With winter comes chemical-laden roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Your dog may not be eating the pellets, but their feet are coming in contact with them. Unfortunately, while ice melt decreases the risks of slips and falls to humans and their furry counterparts, they pose other risks if in contact with the skin or ingested.

dog in snowThe most common types of ice melt are sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium salts or urea-based material. Here are the risks associated with each of these types of ice melt for pets.

Sodium Chloride

Mild ingestions of sodium chloride lead to minor gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and diarrhea. Larger ingestions, can lead to sodium toxicosis, which can be very detrimental to your pets health.

Potassium Chloride

This is a severe irritant and can cause gastrointestinal irritation to the point of hemorrhagic vomiting and diarrhea.

Magnesium Chloride

Ingestions of ice melt containing magnesium can be very irritating and cause some gastrointestinal upset.

Calcium salts

Calcium salts are the most severe irritants in ice melts. Ingestion of calcium salts can cause severe gastrointestinal sings as well as local irritation with skin contact.


Urea based ice melts are generally the ones that are labeled as safe for pets. Or "pet-safe" ice melt. Ingestion of urea leads to salivation and mild gastrointestinal irritation. Large ingestions can lead to other difficulties with your dog.

All ice melt has the potential to be hazardous. But if you take certain precautions, you can avoid the potential hazards. Most of the ice melts only cause gastrointestinal upset. So avoid letting your pet eat any of the ice melts. Try washing your pet’s feet with mild soap and water to remove any irritants that could be present in between their paw pads.

Questions? Feel free to call us at (717) 957-3991 at any time.