The snow is falling and the wind is howling outdoors. It is time to take Rover for a walk, so you bundle yourself and the dog up in warm coats and out you go to play.
The dog takes one look at the bounty of snow that Mother Nature dropped and he is a happy camper. Nose to the ground, he scoots through the snow with ease. Rover jumps and plays. He seems to have more energy than he’s had in a long time.
While all of this is great, there are a few precautions that dog owners need to take. One is to always provide plenty of fresh water so that the dog does not consume a lot of contaminated snow while trying to quench his thirst.
One of the main contaminates is snow melt and dog owners need to realize the importance of keeping their pets away from these products, which can contain toxic chemicals. While it may be impossible to avoid snow melt products, there are a few things you can do to insure your dog’s safety.
One of the easiest and safest measures you can take to protect your dog is to thoroughly wash his or her paws after a romp in the outdoor winter weather. This cleansing will go a long way in protecting your dog from the harmful chemicals used in some snow melt products.
In 2000, the ASPCA issued an alert about the toxins found in ice melt products. In 2001, Health Canada and Environment Canada officially declared road salt to be a toxic product.
The toxicity in snow melt products is due to chloride compounds used to make them. They can contain sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride or magnesium chloride. According to the ASPCA, four grams of sodium chloride per one kilogram of body weight is enough to be lethal for dogs.
While most dogs would not consume enough snow melt to be lethal, they can become ill from ingesting the chemicals. Ice melt products can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, anorexia, disorientation, excessive thirst and seizures.
The salt used in ice and snow melt products can cause problems because it can heat up to a temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit when exposed to water and ice. When this happens, the salt can burn the dog’s skin, mouth or digestive tract, leading to costly veterinary treatments.
One of the best things you can do to protect your dog from snow melt chemicals is to think green and purchase ones that are deemed safe for pets. There are several products available at hardware and pet stores. Try some. If they work for you, try spreading the word to your neighbors.
Obviously, you cannot control your neighborhood’s use of snow melt products, so don’t allow your dog to drink from puddles along the sidewalks or roadways. Melted snow can still contain a lot of the dangerous salts used in many of the ice-eating products.
A little diligence will go a long way in protecting your dog from the perils of winter.