Can I Give My Dog Ice?
In the summer months, those of us who live in hotter parts of the country often sustain ourselves during June through August in two ways: first, we only spend extended periods in air-conditioned locations, and second, we eat ice cubes like popcorn. Whether you prefer your ice cubed, crushed, or frozen in fish-shaped ice cube trays, you have learned that it makes a surprisingly enjoyable snack when heat stroke is a very real threat. Ice cubes may be sugar-free, but when it’s hot, they can be just as delicious as a bar of chocolate. Eating ice is one of the safest ways to keep ourselves cool and hydrated—after all, even people struggling with kidney failure eat ice chips. Ice seems harmless.
If you are a pet parent surfing the Internet, however, you have probably heard some pretty scary things about ice.
The web is full of horror stories of dogs who suffered from fatal cases of bloat after consuming ice or ice water. Many people who share their homes with canines only give their furry friends room temperature water for fear of causing bloat, but what’s the science behind these claims? Will ice cubes really kill your dog? Can dogs have ice?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat ice—assuming the ice in question is made by freezing pure, clean water, there is nothing innately dangerous about feeding it to your pet. If the water you used to make the ice is clean and nontoxic, there is no reason why freezing it would make it dangerous. Giving your dog ice cubes can actually be an excellent way to let them enjoy a cool treat on a hot day. Since ice is just water, it does not have any calories or sugar, which means that your dog will not end up gaining weight by chomping on one too many ice cubes. Because dogs love to crunch on ice, it can also be a good way to keep them hydrated if they are reluctant to drink liquid water.
Ice cubes can come in handy for pet parents when the weather is hot. If your dog is physically active, the proud owner of a thick fur coat, or just plain old hot and thirsty, ice cubes are a great way to help them hydrate and lower their core temperature relatively quickly. After taking your dog for a walk on a summer morning, you probably reach for a cold bottle of water as soon as you get home. There is no reason your dog should not get to enjoy the same refreshing experience! If poor Fido is panting and uncomfortable, drop a few ice cubes in their water dish. They will thank you.
The biggest fear people have associated with feeding dogs ice is that it will cause them to develop bloat. Otherwise known as gastric dilation volvulus, this potentially fatal condition occurs when your dog’s stomach fills up quickly and then flips over, rotating out of position within their abdomen. As a result, blood starts to pool in the rear and the hind legs, causing shock and eventual organ failure. Dogs who are experiencing bloat develop symptoms like severe abdominal pain, excessive drooling, anxiety, and a distended abdomen.
This idea is, understandably, terrifying—bloat kills nearly a third of all the dogs who suffer from it, even if they seek treatment. However, ice cubes do not increase your dog’s chances of developing bloat. The temperature of your pup’s food is not going to cause their stomach to twist.
Things to Consider
Actual causes of bloat have more to do with genetics and eating habits. Large dogs with narrow chests, like Great Danes, are much more likely to suffer from bloat. In addition, dogs who scarf down their food quickly seem to develop bloat more frequently. According to the AKC, dogs who eat one meal every day are twice as likely to suffer from this condition as dogs who eat twice a day. Stress and anxiety are other risk factors.
Contrary to popular belief, ice cubes may actually be a useful tool to help PREVENT bloat. If your dog is thirsty, you may want to give them a couple ice cubes to help satisfy some of their thirst before setting down their water dish—this can help them feel less parched, so they will be less likely to gulp down the water too quickly. Alternatively, you can drop ice cubes into their bowl to lower the temperature of the water, which may make them less inclined to take greedy drinks.
Though the Internet is full of scary stories about the dangers of ice, they are, in fact, myths. Ice cubes will not cause your dog’s stomach to twist, and, in fact, may be helpful in slowing down your dog’s drinking, which can decrease their risk of bloat. If it’s hot and your pup needs a way to cool down, feel free to give them ice cubes!