Choosing Pet Friendly Ice Melt

Learn what to look for on the ingredient label
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Abby Jay
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Happy winter dog

With colder temps and heaps of snow just around the corner, you’re likely getting your winter arsenal of ice melt, shovels, and scrapers ready to go. But did you know, not any old ice melt will do when you’ve got a dog living at home? Buying pet friendly ice melt can prevent injury and illness in your dog or outdoor cat.

Whether it’s a slippery sidewalk or a dangerous driveway you need to de-ice, don’t reach for an ice melt product unless it’s pet friendly. The chemicals in some ice melts can irritate dogs’ paw pads, or cause gastrointestinal problems if eaten. Fido may have a winter coat to keep him warm, but his paws or tummy may be in jeopardy depending which ice melt you choose.

The problem with salt

The worst offender for pets are ice melts made using chlorides. Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most common ice melt you’ll see on the market. Not only is salt bad for paws—especially after prolonged exposure—rock salt can be jagged and can irritate the pads on your pet’s feet, causing them to crack and bleed. If your dog ingests a large amount of rock salt, doing so can cause gastrointestinal tract problems, neurological issues, and sometimes even death.

Rock salt is typically the cheapest ice melt option—making it a popular choice for consumers. But it’s not the best for pets. You’ll likely pay a little more for pet friendly ice melt. But it may be worth the extra dough to avoid potential pad cracks or ailments that could end with a visit to the vet.

What makes ice melt pet friendly?

Instead of using chlorides, pet friendly ice melts use chemicals that are less harsh on your pet’s feet and stomach, including potassium, glycols, or urea. While these ice melts might not be as effective as rock salt, they are better to use if you’re a pet owner. If a large amount of these ice melts are ingested by your pet, they aren’t as harmful as rock salt. You should always check with your vet though, if your pet chows down on your ice melt.

Also, don’t buy just any ice melt stamped with a pet friendly seal. Check the product label to see if it contains chlorides. Some ice melts boast being a blend, which in some cases means there is a non-chloride coating over a chloride—which means once that coating melts, you have rock salt.

Our favorite pet friendly ice melt products

Morton Safe-T-Pet Ice Melt GroundWorks Natural Icemelter
Morton Safe-T-Pet Ice Melt GroundWorks Natural Icemelter
Price 8 pounds for $32 ($4.04/lb) 10 pounds for $38 ($3.80/lb)
Buy From Walmart Walmart
Pros With pellets containing no salt or chloride, this ice melt is safe and easy to see. It’s made with urea, which is non-toxic. This potassium ice melt is safe for pets, lawns, and it won’t stain concrete.
Cons Overuse can cause damage to plants. None.

Of course, you can’t control which ice melt your city or town, nearby businesses, or neighbors may use. After taking your dog for a walk on sidewalks, roads, or other areas treated with ice melt, it’s a good idea to wipe paws with a towel to prevent pad irritation. Or, you can go the fancy route, and buy a pair of winter dog booties to prevent paws from coming in contact with ice and ice melt.

No ice melt on the market is guaranteed to be 100 percent safe for your pet. But you’ll want to pay attention to which one you’re stocking up on before the snow flies. Buy pet friendly ice melt, and your dog just might give you a wag of approval!

Which pet friendly ice melt do you use? Let me know!