On a hot summer’s day, or as a spilled side effect of a full fridge freezer whose door just flew open, fresh ice can prove refreshing to dogs.
Given that ice is merely frozen water, there’s no reason to try and prevent your pet from eating it. Yet some urban legends insist otherwise, leaving many pet owners to wonder – can dogs eat ice? Find out here.
Is ice good for dogs?
In recent years, a lot of information has surfaced online suggesting that ice, ice cubes and the like are dangerous for dogs.
Some reports have even suggested there can be bloating involved or even lethal consequences.
It’s unsure how so very much misinformation has come online, but to clear the myth up once and for all, ice made of fresh water is just that – fresh water.
You’re as likely to harm your dog by handing over some ice cubes on a hot day as you are giving him or her a big bowl of fresh, cooling water. In other words, highly unlikely indeed!
However, there’s some merit to suggesting that ice cubes or other ways of feeding ice to your dog can come with some complications, and it would be remiss to overlook those entirely.
For instance, whole ice cubes can be a bit of a choking hazard, especially to smaller dogs who might try and gulp down the big frozen treat all too quickly.
While it may be tempting to simply assume that any danger within ice cubes will melt away altogether before becoming a serious issue, ice doesn’t melt quickly enough to avoid being a bit of a hazard in this way – no matter how hot your dog’s mouth is!
Some dog owners prefer to crunch down ice pieces into a smooth crisp slush when feeding ice to their pooches.
That also avoids another issue that sometimes arises when feeding ice cubes to a dog – namely, older dogs or dogs with brittle teeth can sometimes damage or even break their precious chompers while crunching against some particularly stubborn ice.
Talking of stubborn ice, it can stick to your dog’s tongue, causing frustration and upset as your dog tries to dislodge it. If your pooch is prone to panic, keep this in mind when considering how best to serve ice to your dog.
However, these kinds of risks are few and far between, and for the most part, many vets recommend ice cubes to dog owners rather than speaking against them.
If in doubt, definitely speak to your vet regarding it, particularly if you know your dog is quite a sickly or sensitive sort.
However, more often than not, your dog will be grateful for an ice cube or two tossed his or her way, especially after a long day in the park training and playing in summer.
Health benefits of ice for dogs
Ice is water, and water is ice.
Unless you’re handing over ice cubes to your dog entirely made of filthy or unfiltered water riddled with parasites, there’s no danger whatsoever in your pet feeling any ill effects from eating ice.
In fact, despite the urban myths sprouting up online, it’s positively encouraged by vets and nutritionists the world over.
Naturally, the health benefits of water for dogs are largely identical to the health benefits of ice for dogs.
In short, although ice won’t necessarily replace a big bowl of water on a hot day, it’s rehydration for your pet in a natural and easily consumed form.
Put simply, water is vital for all forms of life, dogs included, and being in the form of ice does nothing to change that.
Far from being a health risk, it would actually be far more risky to your dog’s health, or even life, if you refused him or her ice cubes on an excruciatingly hot day.
The temperature and water content of ice can prove vital to replenishing some coolness and hydration to a hot dog.
Dogs don’t have the ability to sweat like people can, with only the classic panting and tongue flapping to help them out.
It’s far more limited than perspiration, and it’s why hot weather can be so dangerous for dogs.
Think how grateful your furry four-legged friend will be to receive some ice on a scorcher of a day – especially if neither of you has any conventional water handy.
For instance, you might have finished some cola and found the ice cubes intact at the bottom.
While there’ll be a little cola there that’s not otherwise recommended, those ice cubes, poured onto the grass, will be gratefully lapped up.
As a bonus, ice is a very healthy and natural way to help clean your dog’s teeth – and has some water to wash off whatever chewing it digs up all in one package.
How much ice can a dog eat daily?
Once again, because ice is water, it’s really easy to intelligently measure out how much ice a dog ought to eat daily.
It depends on the weather, the size and age of your dog, and how you’re serving ice to your pet – be that in crunchy, satisfying cubes or a crispy slush your pet can lap up fresh from the bowl.
Some dog owners make eating ice something of a treat for their dogs, especially in the heat. A dash of peanut butter, a little gravy or chicken stock in the core of a crunchy ice cube makes a lovely treat for your dog.
By and large, a couple of ice cubes for a small dog and up to five for a bigger dog will do right by your pooch, but please avoid giving ice to puppies or very young dogs.
The temperature is very shocking to them, and their fragile little selves aren’t quite up to the task of crunching down on it yet. Stick to nice cool water for them.
Also, keep in mind that every dog is an individual, so certainly treat ice cube fed to your pet as you would any new food.
Offer it with your hand outstretched and let your dog sniff around it – no matter how cold it feels in your palm! – to see if he or she is interested.
If so, make sure your dog doesn’t vomit or show any other signs of shock – some dogs have very strong negative reactions even to things otherwise good for their fellow pooches.
If this is the case, it can’t be helped – just make sure your dog avoids ice in the future to repeat any discomfort he or she felt.
What to do if your dog eats ice
It’s no suggestion to suggest that if you catch your dog eating ice, you’ve likely caught him or her sneaking treats at the opportune time.
After all, if you had entered the room just a short time later, you might have found your dog lapping up a puddle!
However, you may well feel worried if your dog has been eating ice in large quantities, and should take a look around the area for any signs of broken teeth or other loose chunks of ice that might have pinged out of your dog’s mouth during a particularly enthusiastic crunching session.
The next most immediate concern is if your dog has any risk of choking on any pieces of ice.
This can be even more of a problem if your dog knows that he or she ought not to be gobbling up what he or she currently has.
In moments like that, especially cheeky dogs often accelerate their guilty chomping, leading to an even greater risk of swallowing too much at once and causing a choking hazard.
However, you have nothing to fear from your dog eating ice providing it has come from fresh and clean water.
If your dog has somehow opened the freezer door and is gnawing the ice off the interior, that’s perhaps a more problematic issue – as is ice containing anything besides water you’re worried might be a contaminant of some kind.
If in doubt, contact your vet – and watch out for your dog shuddering and shivering. That’s another clue that he or she has gone too far eating ice.
After all, if it’s a summer’s day and your dog is quivering, they must have eaten rather a lot of ice indeed!
Over the years, a number of false rumors have sprung up regarding giving ice to dogs, the most egregious of which being it gives dog bloat.
Bloat is a condition more to do with dogs inhaling too much air while eating, and ice is actually safe and healthy for dogs to eat and crunch on if it’s suitably sized.
Don’t hold back feeding ice to your dog unless you suspect the water it’s made from isn’t clean and fresh. On a hot day, it can be a welcome treat and a much needed way to cool and refresh your pet.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.