As another year passes and the winter holiday arrives again, people begin to dress up for the upcoming snowy weather.

Jackets, gloves, toques, and boots all come out to protect ourselves from the freezing cold. Melting salts are scattered on every road and walkway to prevent sheets of ice from forming and slipping from happening.

While this is an action to protect ourselves, the usage of melting salt can be harmful to our furry companions.

Melting salts work by chemically lowering the freezing point of water, making snow a lot harder to freeze and thus prevent ice formation. While this chemical process is beneficial to humans, it is harmful to pets as it can cause burns and irritation to their skin and pads if they have a long contact time. Since dogs tend to go out for their bowel movements, walking them for a prolonged period of time can cause burns to their paws and subsequently result in infections from a raw paw.

Knowing this, it is crucial to monitor your dog for any signs of pain in their paws during the winter, such as: licking their paws frequently, limping or presence of blood from their paws. Paws should be washed with warm water after every walk to ensure there are no lingering melting salts or “doggy boots” can be worn during walks if your dog allows you to. In addition to physical burns, melting salts are also poisonous to pets. When ingested, they can cause burns internally or result in organ failure. Once ingested, the pet may display signs of diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy or seizures. Thus, it is important to monitor when they are outside to ensure that they are not ingesting the melting salts and to monitor their behaviour after every outdoor trip.

Once December arrives, everyone begins to take precautions for the upcoming winter season to prevent ice from forming. Melting salts are used everywhere to prevent people from slipping and cars from sliding. As beneficial to us as this may be, it is important to remember that pets will be affected by melting salts too and to ensure that they are protected from it; so they can enjoy their winter holiday as well!

Alwin Chan