Two Jack Russell dogs eating ice cubes on the floor

You can give ice cubes to dogs but be cautious!

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Can you give ice cubes to dogs?

By Dr Holly Graham BVMedSci BVMBVS MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

It’s not just humans that feel the heat! A common question during the warmer months from owners is ‘can I add ice cubes to my dog’s water bowl’? Read on to find out.

When the temperature is high and the sun is shining, we like some ice in our cool drinks. Or maybe you prefer a cold ice cream. But can you do the same for your dog to help them cool off in the heat? Are ice cubes safe as a treat or in their water?

Here’s how to help your canine companion keep cool when the weather is hot.

Can you give dogs ice cubes to cool them down?

Ice cubes are safe for dogs, a few thrown in a water bowl or left out to lick won’t do your pet any harm. Just don’t dunk them into an ice cold bath! One or two ice cubes left in a bowl of water can be as refreshing for your pet as they would be for us. Some dogs will lick or chew an ice cube directly. It’s unlikely to do any harm to your dog, but they should be supervised with anything that could be a choking hazard. Most ice cubes aren’t hard enough to do any damage to the enamel, but keep a regular check on your dog’s teeth if they’re an ice cube cruncher!

Most dog’s aren’t likely to consume a huge block of ice (or a bag of ice cubes!), but an excess of cold liquid into the stomach has the potential to cause stomach upsets - and could result in vomiting or diarrhoea.

Some dogs may not choose to eat ice cubes, but may prefer to lie on the cooler areas where they have melted. Always monitor your dog with new items in case of problems, but ice cubes are a fairly safe way to keep your dog cool on a hot day. Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water, a cool shady place to lie and keep an eye out for any signs of heatstroke.

Do you feel like your dog is dehydrated? Here is how to treat dehydration in dogs at home

Can icy water be dangerous for the dog?

Ice cold water, if drunk in large quantities and quickly, can cause stomach aches and gastrointestinal upsets. A few ice cubes in a water bowl won’t get the water so cold that it’s undrinkable, but test the water temperature with your hand. If it’s too cold, pour it away or leave it to warm up a little. If you’ve got any concerns with your dog, give your vet a call - particularly if they’re suffering in the summer heat.

Like with humans, dogs shouldn’t go diving into frozen lakes to cool off! But a paddle in a stream or a quick splash in shallow water might help your dog to feel more comfortable if the temperature is rising.

You can also call a 24-hour vet!

How do you make ice cubes for dogs?

Some dogs will happily accept a plain ice cube, and often appreciate it if their water bowl is a little warm. There are creative ideas available online to turn ice cubes into tasty treats. Ensure all ingredients are dog safe before giving them to your pal. A safe recipe for an ice cube snack is as follows.

You will need:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup of beef or chicken stock or broth - make sure to check the salt content and check there aren’t any flavourings like onion!
  • ¼ cup peanut butter - check for any xylitol on the label! Pet safe peanut butters are always the best option.

Make your ice cubes by:

  1. Mixing the water and the broth together
  2. Choosing an ice cube mould that will hold water easily without spilling
  3. Filling the mould with the broth/water mixture
  4. Stick the mould in the freezer for about 30 minutes. The ice cubes don’t need to be completely frozen!
  5. Add a thin layer of peanut butter at the top of the ice cube and put them back in the freezer for another 30 minutes.
  6. Once your ice cubes are ready, wait 5-10 minutes before serving them to your dog. Allow them to melt a little!

Remember anything with extra calories (like peanut butter!) should be fed sparingly, and plain ice cubes are just fine for cooling off too!

How to cool your dog down ​​when it is very hot?

It’s vital for dogs and humans to stay hydrated and cool in the summer. Hyperthermia can be a life threatening situation, and should be taken seriously. Dog’s can’t sweat like we can, and can only ‘sweat’ through glands in the feet that act like our own sweat glands. You’ll see your dog trying to cool off by panting, so it’s important to give them a helping hand in staying cool by providing cool and shady areas to rest in. Fresh water should always be available, and your dog might like a damp towel or sheet to lie on! Other safe methods to help your pet relax in the hot weather include:

  • Walking them when the weather is cooler - for example in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature has dropped. Be careful, just because the sun has gone doesn’t mean it’s cooler! If it’s a very warm day, skip a walk altogether. No dog has died from missing a walk, but they have died after being taken out when it’s too warm.
  • Providing a place to splash - inflatable pools or paddling pools can provide somewhere to help your dog cool off!
  • Regularly change the water in his water bowls, keep it cool and fresh and make sure there’s always easy access!
  • Check out the range of cooling mats or cold packs in your local pet store.

As always, if you’re worried your dog isn’t coping with the heat or is showing signs of heatstroke consult your vet immediately. Stay cool and hydrated, and never spend too long in the sun!

Enjoy your summer with your dog!

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