Is Ice Safe for Dogs to Eat? An Expert Weighs In


Is Ice Safe for Dogs to Eat? An Expert Weighs In

There are no known risks—or benefits—to giving your pup ice cubes. Claudia Guthrie
Claudia Guthrie By Claudia Guthrie April 16, 2021 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print

If you have an automatic ice dispenser in your freezer, you might have a pup that comes running every time he hears you filling up a glass. In his mind, he's probably wondering what yummy frozen treat you're not sharing. But are ice cubes safe for dogs?

"The best answer is just not to use ice cubes," says Pam Nichols, DVM, President of the American Animal Hospital Association. "I think it's entertaining to watch a dog bob for ice cubes, but it really serves no purpose."

Adult jack russell terrier licks ice cube on pavement
Adult jack russell terrier licks ice cube on pavement Credit: K_Thalhofer / Getty

Is Ice Bad for Dogs To Eat?

In a 2010 blog post, a pet owner claimed giving her pup ice water led to the dog quickly developing bloat. This is a life-threatening condition where the stomach expands and twists, and is most common in large, deep-chested dog breeds.

The post went viral, worrying pet parents everywhere. But there is no evidence to support this claim. Nobody knows what, precisely, causes bloat, but some believe drinking a lot of water (with or without ice) too quickly to be a risk factor.

The short answer is that eating ice will not kill your dog. More realistic ice-related dangers for dogs who like to chomp ice cubes aren't nearly as dramatic. Nichols says that it's possible for ice cubes to damage the enamel on dog's teeth.

So Wait … Are You Saying Ice Cubes Are Good For Dogs?

Not so fast. We humans enjoy ice in our drinks, so you may be thinking your dog would enjoy a little ice in their water too, right? It's a tough reminder, but we have to keep in mind that dogs and humans aren't the same (even though we may feel like family sometimes!).

After a long walk or vigorous game of tug-of-war, your dog will be just fine with water straight from the hose or faucet. Giving him ice water, or just a handful of ice cubes, has no beneficial value, Nichols says. And as with any addition to your dog's diet, it's best to check with your veterinarian to better understand whether your pooch in particular may have any additional risks to take into consideration.

Crushed vs. Cubed Ice: Does It Make a Difference To Dogs?

If you're bombarded with puppy dog eyes every time you help yourself to a cold drink, you could give your dog ice cubes. But if you do choose to give Fido ice, Nichols recommends serving crushed over cubed.

Again, chewing on ice cubes can cause your dog's teeth to break—especially if your pup likes to crunch his food. To avoid a big veterinarian bill (and to keep your four-legged friend from hurting himself!), it's best to avoid frozen snacks altogether in favor of a full water dish. But in general, crushed ice pellets are a better option than large, solid cubes.

RELATED: How to Take Care of Dog Tooth Extraction—Hint: Leave It to the Professionals

Can I Give My Puppy Ice Cubes for Teething?

Puppies get their first set of teeth when they're around two weeks old. After you adopt your puppy and bring him home, he'll begin teething (losing his baby teeth to make room for full-sized chompers) when he's between 4–6 months old.

Don't give your pup ice cubes for teething. If anything, Nichols says that she has recommended freezing a washcloth and letting the teething puppy chew on it. But doing that could encourage him to chew on cloth—and your pillows and clothes might not be safe afterward.

To help with teething, it's best to give your puppy soft and flexible chew toys.

Will Giving My Dog Ice Help Him Keep Cool?

Dogs don't sweat like we do, and if they're a Nordic breed (a.k.a., covered in a thick, fluffy coat) or brachycephalic (have a smooshed face), warm weather can be a serious problem. Both floofy dogs such as the Samoyed and flat-faced breeds including Boston terriers are susceptible to heat stroke.

All dogs should have access to shade, shelter, and water during hot summer days. If your dog begins showing signs of heatstroke (excessive panting, thick saliva, and abnormal red gums are some common symptoms), the best way to cool down your pup isn't by giving him ice, but by wetting his feet and belly with cool water and taking him to the vet immediately.

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