Are you looking for the best pet-safe ice melt that will do a great job of clearing your pathways but will not be harmful to your precious pets? Ice melts that use alternative chemicals to sodium chloride (salt) are less likely to cause health issues if ingested and are kinder to paws. They are also less likely to damage your garden surfaces and the environment. However, not all ice melt products labeled as “pet friendly” are 100% pet-safe. This is because in order to melt snow and ice, these products have to contain certain harsh chemicals that shouldn’t be consumed, but our pets being pets may end up sniffing and licking the stuff. The good news is, there are plenty of ice melts that are safer than others and that you can safely use even if your pooch or kitty is an exceptionally curious pet.
To help you choose the right product for your home and pet, we’ve rounded up some of the best ice melt products that the market has to offer. We’ve also put together a comprehensive buying guide, so read on!
The 10 Top Rated Pet Safe Ice Melts
- Safe for kids, pets and plants
- Non-corrosive and non-conductive
- Melts at -2°F
- Lasts for 72 hours
Safe Paw is a non-corrosive kid and pet safe product for clearing paths and roads of snow and ice in low temperatures. It is also non-conductive and safe to use on cured concrete. Because you need so little of it, it lasts for a full 72 hours, and has a long shelf life, making it a cost-effective option. It works in two ways – there is a liquid that instantly melts ice to break the surface tension so that the crystal core can penetrate the ice and speed up melting. The compound itself attracts heat as the endothermic reaction uses energy from the sun to work even more effectively.
This deicer can be used on decking. The pellets will not harm your dog, cats or other animals that come into contact with it. It will not hurt their eyes, paws or skin and will not even harm them if it is ingested.
- Will not damage cured concrete
- Very little is needed
- Lasts for 72 hours
- Has a long shelf life
- The pellets themselves can be slippery
- Pellets can become embedded in dog’s paws
- Safe for sidewalks and walkways
- Exothermic reaction
- Contains magnesium chloride
- Melts at -10°F
Green Gobler is a great ice melt that works at very low temperatures and can be applied using a spreader or by hand. It contains naturally harvested magnesium chloride which is highly effective at ice melting and keeping driveways, sidewalks and walkways clear of ice and snow. It works at temperatures as low as -10 degrees F but does not contain salt so it is much less likely to cause concrete spalling. The exothermic reaction is effective even in the harshest of conditions.
Importantly, this product is also completely safe to use if you have pets. It has low toxicity and is gentle on the sensitive paws. It will not cause stomach upsets if ingested in small amounts but, of course, pets should be discouraged from eating a lot of it.
- Works at -10 degrees F
- Does not contain salt
- Will not cause stomach upsets in pets if ingested in small amounts
- Only minor corrosion to concrete and steel
- No information given on how long it lasts
- May leave a messy residue on some surfaces
- Contains calcium chloride
- Fast-acting and long-lasting
- Safe for concrete, metal, wood
- Applied direct from the bottle
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly but fast-acting ice melting product that’s relatively gentle on pet paws, check out Natural Rapport. This product contains calcium chloride as a time-release formulation so it lasts longer and helps to prevent re-icing. It’s very easy to apply as it comes with a cap that allows you to use the right amount every time.
This safe paw ice melt is a non-toxic and non-corrosive alternative to traditional rock salt. If it gets tracked back into your house on paws and boots it will not damage carpets and rugs. It drastically reduces corrosion rates on cars. You can apply this ice melt directly from the bottle and because it is green, you can see where you have applied it so there is less waste.
- Long lasting thanks to the time-release formulation
- Easy to apply
- Comes with a measuring cap
- Safe to use on many surfaces
- Not safe to be ingested by dogs
- Cannot be used on stone, brick, wood or precast concrete
- Contains calcium magnesium acetate
- Superior traction control
- Color coated for ease of application
- Eco- and pet-friendly
An affordable yet long-lasting and effective ice melter containing calcium magnesium acetate for effective ice clearance on a range of surfaces. These crystals offer superior traction control and are color-coated so you know exactly where you have applied them. It starts working on contact and will prevent ice from forming again during winter conditions. This product also contains an anti-caking agent so it has a longer shelf-life.
