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MILLICENT MCKAY: Get rid of snow and ice – but not at the expense of your pets

Snow and ice removers can have a big impact on pets - even items labelled as pet-friendly aren't always safe to use.
Snow and ice removers can have a big impact on pets - even items labelled as pet-friendly aren't always safe to use. - Millicent McKay

Millicent McKay
Millicent McKay

I love my pets, and I’ll do whatever is in my power to keep my furry friends and healthy. 

Speaking of healthy (see that transition there – pretty smooth right?) I recently spoke with emergency veterinarian Dr. Maggie Brown-Bury of the Veterinary Specialty Centre of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Now, you might be thinking what has this got to do with homes? But folks, it’s wintertime, we’re using snow-removal and de-icer products around our homes, if not right on our front stoops.

Don’t you want to know if the products you’re using around your home are safe for your furry friend?

Brown-Bury has seen first-hand the effects snow, ice and other removers can have on a dog’s paws or worse, their overall health if ingested. 

“Basically, when it comes to ice removal, there are products labelled as ‘pet safe.’ But even the ones labelled aren’t 100 per cent safe. The biggest issues are irritation on paws and possible gastro-intestinal problems.”

She said the best way to protect a pup’s paws is by prevention. 

“There are balms and slaves that can be used to help heal and protect paws from snow and ice. There are boots dogs and other animals can wear.”

Brown-Bury rinses her pup’s paws off after walking outside. 

“I keep a two-litre pop bottle at the door and attached a shower nozzle so I can rinse off the paws and her underbelly. Just wiping off the paws isn’t always enough. You’ve dried off the paws, but you haven’t gotten rid of the salt. Salt and ice might be stuck in between their pads, they could end up licking their paws because they’ve become irritated and then ingest something harmful.”

The best thing to do if you think your animal has ingested salt or other de-icer products is to see a vet. The biggest concern is salt poisoning, which can cause hypernatremia. This can lead to include gastro-intestinal issues and neurological disfunctions. 

“The dog could seem lethargic or start acting funny. Regardless of the cause, the best thing to do is check in with a vet.”

Other side-effects can include vomiting and diarrhea. 

De-icer products, like antifreeze or various windshield washing products, are also harmful to animals. 

“They contain ethylene-gylcol which is incredibly toxic to animals. It’s very lethal,” she said, adding that it can even cause your pet’s kidneys to shut down.

If you’re using these types of products (even those labelled as pet-friendly), it’s best to be cognizant that the cold weather and accompany items used this time of year can irritate and be harmful to pets. 

Millicent McKay is a Summerside-based journalist, columnist and blogger. She’s new to this interior decorating and making a house a home gig – but she’s a homebody determined to make every corner feel like … home! For more by her check out and her Instagram page @modernmillee.

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