What do you do if your dog steps on rock salt or ice melt? First, a short story.
When I was around 10, I had my first puppy. I had dogs in the past as a young child, but this dog was my responsibility.
I remember taking him out after the first snowfall so he could experience snow for the first time.
As soon as we stepped onto the sidewalk, my dog started screaming.
To this day I will never forget that cry.
At first I didn’t know what was wrong. I thought he may have stepped in glass or something so I picked him up and brought him to the bathtub.
As soon as the water ran under his paws the water turned red as blood washed down the drain.
I picked up one paw and so no glass, but his paw pads were in horrific condition.
I picked up another paw and it was just as bad. It literally looked like my dog walked over hot coals.
After an emergency trip to the vet, they explained to me that dogs can literally die from walking on rock salt.
How did more people not know this?
As we drove our foot bandaged pup home, I vowed to never let this happen to any of my dogs again.
What is Rock Salt?
Rock Salt is the chemical composition of sodium chloride. Basically, it’s really big chunks of super-powered salt.
Sodium chloride lowers the freezing point of water and creates a chemical reaction with the ice.
In addition, rock salt has the added bonus of instant traction for cars on the road and people walking on the street.
However, when our dog’s walk on it, rock salt can pose a serious threat to their health.
Signs of Rock Salt Ingestion
You may think that your dog is smart enough to not eat rock salt off the ground or out of the bag, but this usually isn’t the problem.
Rock salt sticks to your dogs fur and feet. So when they try grooming themselves later on, they end up ingesting some in the process.
Ingesting more than 4 milligrams of sodium per kilogram of body weight can cause kidney failure and be deadly to your dog. 🙁
Signs that your dog may have ingested rock salt include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increased urination
- Quick drop in blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Excessive salivation
- Excessive thirst
If your dog exhibits any of these signs after playing outside or coming home from a walk in the winter, you should contact your vet immediately and tell them you believe your dog may have rock salt or ice melt toxicity.
If you can, bring a list of the ingredients in the rock salt to the vet so they can take action more quickly.
Once your vet has diagnosed rock salt toxicity in your dog, they will begin treating them.
This usually includes intravenous fluids, nutritional support, anti-seizure, anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea medications.
Some vets even use activated charcoal as it is a natural substance known to suck out toxic substances in the body. (for humans too!)
Once your dog can return home, it’s important to give them lots of water to flush out their system of any remaining toxins.
Depending on the severity of the case, your dog may need to take permanent anti-seizure medication.
Though this information can seem overwhelming, there are super simple preventative measures to take so your dog avoids rock salt and ice melt as much as possible.
The more measures you take, the safer your dog will be. 🙂
Avoid Salt When Possible
Try to avoid rock salt and ice as much as possible. At your own house, your backyard is the perfect safe place for your dog to play and run around.
You can also go for short winter hikes in the woods, just be careful in the parking lot!
A safe alternative to rock salt and ice melt is regular old sand, so you can use this instead for your walkways and driveway.
Personally, I skip walking the dogs when I know a snowstorm is coming and people are putting down salt.
But if you want to walk your dogs, try to avoid the sidewalk and street and have them walk in the grass instead.
Snow Shoes for Dogs
Getting snow shoes for your dog is probably the best preventative measure you can take.
Not only do they protect your dogs feet, but your dog will probably walk super funny when wearing them!
Try to get shoes that have velcro and are difficult for your dog to pull off. They may not like them, but it’s good for their health!
Keep Wipes on Hand
When walking your dog in the wintertime, always keep a wet towel or baby wipes on hand in case your dog steps in rock salt.
This way you can quickly wipe off their paws right there instead of having to wait until you get home.
I like to put a few baby wipes in a ziplock bag to keep in my pocket in case anything happens.
Use Paw Balm
I really wish more people knew about Paw Balm. (I always forget what it’s called so I end up calling it “paw sauce” LOL)
Almost every dog I know has dry, cracked paws. I know personally when I can’t find hand cream that I can get a little erratic, imagine how dogs must feel and they can’t say anything!
I’ve been using Natural Dog Company’s Paw Balm for the past few months after switching from a different brand.
Their paw balm softens my dogs paws instantly, and also helps their dry, cracked noses too!
They have many other products I have yet to try, but so far, I’m impressed!
Paw balm is now a regular part of our grooming routine, and I’ll never let my dogs have cracked paws again!
We’ve now learned what rock salt is and what to do if your dog ingests or steps in it.
If you live where it snows, rock salt and ice melt are pretty much unavoidable in the winter.
By using sand instead of salt, wearing footgear, and using paw balm, you’ll be taking the preventative steps every dog mom should to keep their dog safe this winter. 🙂