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Is It Safe To Feed Dogs Ice Cubes?

Photo Credit: Darren Hester, Wikimedia Commons

Kitsune and I have been spending a good portion of our time this week barricaded inside our only effectively air conditioned room.  Our area is (hopefully) nearing the end of a week long heat wave.  The excessively high temperatures inspired me to post a few summer safety reminders, like why it's very important not to leave your pets in your car, and how to prevent your pet's paws from getting burned in the summer heat.

Apparently I'm not the only pet owner who's been preoccupied with the temperatures lately.  I've come across quite a few articles discussing summer safety tips for pets.  One of them that caught my eye was a posting about the potential dangers of feeding dogs ice cubes, or allowing them to drink ice water.  I don't give Kitsune ice cubes that often, but I do offer him them occasionally.  I decided to do some further research to see if I could figure out if there really is any danger in giving dogs ice cubes.

There has been a story circulating the internet, apparently since 2007, that warns owners against giving dogs ice cubes or ice water.  I'm not going to repost the story, but you can read it here, as well as take a look at one veterinarians take on it.  The short version is that supposedly eating ice or drinking very cold water can cause a dog's stomach to spasm, which can lead to bloat.  Bloat is most common in large dogs, although not unheard of in small breeds, and it can be deadly.

However, I was unable to find any reliable source that could explain the link between cold water, stomach spasms, and bloat.  Dr. Patty Khuly, author of the petmd article I linked to above, wrote that "Frigid water gastric "cramping" is a falsehood akin to those that inform you that your hair will grow back coarser if you shave it (myth), or that you shouldn’t go swimming for 30 minutes after eating lest you drown in a fit of cramps (myth)."  Although I looked at many articles about bloat and its causes, I didn't find a single source that specifically listed eating ice or drinking cold water as a risk factor for bloat.  On their website, the ASPCA website states that "the exact cause [of bloat] is currently unknown. Certain risk factors include: rapid eating, eating one large meal daily, dry food-only diet, overeating, overdrinking, heavy exercise after eating, fearful temperament, stress, trauma and abnormal gastric motility or hormone secretion."

In fact, many veterinarians and pet experts recommend ice be given to teething puppies.  I also came across many sources that recommended ice be used in pet bowls to keep their water cool in the summer.  The only widely documented risk of eating ice, that I could find, was that, because it's so hard, it can cause fractured teeth.  If this is something you're worried about, you can offer your dog crushed ice instead of ice cubes.

Please, if anyone comes across any information on this topic that I may have missed, feel free to comment and let me know!  For now I've decided that I'm not going to worry about giving Kitsune the occasional ice cube.

  • I've never heard of ice cubes causing bloat either. My 10 month old German shepherd LOVES ice cubes (in fact, he's eating one as I write this.) It cools him down and keeps him entertained. (It amuses me as well.) Sometimes I'll freeze watered down chicken broth into cubes for him as well.

    • Michelle

      I gave them to my Papillon a lot when he was a puppy. It's suppose to help when they are teething. I still give them to him once in awhile just because he likes them. 🙂

  • Thanks for this post - just discovered your blog from your entry on BlogPaws! Kayo LOVES ice cubes and because she's a large deep-chested dog I have read everything humanly possible about bloat and never seen anything related to cold water or ice. The only proven concern I've heard is that ice cubes or ice cold water fed to or poured on dogs suffering from heat stroke could change their temperature too drastically and put them in heat stroke. Thanks again!

    • Michelle

      That's good information about dogs suffering from heat stroke!

      Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  • Nancy

    My dog has always loved ice cubes, especially when he was teething but my brothers dog fractured his tooth when he was a pup and had to have surgery. Was his tooth already cracked and the ice just finished the job? What is the difference between giving them ice to chew on or a hard bone which has no give at all?

    • Michelle

      Hi Nancy!

      I think some types of dog bones are designed to have some give to them, to help protect dog's teeth. But I think a lot of it really has to do with luck!

      Just because ice cubes have been known to damage teeth, doesn't mean it happens 100% of the time. I've been giving my dog ice cubes, as well as lots of bones and chews, for over 4 years and his teeth have never been damaged at all. Your brother's dog may have had some tooth damaged already, or may have just been unlucky.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!


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