This benign compound does not damage path surfaces or the bodywork of cars and trucks. It’s also gentler on dog’s paws and should not cause irritation to their skin. This makes it a safer alternative to rock salt, plus it does not leave a slimy residue on your outdoor surfaces!
- Color coded crystals to aid coverage
- Crystals have good traction
- Long shelf life
- No slimy residue to clear away
- Some pet owners reported paw irritation
- No definitive list of ingredients is provided
- Graded crystals for traction
- Contains more than 60 minerals
- One bag covers 400 square feet
- Safe for pets and wildlife
A natural ice melt that is both environmentally friendly and highly effective. The graded crystals provide excellent traction and because it contains more than 60 minerals, it starts working faster and lasts longer than rock salt and sodium chloride alone. It’s also a cost-effective way of clearing ice as one bag will cover 400 square feet.
The product contains no dyes or polymers and is therefore a safer option for your pets, wildlife, and the surfaces of your yard and driveway. By using this product you are drastically reducing the alkali load that you are adding to the environment. However, do bear in mind that this ice melt is still made from salt, so it may not be suitable for dogs and cats who have very sensitive paws.
- Starts working faster than rock salt
- Longer lasting than rock salt and sodium chloride
- Less likely to affect pH of surrounding soil
- Contains no dyes or polymers
- Made from salt and could therefore cause paw irritation
- Can leave a residue that needs to be washed away
- Kind to dog’s paws
- Contains magnesium chloride
- Works down to -13 degrees F
- Better for concrete than rock salt
You can avoid any issues with sore dog’s paws by using this magnesium chloride ice melt that will not irritate or burn your pet’s delicate skin. Because it comes as smooth round pellets, it also does not cause injuries or abrasions.
This fast-acting ice melter gets to work as soon as you spread it and is suitable for all sorts of surfaces including sidewalks, driveways, steps and patios. The chemical compound will carry on working at temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also kinder to the environment than rock salt ice melters and causes less corrosion than both sodium chloride and calcium chloride making it better for your concrete surfaces. Importantly, the constituent chemicals have been listed with the Organic Minerals Research Institute. As a bonus, the product comes with a handy scoop for easy application.
- Smooth pellets are safe for paws
- Suitable for multiple surfaces
- Fast acting to clear ice
- Comes with a handy scoop
- Magnesium chloride needs to be applied in larger quantities
- White in color so hard to see where it has been applied
- Effective at -25 degrees F
- Gentler on surfaces than salt
- Safe for kids, pets and plants
- Contains fertilizer
Keep It Green’s Snow & Ice Melter is a safe and toxin-free product that is kind to your pathways and that will not irritate your dog’s paws. It will also not harm vegetation and does not cause staining inside your house if it gets tracked into your carpets or solid floors.
It clears snow and ice quickly and effectively and can be used on pavements and driveways without damaging concrete. It has a bright green color so it shows up clearly on the ice and you get great coverage with no wastage. It carries on working, even when temperatures plummet. In fact, it’s marketed as being effective in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit! This ice melter does not contain calcium chloride, instead, it draws in water from the environment. The formulation even includes a fertilizer that will keep your lawn lush even in harsh weather. As the ice melt is washed away, the nutrients enter the soil and nourish the plants.
- Works at very low temperatures
- You can see where you have applied it
- Added fertilizer for your lawn
- Contains no calcium chloride
- Some crystals are large and jagged
- Contents of the bottle can clump together
- No chlorides – safe for pets
- Smooth pellets won’t damage paws
- Safe for plants and shrubs
- Will not damage surfaces
Made without any chlorides, including magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium chloride, this snow and ice melter can help your pup avoid skin irritation, sore paws and upset stomachs that are often associated with some other commonly used ice melts. The product consists of smooth pellets that do not lodge in paws and don’t cause painful abrasions. And, as soon as it comes into contact with snow and ice it starts working.
