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Is Ice Bad for Dogs?

We know that ice is safe for human use and consumption, but what about animals?

There is considerable debate across the internet if ice is safe for dogs. A quick search will show people sharing their own negative experiences, as well as others that say ice for dogs is perfectly fine. It can be tough to form an opinion with so much conflicting information out there.

So, what do you believe? Well, there is no easy answer. There are potential pros and cons for almost anything, giving ice to dogs is no different. In this article we will take a close look at the common questions that are associated with ice and dogs so that you can make an informed decision for your best friend.

Does Ice Cause Bloating in Dogs?

A common theory is that ice can cause bloating in dogs, which can be a potentially life-threatening issue for them. Depending on the severity, dogs with bloating can die within a few hours if it isn’t treated. This is quite alarming, so we are going to go over a few signs of bloating, and then give thoughts on if it can be caused by ice.

Bloating is also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus. It starts by the stomach filling up with gas and twisting. The pressure from the gas can end up causing a few very serious problems.

Firstly, it puts a lot of pressure on the diaphragm which can cause breathing problems. Secondly, the pressure can cut off the return of blood flow to the heart. Thirdly, the high amount of pressure in the stomach can lead to tissue dying. The spleen can even twist and get damaged in the process.

Why Does Bloating Happen to Dogs in the First Place?

The reason why bloat happens in dogs in the first place is debated among experts, although some common theories are that it could be affected by diet, genetics, exercise and environment.

One reason that it occurs in dogs is their tendency to eat their food so quickly. Have you ever left your dog to eat their food and come back in a few minutes to find it all gone? This is not ideal, as when they eat so fast they take in a lot of air with the food. The excess air is ultimately what will contribute to bloating.

Some people think that certain breeds of dogs with big chests that are more prone to bloating. Breeds like Great Danes, Rottweilers, Greyhounds and Labradors are all known to be big eaters as well. The problem happens when they eat so fast that they take in a lot of excess air with their food or water. This excess air is what can contribute to bloating. In fact, it’s common for people to use ice cubes in their dog’s water to slow down the rate at which they drink. It’s especially important to monitor how much food and water your dog has after exercise, as this is when they will try and consume it the fastest.

What are the Signs of Bloating?

Every dog owner should be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of bloating. It could potentially save their life if you are able to recognize it and act fast.

The obvious visual effect would be a big puffy stomach. Your pet might also whimper or whine to try and let you know they are in pain. Panting and walking around aimlessly is another sign. If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to bring them to a vet right away.

So, can ice cause bloating in dogs? The answer is that bloating is not directly correlated with eating ice. We must say though, that if the ice causes your pet to drink more water at a faster rate, it can contribute to bloating. So, the ideal solution is to offer your dog small and frequent sips of water. This will help to stop them from having too much too fast.

Can Dogs Choke on Ice?

Now that you know about the bloating issues that can arise and how they correlate with ice, we will explore the question of dogs choking on ice cubes.

It doesn’t seem too common to have dogs choke on ice cubes if they are able to chew properly. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen though. If the canine has an issue with their teeth or some other mouth issue they might not be able to chew the ice as much as is needed. This can lead to choking, as they will try to swallow it when it’s too big. It’s safer to give smaller ice shavings to dogs for this reason, and if your pet has any chewing or teeth issues then it would be wise to avoid giving them ice altogether.

Another scenario is if a big cube sticks to your dog’s tongue. This can cause it to panic and inhale the ice cube, making it lodge in the throat. Therefore, it’s crucial to crush up the cubes thoroughly before giving it to them.

Can Ice Damage Dogs Teeth?

Tying in with the last question, people often wonder if ice can damage your dog’s teeth? The answer is yes it can and is common. This reinforces the fact that it’s better to give smaller ice shavings to dogs so that they don’t have to chew them as much.

The bigger cubes can require quite a bit of chewing to break down. This is especially true for smaller dogs or breeds that don’t have big jaws. Also, having multiple dogs can cause them to eat faster in fear of having their food stolen by their siblings. This makes them chew aggressively, a recipe for broken teeth and possible choking.

Can Ice Treat Heat Stroke in Dogs?

Common practice for people that want to cool off dogs is to drench them with ice water. This comes with a problem though. Ice water will close the capillaries of the skin which prevents the internal organs from cooling.

It’s also quite a shock to the system of your pooch when they go from a high temperature to a low one very quickly. It’s even possible for them to have organ failure from sudden cooling. Therefore, you should never put them in a pool with ice, it’s better to cool them down slowly. You can do this with a cool washcloth, then take them to the vet if they are showing signs of heat stroke.

Of course, you should always be monitoring your dog in hot weather to make sure that they are not getting too hot. Also make sure to never leave your dog inside a car unattended on a hot day. If there is someone in there with them make sure to have the windows rolled down or the air conditioning on.

If you see some of the signs of heat stroke such as; vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, depression and bright red tongue it’s important to get your pet to the vet immediately.

Feeding Ice to Sick Dogs

Some people like to use ice to treat their sick dogs. The theory behind this is that the cause of a lot of different dog related illnesses is dehydration. The ice might be easier for the dog to get down and will obviously help with the dehydration aspect.

However, there are so many factors involved in pet illness that simply giving some ice shavings isn’t really a viable solution. If you don’t know the cause of your dog’s sickness it’s best to leave it to the professionals and take them to the vet when they show symptoms.

The Verdict

So, is ice bad for dogs? No, if it’s used properly and in moderation. Giving some ice shavings to your pooch occasionally on a hot day is not going to cause any harm if you consider all the potential dangers that we’ve outlined in this article.

The problems associated with ice come from a few issues. One is when they are given big cubes. This can damage their teeth from chewing, as well as pose as a potential choking hazard. Another is when they are given a large quantity all at once. This increases the risk of bloating if they eat of ice and it goes down with lots of air. It’s important to note that ice on its own does not cause bloating in dogs. It’s the large quantity of air swallowed that causes it.

So, in summary, limit the amount of ice, as well as the size of the ice shavings that you give to your dog. Also, don’t use large quantities of ice to cool them down on hot days as the shock to their system is too great.

About the Author:

Annie Moore is a long-time dog owner that is dedicated to sharing her experiences with other people to help them and their pets have the best life possible. When she’s not working on her site, she’s out walking her four dogs with her husband and two kids.