Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Ice Melt Toxicity in Pets

ice melt salt being sprayed on sidewalk, ice melt toxicity, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

If you witnessed or strongly suspect your pet ingested ice melt, this is considered an “ORANGE” – or urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend calling ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 for help determining if your pet consumed a toxic amount and for guidance on what to do next. If veterinary care is advised, call your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital ahead of your arrival.


As Minnesota gets more snow and ice this winter, ice melt toxicity becomes an increased risk for dogs and outdoor cats. Ice melts are made up of various types of salt, with the most common being sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. The symptoms and severity of this toxin can vary, so it’s important for pet parents to understand the potential dangers and know what to do next if their pet does eat ice melt.

Black dog with snow on snout standing on snow-covered sidewalk with tongue sticking out, ice melt toxicity, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

Types of Exposure 

Often, pets are exposed to ice melt by: 

  • Licking the ground where ice melt was used 
  • Licking their paws after walking through an area where ice melt was used 
  • Eating directly from the ice melt container (Note: some salts have a taste that is appealing to dogs & cats) 

Common Signs 

 The most common clinical signs for ice melt ingestion include: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Decreased appetite 

Depending on the amount eaten and the active ingredient in the ice melt, the electrolytes and minerals in the pet’s blood can be altered. This can lead to much more serious signs, including: 

  • Seizures 
  • Tremors 
  • Increased drinking and urination 
  • Cardiac arrhythmias 
  • Oral irritation and ulcers 

“Pet-Friendly” Ice Melt 

It’s important to note that ice melts advertised as “pet-friendly” or “pet-safe” typically contain urea or magnesium chloride. These ice melts aren’t non-toxic to pets – they’re just unlikely to cause severe signs like the non-“pet-friendly” products. If your pet eats too much of a “pet-friendly” ice melt, they can still experience gastrointestinal upset including vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.   

Veterinarian in blue scrubs and gloves holding clipboard while examining a dog at veterinary clinic, ice melt toxicity, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

What To Do If Your Pet Eats Ice Melt  

The amount of the active ingredient is typically not listed on the package and varies, depending on the manufacturer. If you witness your pet eating ice melt, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888-426-4435) or Pet Poison Helpline at (800-213-6680). There is a fee for the call. Either service will determine if your pet consumed a toxic amount of ice melt and next steps. If they recommend seeking veterinary care, document your pet’s case number so the poison helpline can relay important toxicity information to your veterinary team 

Treatment 

When seeking veterinary care, know that treatment options will vary – depending on your pet’s specific signs and blood work changes. When signs are severe, hospitalization is often recommended. If the exposure was recent, decontamination by inducing vomiting may be an option. Once signs have started, treatment typically involves supportive care, rehydration, and correction of blood electrolyte or mineral abnormalities.  

dog wearing blue winter jacket and yellow booties on feet with neon green leash walking on icy sidewalk with human, ice melt toxicity, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

Best Ways to Keep Pets Safe 

In addition to being toxic, ice melt exposure can be irritating to your pet’s skin and paw pads. You may notice your pet licking their feet, cracked or bleeding paw pads, or acting painful after walking outside or on ice melt.  

To keep your pet’s paws safe and to prevent your pet from eating ice melt, we recommend the following tips: 

  • Avoid walking your dog in areas with heavy use of ice melt 
  • Don’t allow pets to lick or eat ice melt off the ground or off their paws 
  • Always wipe your pet’s paws with a damp, warm washcloth or baby wipes (make sure they are xylitol-free) upon returning inside. Then, dry your pet’s paws and apply a paw balm/wax such as Musher’s Secret 
  • Protect your dog’s paws with dog booties 
  • Store all ice melt in airtight containers in a garage or shed.  

We hope you and your pets are now better prepared to take on the winter months and be safe from any ice melt incidents. If you have questions or concerns about your ice melt, talk to your family veterinarian for a “pet-friendly” recommendation. Have a safe winter, everyone! 

More Reading: 

Latasha Sikes, DVM, emergency veterinarian, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Oakdale emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Fast Track Triage, color-coded triage system, pet emergency, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet, Oakdale emergency vet

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