This product carries on being effective down to temperatures of -15 degrees C. You can spread it by hand using the useful shaker jug or you can use it as a rotary spreader. Because it contains no harmful chemicals, you can use it safely on sidewalks and walkways without damaging the concrete but it is also safe for decking and lawns. So, if it leaches onto your garden it will not harm shrubs and plants, and if it gets tracked back inside, it will not damage rugs and flooring.
- Contains no chloride salts
- Works as low as -15 degrees C
- Safe for multiple surfaces
- Will not damage interior flooring
- Not as effective as some other products
- White in color so you cannot see where it has been applied
- Provides excellent traction control
- Does not damage concrete
- Effective to 0 degrees F
- No sticky residue
A fast-acting and highly effective ice melt that is a gentler alternative to salt. It provides excellent traction control to prevent slipping and to make walkways safe. It does this without harming concrete surfaces because it forms a protective layer on the surface. However, it should not be used on concrete that is less than a year old.
It works quickly to break the bond between ice and the ground surface and will carry on working down to temperatures of zero degrees Fahrenheit. It is less harmful to pets than traditional ways of melting ice with salt, however, it may not be suitable for pets with very sensitive skin. The product will also not harm plants and will not damage floor surfaces if it gets tracked back inside your house. And when it gets to work, it does not produce a sticky residue.
- Provides a safe surface to walk on
- Gentle on concrete that is over a year old
- Does not produce a sticky residue
- Dissolves in water and has no odor
- Blue dye can get tracked back into your home
- May cause some damage to concrete
- Salt and chloride free
- Safe for pets
- Approved by veterinarians
- Blue color for even application
Morton Ice Melt is a highly effective but gentle way of clearing ice from walkways and yard surfaces. It comes in an 8-pound jug which covers about 340 square feet – plenty of product for two single-car driveway applications.
Most importantly for our dogs and cats though, this product has been developed with the help of veterinarians and is much safer for pets than traditional ice melting products that contain salt. This is because this ice melt is completely chloride-free. Conveniently, it carries on working down to 10 degrees F and is a pale blue color to help with even application.
- Developed with the help of vets
- Free from salts and chlorides for safety
- Colored blue so it can be applied efficiently
- Good coverage – cost effective
- Pellets tend to bounce off hard surfaces
- May damage some older concrete
Best Pet Safe Ice Melt Buying Guide & FAQ
Now that we’ve covered some of the best pet-friendly ice melt products on the market, it’s time we talk about what ice melts really are, why they can be dangerous to pets, and how you can identify the right ice melter for your needs. And if after reading our buying guide you still need more info on these products? Our FAQ section may be able to help!
What Are Ice Melts?
Ice melts are chemical products that you apply to outdoor surfaces to prevent ice and snow from causing slip hazards. They work by lowering the freezing temperature of water, thereby breaking down the ice and bond between the ice and the surface. They’re able to do this thanks to the chemicals they contain, such as sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, urea, propylene glycol and others. They’re very easy to use and you can apply them either by hand or using a spreader.
Things to Look For When Buying an Ice Melt for Pets
When buying an ice melter, check what temperatures it will work at. If you live in an area with extremely cold winters, you’ll need an ice melter that works at very low temperatures. You may also want a product that is kind to concrete surfaces and that will not damage plants. Also, check out the color! If it’s brightly colored you can see where you have spread it.
These are just some of the things to consider before buying ice melt products. Another important thing to pay attention to is what the ice melter consists of. This is especially important if your pets like going outside non-stop. So, here are some of the chemicals to familiarize yourself with for the benefit of your dog or cat.
- Sodium chloride: this is just a fancy name for regular salt. Most ice melt products contain rock salt which does a very good job at breaking the ice. However, if consumed in large amounts, sodium chloride can be lethal to dogs. If consumed in small amounts, it can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting.
