use is likely are all beneficial to your pet. Outdoor cats are at increased risk due to the lack of supervision during their outdoor excursion. In the event of a suspected ingestion, owners should immediately contact their veterinarian and/or local poison control center. Ingestion of these chemicals is considered an urgent medical concern. Vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite are common indicators to potential poisonings and should be taken seriously; especially when the pet has come in contact with chemicals. Pets that have ingested sidewalk salts may also show signs of increased thirst. Other symptoms may include seizures and neurological signs like disorientation depending on the type of chemical ingested. Pets may also ingest these products by eating snow and ice or drinking water during walks and trips outdoors. Pet owners should consider alternatives to salt and deicer products in order to decrease the risks associated with their use. For more information on the dangers of sidewalk salts and deicers, please contact us at Animal Central.
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Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff