Dog paws alert? Is there a new type, "more acidic" de-icing salt in use by NYC?

Twice today my pup pulled up lame on the snow/ice on the curb. I’ve only seen hi do that once, a few years ago, on an ice field we had been standing on for 45 min, and today it was just walking and waiting for a bus.

Neighbor said “she heard something” about new “acidic” de-salting ice being laid down.

Anyone know anything about that?

De-salting ice is acidic??

I’m not sure about actual de-icing chemicals; in this area, people tend to stick to rock salt or calcium chloride (tiny white pellets) for keeping walkways free of ice. I’ve always been told that calcium chloride can make a dog’s paws burn; also, its MSDS lists it as an irritant. That’s not an acidic reaction though.

Many agencies are now using a mixture of salt and beet juice (yes, the vegetable) on roads to melt the snow. Beet juice is acidic.

I found articles saying that New York State officials are using it, but none that specifically mention New York City. But I do know that mixing beet juice in with salt has become widely accepted.

How cold is it where you are? My pups don’t last much more than 5 or 10 minutes when it’s below about 5 degrees out, regardless of what’s on the ground (I know there’s nothing, because most of the time we’re in my front yard).

The time frame seems to be getting shorter the older they get. With this freezing weather we’ve been having, it’s been a real treat trying to get them to stay out long enough to do their business before their feet freeze.

Most nights I walk my dogs around the neighbourhood and at least one of them, if not all of them at some point do the three legged saddest dog in the world thing. Sometimes just a quick rub of their toes makes it all better, sometimes I just keep them moving. Not sure what combination of cold, snow, salt, moisture or tiny cracks in their pads cause this, but I do try to keep them off the salted areas as much as possible on our walks because I feel so bad for them.

I imagine it feels much the same as it does for me when I have those painful cracks at the edges of my fingertips and squeeze some lemon into my tea. Stings like crazy, but doesn’t last.

Regular salt makes my Bichon do the three-legged hop. So if there is salt out, I put Pawz on him.

So everything is going to be stained dark purple? :eek::dubious:

De-icing salt has always been damaging to doggy feet. In place where it is often snowy and sidewalks are regularly salted, booties are the norm. Lately, it’s rare that in NYC, the salt is continuously present for many days. That’s the only reason you haven’t had a problem before this.

Good question. Here is an interesting article about the experiences of a township in Pennsylvania that started using the beet juice. It goes into some non-technical details.

At the end of the article it says:

They put molasses in the road grit over here. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/wiltshire/hi/people_and_places/newsid_9185000/9185244.stm

P.S. Salt is neither an acid nor a base – a salt is what you get from combining an acid with a base, and is generally pH neutral.

FWIW, someone just told me that the same unusual frequency of paw owies/stops is going on with his pup.

From NY Landmarks:
There are four primary deicing salts for ice and snow removal:

Sodium chloride also known as rock salt, is the most common deicing salt. Rock salt releases the highest amount of chloride when it dissolves. Chloride can damage concrete and metal. It also can pollute streams, rivers and lakes. It should be avoided.

Calcium chloride is another deicing salt. It comes in the form of rounded white pellets. It can cause skin irritation if your hands are moist when handling it. Concentrations of calcium chloride can chemically attack concrete.

Potassium chloride is not a skin irritant and does not harm vegetation. It only melts ice when the air temperature is above 15 F. but when combined with other chemicals it can melt ice at lower temperatures. It is a good choice.

Magnesium chloride is the newest deicing salt. It continues to melt snow and ice until the temperature reaches -13 F. The salt releases 40% less chloride into the environment that either rock salt or calcium chloride. It is far less damaging to concrete and plants. It is the best choice.

In Wisconsin they add cheeseto de-icing salt. How much acid is there in cheese? Depends, I guess.

Sure. That would be completely expected because the frequency of the snow & cold has been higher.

There’s no hidden secret. One day of walking on salted streets doesn’t make owies. 7 days do. It’s been at least 7-10 years since we had enough snow and cold that the sidewalks were salted over multiple days.