- Potassium chloride: another type of salt, potassium chloride may be good for the environment but it’s very dangerous to pets as it can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, including hemorrhagic vomiting or diarrhea.
- Calcium chloride: widely used in ice melt products, calcium chloride does a great job at lowering the freezing temperature of water. However, it’s quite tough on paws and can cause vomiting and diarrhea if consumed.
- Magnesium chloride: another natural type of salt that lowers the freezing temperature of water. Unlike sodium chloride, magnesium chloride is gentler on paws, however, you should still very careful with this chemical if your pup suffers from kidney problems.
- Ethylene glycol: you’re probably familiar with this ingredient as it’s the main active in antifreeze. Avoid it at all costs as it’s extremely toxic to both cats and dogs.
- Propylene glycol: chemically similar to ethylene glycol, propylene glycol also helps lower water’s freezing point. But, unlike ethylene glycol, this chemical is much safer for pets. This said, propylene glycol can lower a cat’s red blood cells if consumed.
- Urea: this is a natural, biodegradable substance that’s considered safe for pets. Unfortunately, urea can be harmful to plants and lawns.
- Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA): this chemical is added to ice melt products that contain salt to help make them more effective. Thankfully, it’s both eco-friendly and pet-safe.
Dangers of Ice Melters for Pets
Ice melt products can be dangerous if you or your pet are exposed to it through skin, paws or other sensitive body areas. Prolonged or repeated exposure to just about any ice melt has the potential to cause issues. You should always be on the look out for this by checking your pet’s paws regularly. If there are any irritated, red areas or rashes, your vet should check them out.
Ingestion and the associated gastrointestinal irritation is another potential hazard. In general, the more of the product that is ingested, the greater the hazard. If your dog or pet has consumed some ice melt, you should consult your vet and have the container at hand so that you can tell them exactly what has been ingested. Ice melt products based on sodium chloride can cause high blood sodium levels which may lead to weakness, lethargy and muscle twitches. Sadly, this can deteriorate into a coma or even death, so always keep your eye on your pet while outside!
Helpful Tips For Using An Ice Melter with Pets
There is a lot that you can do to reduce the risk posed by any ice melt. The obvious thing is to thoroughly wash paws after pets have walked over a treated surface. You could consider using a paw wax to provide further protection or you could buy some nice dog booties. However, be careful that your pooch does not chew at the booties because that will result in them ingesting a lot of the melt!
Related Post: Dog Paw Washer
To cut down the risk of ingestion, always use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions and keep it locked up, with the lid securely in place, when not in use. If your pooch does ingest a large amount, you must seek advice from your vet right away.
How Do I Know If Ice Melt is Hurting My Dog?
There are two ways in which ice melts can cause harm to your pet. The first is caused by contact with their skin – this is called topical. Any part of the skin or body surface can be affected but the paw pads are most vulnerable. The more exposure to salt that paw pads get, the more likely they are to get damaged. This is something to bear in mind if your dog walks a lot on salted sidewalks. Affected paw pads will look red and irritated and you may notice that your dog is limping or obsessively licking their paw.
If a dog has licked an ice product or melted ice that is contaminated with the salt, it can cause mouth irritation. You may notice them getting distressed and pawing at their mouth or rubbing it against things to ease the discomfort. Swallowing the product can also cause harm and you will know that there is a problem when your dog vomits or has seizures. You should call your vet right away because if blood sodium levels rise very high it can prove fatal.
Why You Should Use Pet-Safe Ice Melt
An ice melt product can cause a lot of damage to your pet’s health. Regular ice melts often contain harsh salts that can damage a dog’s sensitive paws. A pet safe ice melt will use other chemicals that are considered gentler for pets.
Also, pet safe ice melts are often kinder to the environment and are not so likely to damage your plants and lawn. Many have been designed in collaboration with vets so that you can clear ice but not harm animals while you are doing it. These products may also be more gentle on surfaces such as concrete and decking and will cause less damage if you accidentally track them back inside your home.
