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When is it OK to give your dog ice?

Lots of dogs also enjoy a cool treat and the question of whether it’s okay to give ice cubes to dogs often arises. The answer to this is: yes, dogs can have ice cubes, but there are a couple of things you need to consider first.

When the weather heats up, many of us look forward to an ice lolly or ice cream. Lots of dogs also enjoy a cool treat and the question of whether it’s okay to give ice cubes to dogs often arises. The answer to this is: yes, dogs can have ice cubes, but there are a couple of things you need to consider first.

In recent times, stories about ice cubes causing stomach problems in dogs were circulating. We now know that there is no strong evidence for ice cubes causing bloat or damage to the stomach. The main risk to a dog from being given ice cubes is that of choking. Ice cubes often whizz around when dogs are playing with them, and if one were to get lodged in the back of the throat, or a dog were to gulp one down whole, they could choke. So, you might like to offer your dog crushed ice instead, particularly if they are small or young.

Do ice cubes cool dogs down?

There is unlikely to be much effect on a dog’s core temperature if they eat a few ice cubes, but they might enjoy the sensation of chomping them, or playing with ice cubes in their water.

What other cold treats can I give my dog?

You can freeze low-salt stock, or save some chicken or fish stock when you’re cooking and freeze that, provided there are no extra ingredients. You can also freeze cooked vegetables like brocolli and carrots. Food-dispensing toys such as Kongs can be stuffed with dog-safe recipes and frozen. Your dog will love working away to get their cool treat. Just remember to reduce your dog’s regular feed portion if they’ve had an extra meal like this!

If you’re out and about, many ice cream sellers now offer dog-friendly ice creams, which your dog may like while you’re enjoying your own treat. In general, ice creams made for people can upset dogs’ tummies. They usually contain dairy products, which can be difficult for dogs to digest.

I think my dog has heatstroke – can I give them ice?

Heatstroke is a medical emergency requiring immediate cooling and veterinary care. It can happen surprisingly quickly, is potentially life-threatening and can cause life-changing injuries. 

Don’t try to give your dog ice if you think they have overheated. They may choke and it won’t make any difference to their temperature anyway. Instead, pour cold tap water all over them, run the hose over them non-stop or place them in a paddling pool of cold water – ensuring someone stays with them so their head stays clear of the water. 

Phone your vet immediately and they’ll advise you of the next steps. In the meantime, continue cooling your dog using cold water. Ice-water isn’t necessary and there is no need to take the chill off the water as heatstroke is more of a danger than cold shock would be.

Here's a quick reminder of the signs of heatstroke in dogs: 

  • Heavy or quick panting.
  • Seeming unsettled or confused, perhaps whining or barking.
  • Drooling, or repeatedly trying to drink.
  • Gums or tongue looking darker than usual - dark pink to red or purple.

Read more about heatstroke in dogs

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