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Rock salt warning for Norfolk pet owners

PUBLISHED: 09:17 23 December 2010

Pet owners are being warned about the dangers of rock salt and anti-freeze after cases of dogs and cats having to be put down from ingesting the poisonous ice treatments.

Although vets have said fatalities in animals which have eaten the toxic salt are very rare, it is important owners take precautions while out walking their dogs during the wintry weather when grit and rock salt are spread regularly on the pathways.

Trainer Ruth Hayward-Smith, who runs obedience and agility classes called Woofies in Bracon Ash Village Hall, said one of her dog owners was left “devastated” when they were forced to put their young dog down on Monday due to the effects of licking the salt off her paws.

“I had not really thought about it until now. It’s not something which has occurred to me, but it makes you wonder how many of these cases there are and how many pets have to be put down to sleep. There are many dangers to pets that people are not always aware of,” she said.

Vet Rob Walker, from the Companion Care surgery, in Sprowston, Norwich, said he had never had to put a dog to sleep but had treated pets with gastro problems due to the ingestion of too much salt. “People should be aware of it and we advise people when they get home from walking their dogs to wash their feet quite well and even up to their elbows on little dogs as they can be quite deep in it. They can also get little sores on their feet because of the salt,” he said.

Mr Walker said typical signs of salt poisoning included vomiting and diarrhoea, but dogs may also experience muscle tremors and even kidney failure in extreme circumstances.

Joe Walsh, of West Earlham, Norwich, is also urging people to 
use anti-freeze as sparingly as possible after his two-year-old 
cat Bubbles died after somehow ingesting the chemical.

He said two other cats in the nearby area had died from suspected anti-freeze poisoning.

“We have got three dogs and another cat – her brother – who I think is feeling a bit lonely but its the effect on the kids really. They’re only 12 and 14 and it’s their first experience of this kind of thing,” he said.

Veterinary pharmaceuticals company Norbrook has published a guide on how to keep dogs and cats safe during the winter months.

Advice includes ensuring unwell, very young or very old pets are not kept outside too long, avoiding letting pets loose near icy open water, regularly cleaning the feet of cats and dogs, checking for cats curled up under cars before starting car engines, being gentle with pets in the winter when the cold temperatures can make their joints stiff and tender, and making sure water bowls are not left to freeze over.


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