Don’t Slip Up With De-Icers

So have you heard the long-range weather reports? Looks like the Portland area may be in for some snow this year…which means folks will be using de-icers or “ice melts” to make driveways and walkways safer.

Problem is commercial de-icing products are usually full of chemicals that are dangerous for pets. They could ingest them when cleaning themselves or suffer significant skin irritation (and even burns).

The most common ones are made of calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium acetate, or chloride salts of potassium, magnesium, and sodium (“rock salt”). Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting as well as elevated blood sodium levels can occur when a pet ingests these products. The calcium-based salts are also known to cause irritation just from resting on the tender skin of bellies and paw pads.

Ethylene glycol-based ice melts can be even more dangerous as they contain the same active ingredients as antifreeze, which is deadly if ingested.

What about de-icers labeled “pet safe”? These products are often urea-based, and while they do cause less irritation to skin, they’re not as good at melting ice. That’s why walkways and parking lots in most towns and cities and around local businesses don’t use pet safe products.

To avoid problems with chemical de-icers, avoid walking through it when possible. If your pet does come into contact with it, be sure to to rinse their paws with water and a gentle soap or shampoo. You might also try booties if you think they will be tolerated.

At your own home, we recommend ditching the de-icers and using kitty litter or fine-grain sand instead, as both are environmentally friendly as well as safe for your pet.

Bundle up and be safe—and call us if you have questions about keeping your pet safe & healthy this winter: 503-446-2450.