Is ice bad for dogs? This is a common question, especially in hot areas, where pet owners look for ways to cool their dogs down. But can dogs eat ice safely? The short answer is yes.
Dogs can eat ice, but we recommend crushed ice. Dogs and ice cubes can be a dangerous mix due to a potential choking hazard, especially if your pet is a small breed or a puppy.
In moderation, ice cubes for dogs can be a good way to cool them down on a hot day and encourage them to stay hydrated.
Can Dogs Eat Ice?
Ice, put simply, is water which has been frozen. A tall glass of iced water is a great way for us humans to cool down. But what about dogs and ice cubes?
Dogs are just as prone to getting hot as any other animal, especially in the summer or after a bout of exercise. And as every pet parent knows, our faithful friends are unable to sweat. So they need to find other ways to cool down.
Giving your pet ice may seem like a natural solution. But is that a good idea, or is ice bad for dogs?
A few years ago, contradicting rumors circulated on the internet stating the extreme risk to dogs eating ice. There were even reports that it could possibly lead to death. These stories caused much panic and confusion among dog owners around the globe.
However, the good news is that, so long as you follow certain precautions, it is perfectly safe to give your dog ice cubes when it is hot.
Dogs And Ice Cubes
Whether ice is made for human or animal consumption, it should be made from clean, pure water that is safe to drink.
For people, ice is often used in cube form, usually in relatively small rectangular blocks. Sometimes ice is sold as chips. Other times, it can be found crushed, which is the easiest to chew for those of us who like to chew on ice — even at the potential hazard to our teeth.
If you’ve ever dropped an ice cube on the floor of your kitchen by accident, you likely discovered that dogs like to lick at the ice. However, they won’t usually try to pick it up and chew on it.
Ice is unlikely to cause an extreme reaction in your dog. At the same time, there is always a chance that your individual dog will not like ice, or that it may cause an upset stomach. This would usually only be the case if your dog eats too much ice at once.
But it is something to watch out for.
Is Ice Bad For Dogs?
Despite the unfounded rumors to the contrary, ice is not bad for dogs, provided it is given in a safe manner. But why is, “Can dogs eat ice?” even an issue to begin with? Primarily, it is founded on the false myth is that drinking ice water on a hot day can cause a dog to bloat.
Bloat is triggered by a dog drinking or eating too fast, taking in large amounts of air, thus creating a build-up of gas in the stomach. Check out our article on the risks of bloat for more information.
Putting a couple of ice cubes in your dog’s drinking water is a good way to keep him hydrated, as it encourages him to drink, plus it makes a very welcome treat!
Is Ice Bad For Dogs’ Teeth?
Another potential danger is that aggressively chewing on an ice cube could make your dog’s teeth brittle, possibly breaking one or two in the process.
However, this is highly unlikely given that most dogs can happily chow down on entire raw bones.
All the same, if you give your dog ice cubes, the best and safest way to offer one is by crushing it into small pieces.
A whole ice cube could stick to your dog’s tongue or he could swallow it all in one go, causing him to choke.
Is Ice Good For Dogs?
Giving your dog ice cubes, either crushed up or in his drinking water, is an excellent and safe way to keep your beloved pooch hydrated on a hot summer’s day.
It is also a healthy and natural way to keep his teeth clean!
However, like everything, ice should be given in moderation as a rewarding treat and not something to be expected every time you go to the freezer, as this could ultimately lead to pestering.
In some cases, giving your dog ice cubes may cause him to have a severe reaction, such as vomiting. If this happens, then ice is obviously something your dog is unable to tolerate, so should not be given in future.
Can Dogs Eat Iced Food?
What about frozen food? Is ice bad for dogs when it’s really iced food?
Frozen food has some of the same potential for both benefits and disadvantages. Iced treats, especially if your dog is able to chew on them over a period of time, can help to cool down and refresh your dog.
But if your dog tries to swallow the treat whole, it could get stuck and create a hazard.
Make sure to monitor your dog if you give him a frozen treat.
Can Ice Treat Overheating In Dogs?
Ice water can be a good way to encourage your dog to drink, thus helping to prevent overheating and dehydration.
However, do not be tempted to give lots of ice water for dogs which show signs of heat stroke. In addition, do not place them in an ice bath, as this could be extremely dangerous.
Be aware if your dog shows any of the following signs of heat stroke, and immediately take him to a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will act to lower your dog’s body temperature, administer fluids and monitor his progress to aid his recovery.
- Panting rapidly
- Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale looking gums
- Saliva thick and sticky
Can Puppies Eat Ice?
Can dogs eat ice while they are still puppies?
Some people recommend giving an ice cube to a puppy when they are teething to help soothe aching gums.
However, you should never give large quantities of ice cube to a puppy or put ice in their water. This is a precaution, as their bodies are potentially not developed enough to cope with extreme coldness.
You can, though, happily give your teething puppy commercial toys that are meant to be frozen.
Also, frozen vegetables, such as carrots, can be offered or just immerse a clean cloth in water, twist into shape, and place in the freezer for a couple of hours, creating a home-made soother for your pup.
Should I Give My Dog Ice?
By now, you know that the answer to, “Are ice cubes bad for dogs?” is a qualified no.
Ice isn’t necessarily bad for your dog. But the potential for a choking hazard should be weighed against the benefit of cooling your dog down.
That’s a decision for each individual owner to make. But ice can be given to dogs safely, in crushed form.
It should always be given in moderation, and you should always stay with your dog while he is chewing on ice to make sure that no choking occurs.
How To Prepare Ice For Dogs
As mentioned, you can put a few ice cubes in your dog’s water to cool it down.
Alternatively, you can give your dog some crushed ice or ice chips to chew on. He may prefer to just lick the ice, however.
As another set of options, you can look at commercially available toys that are made to be frozen and chewed on without presenting a hazard.
And finally, consider making an ice lick. This is a wonderful way to keep your dog entertained during those long, hot summer days plus you can monitor his intake. Freeze chicken or beef broth with a little peanut butter for a yummy, doggy ice treat!
Alternatives To Ice Cubes For Dogs
Are you concerned about the potential hazards of ice cubes for dogs? Are you interested in looking at other refreshing treat options?
Take a look our feature “What Can Dogs Eat?” for more tips on unusual treats.
Is Ice Bad For Dogs? A Summary
So are ice cubes bad for dogs?
Ice is not bad for dogs, but it does prevent a few hazards, such as that of choking. That can be mitigated by giving your dog crushed ice and by monitoring him.
Overall, ice can be a good way to keep your dog cool. Water with a few ice cubes can encourage him to stay hydrated. And frozen treats, when made and served correctly, can quickly become favorites for dogs of all ages!
References and Further Reading
- Overheating And Dogs. AKC Canine Health Foundation
- DIY Ice Lick For Dogs. Earth Rated.
- Heat Stroke in Dogs: A Retrospective Study of 54 Cases (1999-2004) and Analysis of Risk Factors for Death. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
- RADIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THORACIC CONFORMATION AND THE RISK OF GASTRIC DILATATION-VOLVULUS IN DOGS. Veterinary Radiology And Ultrasound
- Seasonal Advice For Summer. RSPCA
Revised and updated for 2019.