Winter brings with it not only the joy of the festive yuletide season, but also a variety of inconveniences. Temperatures are often bitterly cold and heavy snowfall can create hazardous conditions for humans and animals alike. To melt the ice that covers roads, sidewalks, and driveways, salt is often used, which can be toxic if ingested by dogs. If you own a dog and live in an area with winter weather, it is important to be aware of the dangers of road salt poisoning. Read below to find out what to do if your dog ate road salt. 

The Dangers of Road Salt Poisoning for Dogs

Sodium chloride, commonly referred to as road salt or rock salt, is a natural compound that, while similar to regular table salt, is unrefined and contains more mineral impurities. Though salt is a necessary component of a dog’s diet for proper body functioning, it can be toxic in high concentrations. A veterinarian will have more information regarding salt in your dog’s diet. Dogs, particularly in areas with cold winters, can easily encounter road salt, which is not safe for consumption. Additionally, road salt can also be a choking hazard.

Symptoms of Road Salt Poisoning
There are a few ways that a dog can consume road salt, such as playing in the snow, licking its paws, or digging directly through a salt bag. This can lead to severe sodium poisoning, dehydration, and kidney damage, as well as a range of other clinical signs, including but not limited to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Dehydration
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If your dog were to walk directly on road salt, it is possible that salt could get between its paws, potentially causing inflammation, redness, and a burning sensation. Dogs can wear protective boots to prevent paw irritation. 

Road Salt Poisoning Treatment
For mild cases of road salt poisoning, providing your dog with fresh water can help to stop dehydration and flush out any excess sodium from their system. However, more serious cases will require the immediate attention of your veterinarian. Your vet will administer IV fluids to manage dehydration and balance electrolyte levels, although this must be done gradually, as a sudden drop in blood sodium levels can cause further complications. If your dog has ingested road salt, seek immediate medical help from your veterinarian or call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Pet Poison Helpline®.