The Hidden Danger of Melting Snow

How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Melting snow can put you and your dog at risk of electrical shock

As snow melts the water it produces can leave areas of sidewalk vulnerable to what is known as contact voltage. 

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Inches of snow during Chicago's snowiest winter

Lowest recorded Temperature in Illinois

What is contact voltage?

When snow melts, it turns into water. If that water mixes with other things commonly found outside during winter, such as ice melt or anti-freeze, it can conduct electricity. So if that mixture of water and chemicals touches something with electricity, say streetlight poles, the watery slush could become electrically charge, zapping anything walking through it.

How can I keep my dog and myself safe?

Make sure to keep an eye out when you’re out walking your dog. Avoid any water you see coming in contact with things such as manhole covers, streetlight poles, traffic signals, or anything with running electricity. Another option to help protect your dog is to get them some boots to wear! The AKC has an article about the top 6 boots for dogs. Getting boots also had the advantage that it will protect your dog’s feet from ice melt, a topic we discussed in this blog post.

What do I do if I suspect my dog does get shocked?

Your gut will tell you to grab your dog and pull them out of the water, DO NOT grab your dog or step into the area yourself. If you grab them you run the risk of having the electrical current jump to you and shock you as well. Use a non-metal leash to guide your dog to a safe spot.

It is recommended that you take your dog to their veterinarian as soon as possible to make sure the electricity doesn’t do any lasting damage. You should also call your local public utility agency and let them know about the electrical current so they can make sure it doesn’t do any more harm.

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