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Have you ever opened up your freezer to get some ice for your drink, just to hear your dog bounding over in the hopes of snagging one of these frozen goodies? Many dogs like ice, but why? And are ice cubes bad for dogs? We detail that here.
There are two main reasons why dogs like ice cubes. For starters, ice is a cold treat that provides a little hydration. When dogs are too hot, they use several physical mechanisms to lower body temperature (such as sweating through their paw pads and panting). They also instinctively know when they need to lower their body temperature and will often move to the shade or drink water - or eat ice cubes. Ice is a relatively quick way for your dog to cool down and hydrate.
Another reason dogs like ice cubes is because they are crunchy and dogs like to chew on things. But a dog's enjoyment doesn't stop at the mere act of chewing. Because a dog's auditory senses are so acute, the sound of scraping and crunching adds to the experience. Ice cubes are very crunchy, making them all the more exciting.
In general, ice cubes are not bad for dogs. Water is an essential part of your dog's life and it can be consumed in liquid or solid form. Ice cubes are actually a good way to keep your dog hydrated and avoid overheating. And placing ice cubes in your dog's water bowl may slow down how fast he or she drinks, which could help prevent bloat. In addition, many vets recommend using ice cubes to slowly introduce water to dogs recovering from surgery or episodes of vomiting.
So there are ways for your dog to safely enjoy ice cubes. That being said, ice cubes can cause harm in some situations. We detail some of the risks of feeding your dog ice cubes below.
Although ice cubes can help prevent bloat, this is only true if it slows down the speed at which your dog drinks. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a dog's stomach twists. It often occurs when a dog ingests large amounts of water or food while inhaling a lot of air. So there's a higher risk of bloat if ice cubes actually cause your dog to drink more water, more quickly. In addition, larger dogs with deep chests (such as Poodles, German Shepherds, Great Danes, etc.) are at a higher risk for bloat because there is more room for the stomach to twist.
Pro Tip: Always let your dog cool down before giving them food or water. If your dog is extra thirsty, give smaller doses of water more frequently to help avoid ingesting too much water and air at once.
One of the most common issues with ice cubes is that it can chip or break teeth. This is even more an issue for little dogs with smaller jaws (such as toy breeds), senior dogs and those with dental disease. In general, the larger and harder the ice cube, the greater chance of tooth breakage. Frequent chewing on anything hard can also wear down tooth enamel.
Pro Tip: To avoid tooth chipping or breaking, try giving your dog small ice cubes, crushed ice or ice shavings. You can also try giving ice cubes in moderation.
Though uncommon, there is a chance your dog could choke on a large ice cube. This would occur if the cube get stuck in your dog's airway before melting. Giving your dog small ice cubes or ice shavings will help avoid potential choking. Dogs with dental disease or missing teeth, difficulty swallowing, respiratory diseases or neurological diseases could be more prone to choking because they may have trouble chewing the ice.
It's not a good idea to let your dog eat ice that he or she found outside. This is because it can be contaminated with toxins that can harm your dog. These could include antifreeze, cleaning products, salt for ice and snow removal, pesticides and weed killer. If your dog ingests outdoor ice and exhibits unusual behavior or appears sick, call your vet immediately.
It's not safe to use ice cubes if your dog is overheated or experiencing heat stroke. This is because dogs need to be cooled down slowly to prevent shock or organ failure. Instead, wet your dog using room temperature water, focusing on their back and underside. After doing that, you can mist them with room temperature water. Just don't spray, splash or soak your dog. Don't use ice water because that will close the capillaries in the skin, preventing your dog from cooling off their internal organs. You can also use a fan or air conditioning or have your dog to lay on a cool surface. Your dog's normal body temperature should be around 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Call your vet immediately if your dog is still overheating after these steps.
Prevention is the best cure for overheating and heat stroke. Limit excessive exercise when it's hot and look for these signs: