Dear Pet Lovers,
When you drive behind our snow removal trucks and salt trucks, you know that rock salt will corrode the metal and paint of your car. We do all we can to protect our cars from the corrosive salt however, we let our dogs walk unprotected on the same roads (and sidewalks) we’re protecting our cars from.
Here’s something you can try at home. A little science experiment, if you will!
Fill a zip lock bag with a few drops of water, add a tablespoon of rock salt and zip it up.
What happens will you hold the bag? Do you notice any difference in the temperature?
You’ll feel that it gets hot. Guess what happens when that salt gets between your dog’s toes.
Salt can get lodged in between your dog’s pads and it can heat up to around 170 degrees! That’s hot enough to cause burns. And the pain will cause your dog to lick his paws, which adds more moisture to his feet … and now the salt is on his lips and tongue too.
Rock salt can also irritate his gastrointestinal system . It can and trigger seizures when eaten in large quantities. Unfortunately, our dogs will lick their irritated feet after walking outside in the snow. So if you didn’t know before, then now you know that you should keep your dog away from salt whenever possible! And you should use safer alternatives if you’re looking to melt snow in your own yard.
Steven Vernik, Director of Operations at Gaia Enterprises Inc and creator of Safe Paw Ice Melter, shares some tips on finding the most pet friendly choices.
Before you buy, take the container off the shelf and look at the back label to see if there are any warnings. If you see something that says, ”Keep away from children”, the chances are high that it isn’t all that safe for your pet. If you see that it causes irritation to eyes, skin, etc., or that it’s harmful if swallowed, consider whether or not this product is truly safe or just a marketing ploy to get your money.
A good ice melter may carry a heftier price because the components that go into making a truly safe and good ice melter aren’t cheap. If you see a low price tag, you should be suspicious of what’s inside the bag. By mixing cheap chemicals as filler along with salt or other chlorides, manufacturers can say that their product is pet friendly or safer than rock salt when in reality, it isn’t much safer at all.
Here are some ingredients that you need to know about:
Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)
CMA is a relatively safe ice melter, except that it isn’t very effective and doesn’t last long. It’s therefore likely that if your product contains CMA, it’s mixed with salt and or other chemicals to boost its power. CMA is toxic and also extracts moisture from the surface, so be mindful of CMA products on wood decking, rubbers, plastics, etc. If you see CMA as an ingredient, you’ll want to know what else is in the product.
Urea is a pretty decent ice melter. It’s less toxic and less corrosive than chlorides. However, if it isn’t treated and modified, it’s somewhat toxic and is a pollutant (according to the EPA) because of its nitrates. Urea is also costly and expensive to make safe.
Modified Crystalline Carbonyl Diamide
This is a safe ingredient that acts like a sponge and has particulates that disrupt the hydrogen bonds.
Eco Safe Glycol
Glycols can be infused with components that power up its ice melting capabilities, including traction agents and special inhibitors to increase the safety of the product.
Any colorants used should ideally be food grade.
In summary, here are some things to consider when choosing an ice melt product:
- Don’t look for a low cost product. The safe ice melt products use more expensive chemicals and are worth the extra expense.
- Look for a product without any warning labels on it. If a product is not safe for you or your children, it’s not safe for your pets.
- Look for a salt and chloride free product.
- Visit the manufacturer’s website and read about the ingredients, or do some online research.
Finally, even though you may be using a pet safe product, your neighbors and city may not be, so it’s always a good idea after walking your dog to immediately clean his paws with plenty of lukewarm water, then dry them. Some dogs take a while to get used to booties but they’re another solution to keep paws safe.
There are many types of boots available for dogs. Some are great for snow and chemicals on the road. PAWZ makes a set of 12 disposable, reusable boots that are dogs can adjust to rather easily. They are great for road chemicals and will put a layer between the feet and the road but are not heavy enough in extreme cold to protect from freeze. Dog pads are amazing helpers that can keep your dogs’ feet safe to a fairly low temperature, but when they need help, call and we can discuss the best options for your pet.
GoodDog’s TIP OF THE MONTH
Does your dog suffer from itchy skin and ears? Here’s a tip for you that will help without costing an arm or a leg…or a leg and a paw!
Organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
While apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is my favorite brand!) has been touted to help with everything from boosting the immune system and detoxifying kidneys to helping lower cholesterol, here are three popular ways it can help your dog.
ACV can help relieve itchy skin and rashes caused by yeast and poison ivy. The best way to apply is by making a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle and applying directly onto itchy spots, but NOT open wounds – the vinegar will sting if the wound is raw. If you can’t apply topically and yeast is the main concern, you can feed ACV in your pet’s food or water. According to Donna Starita Mehan, DVM, in The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs by Martin Zucker, yeast does not do well in the acid environment ACV creates, so she suggests feeding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon twice daily.
Itchy skin is often accompanied by itchy ears – and nobody wants that. Holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker recommends a proactive cleaning regimen using half ACV and half purified water to prevent ear infection. Check your dog’s ears daily for wax and gunk. Clean dirty ears using individual cotton balls soaked in the solution. Swab out the ears until no gunk appears on the cotton ball.
Flea and Tick Repellant
Even the healthiest, cleanest dog may at some point face the pesky problem of playing host to one or both of these critters. Fortunately, ACV can once again come to the rescue. Before your dog goes out, spray him with that 50/50 solution of ACV and water. And for some added oomph, give 2 tablespoons of ACV in your dog’s food or water during flea and tick season. The same acidity in ACV that repels yeast, also repels ticks and fleas.
Thank you to Dogs Naturally for always keeping us in the know about great ways to help our pets!
Pam, Krister, Rosanna, Kris, and Emily
The GoodDog Team