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FACT or FICTION: Can Ice Harm Your Dog? The Truth Behind The Viral Story

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Many of you may have been alarmed by the recent blogs and articles that have been circulating the web, as things that are alarming often do, that warns you to NEVER give your dog ice or ice water as it may cause serious injury even death. There are various accounts of the article, with different dogs and different outcomes, but the story is fairly similar with most of them saying their vet told them that dogs should NEVER have ice.

When I came across this, it struck me as odd, considering most of us have given our dogs an ice cube or two throughout their lives, and of course, during the winter we have all see our dogs eat/drink snow as well as freezing water from an icy bucket without any harm done.

Another version claims that ice water can cause bloat in dogs:

So, I went to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and received answers to my questions from Medical Director Dr. Tina Wismer.

Considering how often we have all shared ice cream, ice, popsicles, etc, with our dogs, we figured this must be a false rumor

Can Giving your Dog Ice Cause Bloat as the Story Implies?

This is not true. Dogs DO NOT BLOAT from drinking ice water on hot days.  Bloat can be from food or from a buildup of gas. Either can cause the stomach to rotate and the dog to develop GDV (gastric dilatation volvulus).Bloat is most commonly seen in deep-chested large-breed dogs.

Factors that increase the risk of bloat include:

  • Feeding only one meal a day
  • Familial history of bloat
  • Rapid eating
  • Thin
  • Moistening dry food
  • Elevated feeders
  • Restricting water before and after a meal
  • Dry diet with animal fat in first four ingredients
  • Age (older dogs).

As you can see there are many things associated with bloat, but not one known cause.

What about feeding other “Frozen” items such as treats?

Many dogs love ice cubes.  They can be given as treats or put in the water bowl.  Some behaviorists even recommend freezing toys or treats in ice for dogs to chew on.  The biggest risk with ice is that aggressive chewers could break teeth.

Frozen treats like ‘dog ice cream’ and yogurt have a softer texture (ice crystals are separated by fat).  They have a much lower risk of causing dental damage.

Treating Heatstroke With Ice

Now that we have debunked the myth about ice, you may starting thinking great, I will pump my dog full of ice if he gets overheated, and save myself a trip to the vet’s. This would be a dangerous thing to do, however.

Dr. Wismer also mentioned that owners need to use common sense and make sure they are not trying to treat heatstroke with ice water. “If you think your dog has heatstroke you should get it to the veterinarian immediately.  Do not waste time trying to get the dog to drink,” she adds.

In addition, use sense when it comes to things like a pool full ice. You wouldn’t want to go from 90 degree heat to an ice bath, and neither does your dog.

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