Archives for January 2009

Pet Safe Ice Melt

Pet safe ice melt is a specialty product that addresses some of the worst winter hazards pets face. Did you know that snow and ice melt products remain among the most hazardous winter dangers to pets?

Ice melts might be encountered on walks during the winter months.

Risks to pets can come from product that has spilled out of bags, that is applied to sidewalks or streets, or that has been improperly stored.

Dry, sore, and cracked paw pads are one problem but the ingestion of such products is a bigger danger.

When a pet walks or rolls over surfaces that have been treated with ice melt products it can collect onto the bottom of their paws and then is ingested when the pet licks those areas.

So, the first thing to do is be aware that when you return with you pet after outside winter activities and take steps to wash your pet’s paws and legs–and if you pet rolled in suspect areas it might be a good idea to bathe him or her.

The most common signs of ingestion of non-friendly ice melt products are vomiting, diarrhea, excess salivation, lethargy, loss of appetite, disorientation, increased drinking, seizures, and even death.

There are many types of de-icing products available but most common contain these hazardous ingredients:

  • Sodium Chloride
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Calcium Carbonate and Calcium Magnesium Acetate
  • Urea

Sodium Chloride
Ingesting large amounts of sodium levels can be lethal in dogs leading to sodium toxicity which comes up quickly and is mainly neurological. Most common symptoms include increased urination and digestive upset. These can lead to dehydration and increased risk to the animal.

Potassium Chloride
Ingestion of potassium chloride can cause bowel strictures and ulcerations. Symptoms include muscle weakness, gastrointestinal upset and cardiac function issues.

Magnesium Chloride
Elevated magnesium can drop the blood pressure drastically and cause cardiac abnormalities, weakness, and neurological issues.

Calcium Carbonate and Calcium Magnesium Acetate
These products cause vomiting and eye irritation.

Urea is a bio-degradable chemical that is most commonly used in fertilizers. Ingestion usually triggers hyper salivation, gastrointestinal upsets, and abdominal pain.

Inducing vomiting is controversial and not a good idea with many of these ingredients and activated charcoal does not absorb the salts in ice melts.

Sand or clay cat litter are safer options to use instead of ice melts but new pet friendly ice melts are now also on the market.

Users report good success with most of these products except for complaints about the “snow cone” color of the granules in some of the products.

In my area the roads are not salted but cindered (volcanic cinders) instead–so the issues arise in areas where people are using salt on private or business property.

Below are some of the most popular products (just click on the image or link).

Paw Thaw and the Petco proprietary brands are two other products on the market but not highlighted here.

pet safe ice melt

Safe Paw Ice Melter

animal friendly ice melt

Safe Paw Ice Melter (35 Lbs)

pet safe ice melt

Ice Melt (8 lbs)

Ice Melt (28 lbs)

animal friendly ice melt

Howard Johnson’s Petguard Icemelt (20 lbs)

pet friendly ice melt

Earth Friendly Products Ice Melt (6.5 lbs Pack of 4)

Finally, if you suspect that you pet has ingested a de-icing snow melt product get your animal to the veterinarian immediately and keep the animal poison hotline number on your fridge and in your cell phone.

Many people are not aware that in the summer of 1996, the ASPCA acquired the National Animal Poison Control from the University of Illinois.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center remains an Allied Agency of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and you can reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

I’d be interested in what your preferences are for pet safe ice melters–if you have used these products. Drop me a line in the comments and let me know.

Eco Friendly Pet Beds

The Environment, and global warming in particular, are important topics these days and as a result there’s an awful lot of talk out there about measuring your “carbon footprint”.

Many dog owners have been concerned about their pet’s “Carbon Paw Print” as well, and are looking for ways to raise their pet in an environmentally-conscious fashion.

The good thing is, in the past few years, we’ve seen many emerging pet product manufacturers take a more earth-friendly approach by using recycled and organic materials.

But while it is common to find eco friendly dog toys and cat scratchers, deciding on the right bed can be a bit trickier.

So, what makes a pet bed eco friendly? We’re going to tackle five common questions that a prospective pooch bed buyer might have:

Does it have Synthetic or Natural Fibers?

Earth friendly dog beds are being made today with natural fibers (such as cotton and hemp) as well as synthetic fibers (like polyester and nylon) so a lot of it actually depends on consumer preference.

Beds made with Natural Fibers, particularly ones that are certified Organic, are the most environmentally conscious during the production process by utilizing nontoxic dyes and hypoallergenic, chemical-free materials.

However, beds with Synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon, tend to last longer. In addition to being more cost effective, this also eliminates the increase in trash and consumption created by throwing out the old bed and buying a replacement.

Is the Bed Machine Washable?

Nearly all “green” pet beds have a washable exterior and some allow you to wash the interior filling separately.

Not only does this make the bed easier to clean but it also prolongs the life of the bed as well.

While many non-washable beds have to be thrown out and replaced due to odor and durability issues, machine washable beds usually last the life of the pet.

What Type of Material is the Cover Made of?

Nylon and Polyester fleeces remain the most common types of synthetic covers because they are durable and easy to maintain.

But lately manufacturers have been coming out with materials (such as Dog Gone Smart Bed’s Nanosphere finish) that have been more stain resistant while maintaining strict environment and pet safety standards.

The most popular type of natural fiber for eco-friendly pet beds is cotton, due to its breathability and easy maintenance, although hemp covers have recently become more popular due to its durability.

What Type of Interior should I be Looking for?

Many manufacturers have recently begun using recycled polyester materials for the cushioning of their pet beds.

The most common way of doing so involves an innovative process that melts and reforms post consumer plastic materials (think recycled bottles) into polyester fibers, which creates a durable cushion while at the same time helping in cutting down on landfill waste.

The only disadvantage is that the process of converting plastic into polyester can be labor intensive.

More recently, some companies, most notably Big Shrimpy, have been incorporating recycled pre-consumer polyester materials into their bed filling, a process which uses less energy than other recycling methods.

It should be noted that beds made with recycled polyester materials tend to be more firm, so if you think your pet needs a plusher bed it would be best to look at a bed that incorporates an organic natural fill rather than recycled material.

Does it have any Certifications? And What Kind of Certifications Should I be Looking for Anyway?

Many pet beds have recently begun adhering to Organic standards, particularly ones that use natural materials.

In order to be certified organic, a pet bed manufacturer has to use cotton or any other natural material that is grown without the use of pesticides and are not genetically modified.

Harry Barker and West Paw are two popular dog bed companies that adhere to Organic guidelines for their products.

Beds using synthetic fibers cannot be rated as Organic, but they do have their own standards in place to ensure that they are safe and earth-friendly.

One of the most rigorous independent standards is run by Bluesign Technologies.

In order to be verified by Bluesign, the materials and chemicals to be used in the bed are put under strict testing for safety and environmental impact. (Dog Gone Smart Bed’s Nanosphere covers are Bluesign verified.)

Eco Friendly pet beds will continue to remain popular despite the fact that they are more expensive then other types of beds not only because consumers are becoming more environmentally aware but also because many earth friendly dog beds are of a better quality and are longer lasting, which can help save money as well as the environment.

About the Author: Emily Curtis is a pet product specialist for AllPetFurniture, a part of CSN Stores. With a BA in English from Colby College, Emily currently resides in Brookline, Massachusetts with her pet spaniel Porkchop and Henry, a five-year old Siamese cat.