Protecting your pet: Why ice melts can be dangerous for your furry friends

Most common issues include an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea

For many people across the country, the return of winter also means the return of snow and ice.

It's common to use ice melts to keep stairs, sidewalks and driveways from building up ice. Most products use sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, but those ingredients could be dangerous for your pets.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some tips to consider when choosing an ice melt.

Pets don't usually ingest the ice melts on purpose, but they could be exposed if they lick their paws or eat snow that has ice melts in it.

Keeping your pet safe and healthy this Christmas

And the ASPCA says that while most ingestions are accidental, some pets enjoy the taste and could eat it directly from the package if they're given a chance.

The most common issues when a pet ingests ice melt are an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. It's important to note that the vomiting or diarrhea can be severe in some cases and cause your pet to become dehydrated.

But those aren't the only issues that could arise.

Ingesting too much ice melt can lead to an elevation in sodium levels in your pet, and that can lead to tremors and seizures, according to the ASPCA.

Holiday foods your dog can safely eat and ones to avoid

Here's what you can do to minimize the potential health hazards for your furry friends:

  • Don't let your dog eat any salt or snow that may have been treated with an ice melt.
  • When your pet comes back inside, be sure to wipe their paws with a damp cloth or baby wipe.
  • Minimize paw licking until they're completely clean.
  • If your pet's paw pads are becoming sensitive, cracked or bleeding, use paw wax or even get some mini boots to help minimize the risk and provide more protection.
  • Keep all packages and containers of ice melt out of your pet's reach.

So, what should you look for when choosing an ice melt that's safe for your pet?

The ASPCA says to look for packaging that clearly states it's "pet friendly" to help avoid an illness. Pet-friendly ice melts contain urea or magnesium chloride, and while those are typically safer, they could still cause an upset stomach.