Rock salt ingestion by dogs

Written by tara m. clapper
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Rock salt ingestion by dogs
Watch for canine rock salt consumption in wintry climates. (Image by, courtesy of Seamus Murray)

In cold climates and during winter months, people sprinkle driveways and roads with rock salt to de-ice the area and make it safe for walking or driving. While rock salt increases safety for drivers and pedestrians, it can be poisonous to your dog.

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Rock salt melts ice to prevent car accidents and falls. Rock salt is not intended for canine or human consumption.


While dogs may consume salty foods in moderation, it is a misconception that rock salt is as safe for them as table salt. Rock salt does contain some of the same ingredients as table salt (sodium chloride); however, it also contains chemicals, such as magnesium, that are harmful to your dog.


Since people sprinkle rock salt on sidewalks, it can damage the pads on the bottom of a dog's paws. As a result, the dog may lick the harmful salt from its paws resulting in burns to its mouth and throat. Repeated ingestion of rock salt can also lead to kidney problems or pancreatitis.


Large dogs are more apt to develop complications after they consume rock salt because they tend to drink excessive amounts of water. This can result in a condition called bloat which requires immediate emergency attention.


To prevent your dog from ingesting rock salt, keep the fur on its paws clipped short and wipe them with a warm, damp rag after walking in salted areas. If your dog consumes rock salt, immediately give your pet a small meal and a little bit of water.

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