It may seem like a silly question, but there is a lot of misinformation out there about dogs eating ice. Is it bad for them? What about icy weather or conditions? We at Doggy Brace are here to find out.
The short of it is that no, ice isn’t particularly dangerous on its own. However, there are some risks associated with eating and drinking it, which we go over below.
Is Ice Dangerous for Dogs?
Drinking and Eating Ice
There is a giant myth going around that eating ice is bad for dogs. This myth was born from a 2010 blog, where the owner claimed her pup’s ice water led to the dog quickly developing bloat, which is a life-threatening condition. It’s more common in deep-chested dog breeds, such as Saint Bernards and Basset Hounds, but can happen to almost any dog without much warning.
Bloat, or gastric dilation volvulus, occurs acutely when the stomach fills with gas and then rotates within the abdomen. In the blog, the owner stated it was from drinking ice water, but the cause could have been from how fast the dog was drinking, not the ice itself. Drinking too much water too fast is never recommended, as this may make it more likely that a dog will gulp a lot of air along with water and/or food. This can cause bloat, not the ice.
So is ice dangerous for dogs to drink in their water? Nope! However, there are some instances where it is best to avoid giving your dog ice.
Cooling Off with a Cold Treat
Ice can be dangerous if you use it to cool your dog off when they’re overheating. While ice water can seem like a refreshing answer, it’s often the wrong one. You’ll want to cool your dog off gradually, as the ice water can be a shock to their system. You can offer them water, but only small amounts at a time until the dog is calmer and rested, at which time free access can be allowed.
In general, ice makes a fine treat. It’s crunchy, cool, and fun for your dog to eat. Every once in a while, it’s perfectly fine to give ice to your dog!
Teething with Ice
Do not give your pup ice cubes for teething. You can freeze toys and use teething-specific toys, but never use straight ice. The ice can chip and damage their gums and teeth!
Using Ice to Encourage Them to Drink (Only When Sick)
Ice cubes are great to help introduce dogs to water when they’re recovering from surgery, but it’s not recommended to supplement ice for water altogether.
Veterinarians also recommend offering ice cubes as a tryout after vomiting episodes associated with gastroenteritis, to see if they are able to hold fluids down.
If your dog isn’t interested in drinking water, it’s unlikely that a few ice cubes will help. Consider taking them to the vet to see if something else is going on with your pup.
Is Ice Safe for Dogs to Walk and Lay On?
In short, yes! If the ice is thick enough and completely frozen, then it’s safe for dogs (assuming they don’t slip) to walk on and lay on.
Walking on ice is okay, assuming your dog has traction. Their paws are excellent at staying warm, even when on chilly surfaces. Limit their exposure though, just to be safe! If the ice is too slippery, then try to get your dog on more stable ground. They can slip and injure their legs pretty easily, so it’s not worth the risk. You can get them boots with traction to help, especially if you’re out on a hike, walk, or hunting/ice fishing trip!
Laying on ice is a toss up. If the ice stays frozen, then it should be fine for a short while. However, if your dog’s body heat starts to melt the ice, then you should move your dog quickly! You don’t want them to get wet, because wet fur is the gateway to hypothermia.
Ice can be more dangerous for short-haired dogs than longer hair dogs, especially when it comes to laying on it. Short-haired breeds don’t have a ton of insulating fur, so they’re more likely to get cold than huskies, malamutes, or thicker-haired breeds. So if you notice your chihuahua resting on ice, you may want to call them to someplace warmer to reduce the risk of hypothermia or frostbite.
So, to summarize, is ice dangerous for dogs? Only in very particular circumstances. They should be fine if you keep an eye on your pup and limit their intake.