De-icing salts, used to melt snow and ice during cold weather, can be hazardous to pets. Accidental ingestion may occur after dogs walk on treated surfaces and then lick their paws. It is important to wipe off your pet’s paws immediately following exposure.

background of salt crystals

The most commonly used de-icing formulation contains sodium chloride, a toxin when ingested in large quantities. Other ice melting formulations (potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium acetate) are less toxic but also more expensive.

Signs and symptoms of toxicity: Vomiting is most often the first clinical sign of toxicity. Others signs may include diarrhea, depression, lethargy, tremors, seizures, shortness of breath, and disorientation. These signs have been reported within 3 hours of ingestion. De-icing salts can also cause skin irritation, burns and cracks on the paw pads.

Toxic Consumption: Toxicosis may occur with 2-3 g/kg (0.9-1.3 g/lb) of sodium chloride ingestion. Consumption of 4 g/kg (1.8 g/lb) can be fatal.

Dogs: Sodium Chloride Toxic Consumption
X-Small
Yorkie, Chihuahua
Small
Pug, Boston Terrier, Poodle
Medium
Beagle, Scottish Terrier
Large
Boxer, Cocker Spaniel
X-Large
Retriever, German Shepherd
XX-Large
Great Dane, St. Bernard
1 – 10 lbs.
(0.45 – 4.6 kg)
11 – 25 lbs.
(5 – 11.4 kg)
26 – 40 lbs.
(11.8 – 18.2 kg)
41 – 70 lbs.
(18.6 – 31.8 kg)
71 – 90 lbs.
(32.3 – 40.9 kg)
91 – 110 lbs.
(41.4 – 50 kg)
dog1 dog2 dog3 dog4 dog7 dog6
> 0.05 Tbsp > 0.5 Tbsp > 1.3 Tbsp > 2 Tbsp > 3.5 Tbsp > 4.5 Tbsp

 

Cats: Sodium Chloride Toxic Consumption
Most Cats

Large Cats
1 – 10 lbs.
(0.45 – 4.6 kg)
11 – 25 lbs.
(5 – 11.4 kg)
cat1 fat cat
> 0.05 Tbsp > 0.5 Tbsp

References:
– Osweiler, G, et al. (2011). Blackwell’s five-minute veterinary consult clinical companion. Small Animal Toxicology. [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com