paw safe ice melt

How to Make Paw Safe Ice Melt

In Animal Health, cat first aid, Cats, Dog CPR, dog daycare owner, dog walker, Dogs, pet care professional, Pet First Aid, Pet Industry, Pet Safety, Uncategorized, Winter and Pets by Cara Armour23 Comments

Winter Ice and My Pets’ Paws

Don’t let the slick slippery step assailant coating our walkways and driveways harm you or your pets’ paws with harsh chemicals. There is a way to rid of the treacherous ice without causing harm to your pets, your walkway or your wallet.

Most of us know that the road salt and other chemicals used to melt ice and snow are caustic to our pet’s paws and toxic if ingested when they groom themselves or lick their feet. I rush out every year to stock up on paw safe ice melt but it seems to go up every year in price too. I have heard about a cheaper alternative so I decided to give it a try.

Dish Soap, Rubbing Alcohol and Hot Water

That’s all you need and boy is it cheaper than the pet safe de-icer. I was spending a good amount even on the 40lb pail but it just goes so quickly, especially with my long brick pathway. So I followed the instructions, used a watering can with a rosette nozzle (like a spring rain) and the ice literally washed away.

Here is what I did:

I mixed

  • 1 tsp. of Dawn dish soap*
  • 1 tbsp. of rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 gallon of hot water

* It has been noted that other brands do not work as effectively 

It did take a few refills, my path is large and the mixture pooled for a bit on thickly covered areas, which eventually did turn to puddles. I did also use some coarse kosher salt on the persistently thick areas to help make the ice have some traction and break it down a little faster. Just about 1/4 of a cup and only on the thick areas, the salt alone can dry out paws and while it’s safe for them to lick, it still can be very drying on their feet.

The Benefits of Homemade Ice Melt

A couple of benefits I have noted since doing this is not only was it a fix for the ice that had already formed – it prevented more coming back. I noticed that the areas I treated where much easier to shovel off freshly fallen snow because it had started to melt a bit. Also, no more sweeping up or wiping up the greenish blue pellets that tracked into the house with all our feet.

All in all, I will be using this as an alternative. It’s safe for my pets’ paws and I’ll keep you posted on what my nearby plants think in the spring. My chickens certainly do not seem to mind walking around on the treated path.

It was slightly more laborious than buying the pet safe ice melt, especially if you get it delivered but my wallet is happy with my choice.

Booties and Balm

For our longer walks or those on the roads, I do go ahead with booties. They take some getting used to for your dog but I no longer have cracked bleeding paws and the wet paw prints running through my house are reduced as well.

dog in winter coat and boots

For the pads that are already starting to crack, try some bag balm, it’s worked wonders for my guys and is safe if licked.

For your final safety measure, be sure you know how to recognize when things might be off. Winter can be a tricky time for our pets. Limps could be cracked pads, the onslaught of Lyme disease or the beginnings of arthritis. Having taken pet first aid and CPR training you will know more readily how to recognize when something isn’t right with your pet and will be able to act in a more timely fashion for them – reducing their pain and discomfort.



  1. Thank you for sharing your DIY ice melting solution! We’ve been lucky in NC here so far and have only had one winter storm in early January – that one did result in icy roads and sidewalks. I’ll be sure to pin this!
    P.S. How cool that you have chickens, too!

    1. Author

      You are very welcome! My chickens are sort of cool, while they give us delightful gifts each day, they do also leave their droppings on our front door step! We haven’t figured out how to allow them to free-range without freely going to the bathroom by our front door 🙂

  2. I would expect some freezing of the solution after it is poured on existing ice , as a skeptic I will try this solution on my backyard driveway………I sure would love to find it is a workable way to melt the ice and protect our pets.

    1. Author

      Certainly depends on the temperature and I will admit that this happened on a set of stairs I have that are wood composite, I just added more alcohol and it held just fine.

    1. Author

      It sure does, I have used it on a wood ramp I have as well as my deck 🙂

    1. Author

      Great question! I have 70% in the house but I think any strength would work, the higher percentage the better given it’s much lower freezing temp

  3. I’d like to use this on our deck which leads to our back yard. However my dogs love to lick anything that resembles water off the deck. Would this mixture harm them ?

    1. Author

      as long as you stuck to dawn dish soap and didn’t let them lick it constantly I can say it shouldn’t harm them. Dawn is used on wildlife rescues when they are covered in oil, however, this may cause stomach upset so I am hesitant to recommend it if your dogs constantly lick the area. It is safe if they lick their feet but essentially drinking it, most likely not 🙁

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  5. Rubbing alcohol is toxic – I don’t see how this is “safe”. Is it just that the amount of alcohol is so small?

    1. Author

      Hi J,

      Great question and you are correct, rubbing alcohol is toxic but it is a) diluted in this mixture and b) evaporated from liquid form very shortly after melting the ice (where it is further diluted). I can assure you it is much safer than chemical ice melts that burn paws, cause licking and ingestion of very harmful chemicals.

  6. Is it still effective after the solution cools off? So if I make a gallon and save some to use tomorrow?

    1. Author

      It is but less so, the warm water speeds the melt up and the lower freezing point of the alcohol mixed with the soap helps keep it from refreezing.

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  8. Absolutely love the red booties on the pup in the photo! And isn’t Dawn Dish Soap one of the Wonder Products of the 20th century. As a cat and kitten rescue person, I’ve certainly bathed my share of rescues with Dawn.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Author

      It can cause some browning depending on the type and durability of your grass. Way less damaging than traditional chemical ice melts

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