This first post on the brand new K9 Cardio blog, was inspired by a recent Facebook post from a local vet highlighting how dangerous gritted roads and streets can be for dogs.

Road gritters are literally life savers. When temperatures plummet, they go out in force and spread grit over our roads and streets to make them safer to navigate for motorists and pedestrians.

Safer for you and I, but did you know, gritted roads and streets become much more dangerous for dogs?

The grit used to treat our roads is a mixture of coarse rock salt and err… grit. Rock salt (sodium chloride) is toxic to dogs (and cats for that matter). They walk in the grit, it gets between their paws, causes irritation, so they lick their paws to clean them. This leads to ingestion of the salt which can make them very ill indeed. In fact, a quick Google search reveals it can in many cases be fatal.

It seems obvious to me that  if a dog is licking salt from their paws day after day, during cold weather, this could easily result in high levels of sodium in their blood. The thing is, it’s not just high levels of sodium that are dangerous to dogs…

The RSPCA state –

It is difficult to say how much needs to be eaten for signs of toxicity to be seen. Even a small amount of pure salt can be very dangerous to pets. Ingestion can result in a high blood sodium concentration which can cause thirst, vomiting and lethargy, and in severe cases there is a risk of convulsions and kidney damage.”

The RSPCA recommends that if you are concerned your dog may have ingested salt, you should contact your vet immediately so that your vet can carry out a blood test to check the sodium/blood concentration. Treatment will vary in response to the blood sodium concentration, the dog’s condition and any other symptoms.

You can read the RSPCA fact sheet on rock salt poisoning here.

Rock Salt Poisoning Is Easily Avoidable

If you walk your dog on or through areas which may have been gritted, on return home, simply rinse off and dry your dog’s paws with some water. This is an effortless routine if you have an outside tap/hose (which is not frozen!). Alternatively, a large jug of water or two should do the trick

At K9 Cardio, when I walk dogs during the winter, I will always wash off and towel dogs (we’re not talking grooming level washing here), with a special attention on rinsing the paws. If you use a dog walking service in your area, I highly recommend you check whether your dog walker is doing the same. If they do not at least rinse paws, I would request they do so, as this will greatly reduce the chances of your dog becoming ill by ingesting rock salt from licking their paws.