By Linda Cole
I often see Facebook posts about the dangers of giving ice cubes to dogs. The posts advise people not to let their dog eat ice cubes because this frozen “treat” isn’t safe and can cause bloating. This is an urban legend; however, there are some things you need to know about giving your dog ice cubes to munch on or putting ice in his water bowl.
A hot and thirsty dog is likely to gulp water whether there are ice cubes in his water bowl or not. Giving your dog some ice cubes to eat or in his water won’t harm him. Allowing him to drink or eat too fast is the risk factor for bloat – not the ice. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can occur if a dog eats or drinks too fast, which can cause him to swallow a lot of air along with the food or water.
When a dog suffers from bloat, his stomach twists which traps food, air and gas. It can cut off the blood supply to the stomach and other organs. Left untreated, bloat can cause a dog to go into shock and experience organ failure. Deep chested, large breed dogs like Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Standard Poodles and Saint Bernards are more at risk of developing bloat than smaller breeds, because they have enough room for the stomach to become twisted.
How to Give Your Dog Ice
The biggest risk to giving your dog ice to eat, besides having a frozen cube stick to his tongue, is the possibility of chipping or breaking a tooth, especially if your pet is an aggressive chewer or a small dog. There can also be a potential choking risk if a dog decides to swallow an entire ice cube. Thankfully, the ice will probably melt before it becomes a choking hazard, or your dog will cough it back up. To help prevent both issues, simply crush up the ice, give shaved ice or make ice chips before giving it to your dog. A word of caution: never give a young puppy ice cubes to munch on or even in his water bowl. A puppy’s system isn’t ready to handle the concentrated coldness of the ice. For those times when you want to give your pup something special to eat, CANIDAE dog treats are a great option.
Add Ice Cubes to Encourage Your Dog to Drink
One of my dogs’ favorite wintertime activities is searching for and finding frozen “pupsicles” in the snow. Many dogs enjoy eating ice cubes, and adding some to your dog’s water bowl can encourage him to drink more on a hot day or after exercising, which will help him to stay hydrated. Giving your pet ice to eat or ice water also helps reduce their body temperature, avoiding overheating. Sitting back with cold drink on a hot day helps you feel refreshed, and dogs also enjoy a cold drink. Use common sense though, and limit the number of ice cubes you give your dog, and always supervise him. To make sure your pet can tolerate eating ice cubes, give him some crushed or shaved ice first to determine if he can handle the coldness. Just like us, dogs can experience brain freeze if they consume a lot of ice too quickly.
When Not to Give Your Dog Ice
Heatstroke is a real emergency that needs immediate attention. Never give your dog ice if you suspect he’s dealing with heatstroke or severe overheating. A dog suffering from heatstroke needs to be cooled down slowly to avoid constricting the blood vessels, which can actually increase his body temperature. Use wet towels to help your pet cool down and get him into an air-conditioned place or in front of a fan if he’s overheating. Get him to your vet ASAP if he is experiencing heatstroke or is unconscious. Actually, even if you get your dog cooled down at home, it’s a good idea to have him checked out by a vet to make sure there isn’t any internal damage. Symptoms of heatstroke include very red gums, vomiting, heavy panting, staggering, dizziness, confusion, difficulty breathing, dry hot skin, and thick saliva.
Some dogs have a negative reaction to ice and vomit afterwards, and some dogs who get ice cubes too often may start to expect them all the time. Just use moderation when giving ice to your dog, or save this special treat for warm days when an icy cold drink is most welcome.
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