ROCK SALT POISONING IN PETS
What is Rock salt?
Rock salt is a mixture of salt (sodium chloride) and grit, and is used to help de-ice roads
in winter. Rock salt can be a danger to pets such as dogs and cats, if they lick it from their
paws or fur.
How much is dangerous to my pet?
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.
Why is rock salt dangerous to my pet and what could happen?
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.
How could my pet ingest rock salt and how can I prevent it happening?
Most cases involve animals that have walked through gritted snow and then lick or chew it off their
paws as they can find it irritating. It is therefore important to thoroughly wipe your pet’s feet and the
fur on his/her legs and tummy after a walk or time outside.
I suspect my pet has digested rock salt, what should I do?
If he/she is showing any signs of discomfort after possible exposure to rock salt, use a mild, pet-safe shampoo and warm water to wash the affected areas, and dry your pet’s fur completely with a towel after washing. Any animal suspected of ingestion of rock salt must be assessed by a vet immediately. This is important as signs can be non-specific and a blood test will be required to check the blood sodium concentration. Immediate veterinary treatment will be needed to rehydrate the animal and stabilise their sodium levels. The exact treatment will depend on the blood sodium concentration and the animal’s clinical condition. Owners should never attempt to induce vomiting;
only a vet should do this.