top of page

The Dangers of Rock Salt for Pets

Rock salt (sodium chloride), as well as many other deicers, pose major hazards to your pets when applied in significant quantities to your driveway and other outdoor pavements. Being aware of these dangers and how to eliminate, or at least minimize, the risks to your cat or dog from rock salt can save your pet's health or even his/her life.

The Dangers of Rock Salt on Paws

When your pet walks on salt, or on a salt-water slush, the salt crystals can attach to the animal's paw pads and cause irritation and burning. It can also lead to inflammation, redness, soreness, and bacterial infection.

One of the easiest things you can do is…

  • Use a "pet-friendly" deicer,

  • Sand mixed with a minimal amount of salt,

  • Simply shoveling/snow blowing are ways to deice without rock salt.

  • Or you can take your dog out to a non-salted area when it’s time instead of just letting him/her to go out alone.

Booties are another easy option. In addition to keeping their toes warm and preventing sand and salt from causing irritation, they are an effective way to protect your canine’s paws because they offer warmth, full coverage, and are durable.

***You’ll want to get your camera phone ready for their first time in boots. The adjustment period is pretty amusing!

If booties aren’t an option, protect your dog/cat during winter by…

  • Clipping long hair between the toes and foot pads to the level of the foot pad only. This will prevent ice balls from building.

  • Also rinse/wipe off their paws when they return from an excursion outside. (Make sure to wipe down the stomachs of those shorter furry friends of ours) with a damp cloth or baby wipes.

  • Minimize paw licking until their paws are completely clean, this will minimize risk for skin irritation and any damage caused by salt, ice, or other residue they may have stepped on during their stroll.

  • After returning from walking on the snow or ice, rub some paw balm, like Biobalm, on your dog’s paw pads, this will minimize the dry skin and damage salt can cause.

  • Make sure to reapply the balm often. Having paw balm on hand is a good way to keep their paws soft and supple during the cold months.

(See our online store for product details

Risks of Ingestion of Rock Salt by Pets

Too much salt in your pet's system can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, seizures, erratic walking behavior, disorientation, extreme tiredness, an unnaturally intense thirst, or unusual drooling or salivating. Salt burns to the mouth and/or gastro-intestinal tract are also possible, along with sodium toxicosis (salt poisoning).

In extreme cases, your dog/cat could even die or fall into a coma as a result of ingesting rock salt, so take the warning signs seriously and call your vet if you suspect there is a problem.

Not only rock salt, but also calcium chloride and certain other deicers can be a danger to your pet if ingested, so monitor him/her closely while out of doors. Otherwise, opt for the non-chemical deicing methods mentioned above. Also, keep in mind that salt tracked in on boots and shoes can accumulate on welcome mats and floors and be ingested by your pet. So, sweep often and wash and clean welcome mats regularly.

***Don’t let dogs eat any of the salt or any of the snow (especially the slushy snow) outside that may have been treated with an ice melt.


Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
Search By Tags
Recent Posts

Erindale Animal Hospital in the News

Follow the link to watch the CTV News Report

Carla Shynkaruk

Multi-Skilled Journalist CTV News Saskatoon

Updated Aug. 23, 2023 10:59 a.m. PDT

Published Aug. 22, 2023 5:43 p.m. PDT

There’s a natural hazard lurking in the weeds in Saskatoon this time of year that dog owners should be aware of because it could mean costly vet bills or even losing your pet.

Foxtails have been seen more over the past five years and pet owners should be on the lookout.

Sophie is a Shih Tzu Pomeranian, and in her 10 years, her owner Hannah Carswell has never had to deal with a foxtail encounter- until this month.

“Sophie was on the deck of my condo, and she started skittering around and I didn’t know what was wrong with her. She was coughing, and choking and hacking,” Carswell told CTV News.

It was nighttime and her vet wasn’t open, so she waited until the morning. That’s when the vet confirmed it was foxtail, a potentially deadly weed according to Veterinarian Miranda Wallace at the Erindale Animal Hospital.

“It is a bigger deal than people would suspect,” Wallace says.

The grassy weed is topped with a sharp needle which can get stuck in a pet’s coat, paws, or worse if ingested.

“Sometimes it can migrate to places, that can cause issues. Granulomas or abscesses in lungs and chest and migrate into sinuses,” according to Wallace. 

Nicole German experienced foxtails with her previous dog and faced $5000 in vet bills.

“She ate them, so we went through two really serious bouts removing hundreds of foxtails under anaesthesia. Removing them from her throat, mouth, esophagus, we almost lost her,” German told CTV News.

Her new dog is only nine months old and hasn’t had a run-in with foxtails, mostly because the family is diligent and watches for them, according to German. She’s also taken to Facebook to warn other dog owners, so they don’t have to endure what she did.

At the Erindale clinic they’re prepared for numerous cases in the summer with foxtail case numbers on the rise over the past five years.

“We’ve had a few cases come in already. We actually have a case coming in today for foxtails.”

Wallace wants pet owners to watch their dogs and closely monitor what they are eating.

“If you notice that your dog is sniffing around in the grass and then starts pawing at their face, sneezing or coughing that could be an indication that they have a foxtail,” she said.

Tent signs have been put up in various locations around the city, in parks and green spaces.

The signs provide little consolation for Carswell and Sophie.

“It was a really scary. I’m paranoid. I will not take her to the dog parks. The small dog park has them.”

The City of Saskatoon said in an email it is currently managing problem foxtail areas.

“(In) 2021, the City began its educational efforts on foxtail, including information on prevention and control techniques for foxtail barley (foxtail) for developers and landowners.”

For more information and to download a copy of the guide, visit

For more information about the amazing product OutFox Field Guard, please check out their website

bottom of page