Hundreds of dogs and cats die from rock salt scattered by gritters in big
freeze (from www.dailymail.co.uk)
By Andrew Levy
Last updated at 4:18 PM on 23rd December 2010
Hundreds of pets are becoming seriously ill and in some cases dying because
of the rock salt and antifreeze being used during the cold snap, animal
charities warned yesterday.
Dogs and cats are walking through the substances left by gritters trying to
clear roads and car drivers defrosting their windscreens and then licking them
off their paws.
Consuming rock salt can cause dehydration, liver failure and pancreatitis,
while antifreeze contains the chemical ethylene glycol, which can be lethal when
London last week. Dogs and cats are walking through the substances left by
gritters trying to clear roads and then licking them off their paws
The RSPCA said it has received 248 calls about cases involving cats and dogs
between January 1 and mid-November this year, compared to 259 for the whole of
It expects this year’s total to be ‘considerably higher’ once figures for the
current freeze are taken into account – and added these would represent the ‘tip
of the iceberg’ as only a fraction of cases are brought to its
Victims include Amanda Walsh, 31, whose four-year-old grey tabby Bubbles died
last week from anti-freeze poisoning, the third in her neighbourhood in a matter
‘She went missing last Tuesday and a neighbour said a cat similar to mine had
been found the following afternoon,’ said Mrs Walsh, a dinner lady from West
Earlham, near Norwich.
‘I went round to the people who found it and showed them a photo and they
said straight away it was her. They’d found her lying down in their garden. She
couldn’t move and was mewling in pain.
‘They wrapped her up and took her to the vet’s. Originally they thought she’d
been hit by a car but further investigation proved it to be antifreeze
‘I have two daughters and they’re devastated. I just want people to be aware
that this can happen. They should keep their pets indoors for the time being, if
they can, and, if they do go out, try and wash their paws when they come
rock salt in grit can cause dehydration, liver failure and pancreatitis in
Animal nutrition counsellor Ruth Hayward-Smith said a young dog that attended
an obedience and agility class she runs had died after licking rock salt off her
Ruby, a five-month-old Lhasa Apso, fell ill on Sunday evening and had to be
put down the following morning.
‘When she got home she obviously groomed herself and she started salivating
excessively. Her owners rushed her to the vet where she was observed and allowed
home the following day,’ said Mrs Hayward-Smith, who runs her classes in Bracon
‘But they were so concerned they took her to another vet who put her to sleep
straight away. She had gone into kidney failure.’
Animal charities said the public should take extra care when using
anti-freeze and mop up any spillages. Pet owners were also advised to clean
animals’ paws if they have been outside and even clip the fur to keep it
consuming rock salt include burns to the mouth and throat and excessive
salivating and drinking
The symptoms of ingesting anti-freeze include vomiting, seizures, appearing
sleepy and a heightened breathing rate.
Symptoms of consuming rock salt – which contains the same ingredient as table
salt, sodium chloride, but also has harmful chemicals such as magnesium -
include burns to the mouth and throat and excessive salivating and
An RSPCA spokeswoman said: ‘Owners should contact a vet immediately if they
suspect that their pet may have been in contact with these substances or if they
see any warning signs or symptoms.
‘The sooner they are treated, the better their chances of surviving.’