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What is Ice Melts Toxicity?

In most ice melts, the main chemical is chloride. This chemical should never be ingested and if you suspect your dog has ingested ice melts you should contact your veterinarian immediately for an emergency visit. Even if your dog walks on ice melts and then licks their paws, they can ingest a large enough amount of the chemical to cause illness including kidney failure or even death.

In winter it is common to see ice melts tossed on icy sidewalks and driveways. Many people use them without realizing the harm that can be caused to their dogs. Not only can exposure to ice melt cause skin irritation or chemical burns on your dog’s feet, but if ingested can cause your dog to become very sick.

Symptoms of Ice Melts Toxicity in Dogs

You may not think about ice melts toxicity if your dog begins showing symptoms of illness. However, if these symptoms occur in the winter after your dog has been outside, it should not be overlooked. You should seek veterinary assistance immediately if your dog begins showing any of these symptoms. Ingesting more than 4 milligrams of sodium per kilogram of body weight can be deadly to your dog.

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased urination
  • Quick drop in blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excessive salivation
  • Excessive thirst
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Causes of Ice Melts Toxicity in Dogs

Ice melts toxicity mostly occurs when your dog walks where ice melts have been applied and then they lick their paws. However, you should never leave a package of ice melts where your dog can easily get into them. Ingestion of ice melts can be fatal. 

The main component for most ice melts is chloride such as potassium chloride, sodium chloride and magnesium chloride. This chemical can cause skin irritation, but more importantly can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, kidney failure and even death.

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Diagnosis of Ice Melts Toxicity in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has ingested ice melts, then you need to seek veterinary assistance immediately. Time is important to minimize the effects of the chemicals in the ice melts. When you go to your veterinary clinic, bring a list of ingredients in the ice melts, if available. 

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and ask you questions regarding your dog’s daily routine, diet and what he may have eaten to make him sick. A complete blood count, urinalysis and biochemistry panel will probably be performed. Kidney function will also be checked and closely monitored. Ingesting chloride can cause your dog to go into kidney failure.

Many times, your veterinarian will be able to determine ice melts toxicity from the symptoms and the current weather. Most ice melts toxicity occurs following winter weather that requires the ice melts to be thrown down on sidewalks and driveways.

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Treatment of Ice Melts Toxicity in Dogs

Once your veterinarian has verified that your dog is suffering from ice melts toxicity they will discuss treatment plans with you. If your dog’s symptoms are severe, then your veterinarian will probably recommend hospitalization so supportive care can begin immediately. 

Supportive Care

Supportive care can be done at home; however, if your dog is severely ill, supportive care should be done at the veterinary clinic so the staff can closely monitor any changes. Supportive care for ice melts toxicity can include intravenous fluids, nutritional support, anti-seizure, anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea medications.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal may be useful if the toxins are still in your dog’s stomach. The activated charcoal will absorb any toxins and safely flush them from your dog’s body before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Medications

Your dog may require medications such as anticonvulsants to keep him from experiencing seizures long term. Topical ointments can be applied if your dog is also experiencing skin irritation from exposure to ice melts. If your dog is prescribed medications, be sure to follow instructions carefully to avoid over or under dosing.

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Recovery of Ice Melts Toxicity in Dogs

Be sure to provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your dog while they are recovering from ice melts toxicity. Your dog will need to rest and recuperate following ice melts toxicity. If the toxicity level is high enough and immediate veterinary care was not sought, your dog may suffer from long-term effects such as kidney damage.

Protect your dog during the winter by providing water prior to them going for a walk or out to play. Discourage him from licking the ground or his paws. When he comes in from a walk, wash his feet to remove any of the chemicals.

Store any ice melts out of your dog’s reach. Do not give him easy access to areas where ice melts are stored. Also, do not allow him to play unsupervised in areas where ice melts have been put down.

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Ice Melts Toxicity Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Pyrenees Mix

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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None

My dog got a calcium chloride dehydration packet in his mouth. He didn’t eat it as I got it out quickly but I was worried that he would get burns or mild poisoning. He is roughly 60 pounds

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, Many times your dog will be just fine. If you notice excessing drooling or salivation, it would be best to see your vet. I hope your dog continues to be great.

July 24, 2020

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Puddles

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Golden Retriever

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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3 found helpful

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Moderate severity

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Vomiting
Vomiting No Energy Not Eating

Not sure if my dog ingested ice melt or not. She is puking up green flem at least once daily for the last 2 days. She will drink water and chicken broth but would not eat canned wet dog food. She was in my lap and I believe she either peed on my leg or it came out of her butt. I also have not seen her poop yet. The first time she puked it smelled like poop. Today's vomit was just green.

Jan. 22, 2018

Puddles' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Regardless of the cause of her condition, she should be seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible, as she sounds like she is becoming quite ill. If she did eat the Ice Melt, that can be quite toxic to her GI tract. Your veterinarian will be able to examine her, determine what might be going on and recommend any treatments that might be necessary to get her feeling good again.

Jan. 22, 2018

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Millie

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Golden Retriever

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Happy And Fear Free

Here's how to avoid this entire problem, switch to a liquid anti-icer. There's no pellets to get trapped into paws and with some, no chloride to upset their tummy. I recommend PlaySAFE Ice Blocker because we market it. Chloride-free, smells / tastes like vinegar (animals are not attracted to it like salt), and it is proven in aviation. www.playsafeiceblocker.com. Switch so that you can stop worrying about this issue (and dealing with ice).

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Popcorn

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Papillon

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Shaking

My dog has been acting a little abnormal but it only lasts for a few hours a day. It started almost two weeks ago. In the evening he’ll tremble and yawn a lot but once he naps for about 2 hours he’s back to normal. I found some ice pellets by his cage and realized that I forgot to vacuum up the few pieces of ice pellets that trailed into the carpet from our front porch, so I’m thinking he ate a few. He did throw up twice; once just water (he drinks and runs around too fast and throws it back up sometimes), second time he threw up food. Other than that, he uses the bathroom regularly, eats drinks and is happy! I don’t know how concerned I should be since most of the day, he’s completely normal and plays with his toys likes nothings wrong! Should I worry about his bout of trembling once a day? I really do suspects he ate one or two pellets, which is why I found them stashed by his cage.

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