American Veterinary Medical Association: Keep your pets safe from ice and de-icers

By Dane Sager Kelly - Web Producer

Some short-haired pets may require sweaters to stay warm. Some might wear scarves just to look handsome.

DETROIT - Temperatures are dropping, schools are closing and winter events are being canceled for safety reasons.

RELATED: Metro Detroit school closings: Check Monday's list here

Your pets can be harmed by the weather and by how you deal with the cold and ice.  

With a large winter storm in the forecast for much of the United States, it’s important to take steps to prevent slips, falls and injuries from ice -- not just among people, but among our four-legged friends, as well. This may include the use of de-icers to keep sidewalks, steps, driveways and roads clear of ice.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, de-icers and ice pose risks to pets. In addition to the risk of slips and falls, ice and an icy crust on snow can cause cuts and abrasions to your dog’s paws.

It is important to mitigate all of these risks so you and your dogs (and your neighbors and their dogs) can get out for some fresh air and exercise in the snowy winter weather. 

The AVMA reminds residents some de-icing products, like calcium-based products, may be more toxic, while others, like those containing urea, might be less toxic but are also less effective in colder temperatures. Too much contactcould lead to dry, cracked, bleeding or burned paws, while ingestion can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Call your veterinarian if your pet shows signs of illness or injury.

According to the AVMA, there are no regulations that products must follow in order to be labeled "pet-friendly."  Products like sand and kitty litter can provide some additional traction on icy surfaces, but they won’t melt the ice. 

To lessen the risk of de-icers, always supervise your dogs while outside to prevent them from ingesting salt off the ground, and use a towel to clean off your dog’s paws, legs and belly to remove any de-icers that may be hiding in your dog’s fur or between their toes. 

You can also reduce the risk of injury or illness from de-icers by putting booties on your dog’s paws. Every dog reacts differently, and it may take patience and training to make booties part of your winter routine. You can also apply wax-based petrolatum or lanolin products to protect paws from ice and cold -- just talk with your veterinarian first to determine which products might be best for your dog.

Keep your pet's fur long in the winter. Jackets and sweaters can be used to keep short-haired animals warm.

Don't take pets outside after a bath until they are fully dry. When they do go outside, stay with them to make sure they are safe in the cold.  Don't let cats outside because they can easily freeze.

It's also recommended that you bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting it in the winter, as cats often seek shelter under the hoods of cars. 

To learn more about keeping your pets safe while still enjoying the snowy weather, visit the official AVMA website here.

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