6 DIY Pet-Friendly Ice Melts
Once the cold weather arrives you could try making your own ice melting products that you can be sure are pet safe. Here are our top six ideas.
Soap and Alcohol
You can make your own pet safe ice melt for slippery surfaces by combining half a gallon of warm water, six drops of dishwashing detergent and two ounces of rubbing alcohol in a large bowl. Simply mix the ingredients together and then apply it to icy patches on your drive or yard.
Sand and dirt can be a useful way of gaining traction on slippery surfaces. It does not melt the ice but it provides a surface that is safer to walk on. When it gets washed away it is harmless to the surroundings and it does not damage a dog’s paws.
Wood ashes can be another useful way of providing traction on slippery ice patches. The ashes are dark and absorb heat from the sun and this can help with melting the ice. Also, they are a natural product. The only problem is that you will need to clean your dog’s paws after they have walked over them.
Warm water can be used in a limited way but you have to be careful. It can re-freeze and make the situation worse. You should only use it when conditions are quite mild and then sweep the water and melted ice off the path so that it does not refreeze.
The most labor-intensive but also the most satisfying method is to scrape away the ice with a shovel and finish off with a stiff brush. A snow shovel is wide and will clear more area with each swipe. There is no damage to the environment or chemicals to worry about. However, you do need to be careful on delicate or intricate tiles as you could damage them with a metal shovel.
Alfalfa meal makes a great natural ice melt. It does contain some nitrogen but not enough to damage plants or water systems. It has a grainy texture that makes surfaces less slippery and helps to melt ice. You can purchase it from most gardening supplies stores and you simply sprinkle it on affected areas.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick is Safe Paw Ice Melt as it’s a completely safe and non-corrosive product that lasts for a full 72 hours. It also has a long shelf-life and will not damage cured concrete. This formula contains a liquid that instantly melts ice to break the surface tension so that the crystal core can penetrate the ice and speed up melting. It also attracts heat and uses energy from the sun to work even more effectively.
Most importantly, the pellets will not harm your dog, cat or other animals that come into contact with it. It will not hurt their eyes, paws or skin and will not even harm them if it is ingested as it’s made with urea, one of the least harmful salts out there!
- Keeping Pets Safe during Winter: The Dangers of Ice Melts, The ASPCA
- Kate Hughes, Pet-Safe Ice Melts: Are They Really Safe?, PetMD
- CMA – Calcium Magnesium Acetate – Peters Chemical Company
- Pets, Kids, and Ice Melt Products – National Capitol Poison Center
Best Pet Friendly Ice Melt FAQ:
Pet safe ice melts do not contain chemicals that are highly toxic to animals if ingested. They also do not cause irritation to skin and paws if your pet walks or rolls on them. An added benefit is that the crystals of animal-safe ice melts are smooth and do not, therefore, cause small abrasions in your pet’s paws.
Some pet owners prefer to make their own ice melters using glycol which is a type of organic alcohol. Others have made their own product by mixing dish soap and rubbing alcohol with hot water. While you can certainly try doing this, it’s likely that you’ll find that homemade products are not as effective the commercial products.
Pet safe ice melts that do not contain chlorides are safest for the environment. Some pet safe ice melts do contain chlorides are these are not so environmentally friendly.
Chlorides get washed off paths and yards and surface water, ground water and soil. Here they affect the pH of waterways which can damage delicate ecosystems. The same is true for dyes and parabens.
Some ice melt products will damage concrete surfaces. Any chloride based salts will corrode concrete but some are more corrosive than others. For example, magnesium chloride is a little less corrosive that calcium chloride. All concrete is vulnerable to damage during the first year after it has been laid.
Pet safe ice melts that do not contain salts often contain calcium magnesium acetate. The advantage of calcium magnesium acetate is that it is no more corrosive or damaging to concrete than water. This makes it more pet safe because it is not so likely to irritate paw pads. Also, because it has an aroma like vinegar pets are not very interested in licking it!