With record summer heat, we’re all looking for ways to cool off, including our dogs. But is ice safe for dogs? Recently we’ve seen lots of posts on social media claiming that giving dogs ice is a bad idea, and can even prove fatal. We just had to find out more. Especially since dogs playing “hockey” with ice cubes is a favorite game around here!
Like always, it depends
It turns out that the answer as to whether it’s dangerous to give dogs ice is a tiny bit ambiguous.
It’s absolutely fine if your dog is a little warm and you give them some ice chips to cool off a bit. Or let them chase a cube around the floor. Or munch on a frozen carrot or doggy ice pop. It’s even absolutely okay to stuff their treat-dispensing toys (yogurt with mix-ins is a local favorite) and freeze them for the dogs to enjoy.
When ice is a no-no
The problem with ice happens when dogs are possibly suffering from heat stroke.
It doesn’t take long for heat stroke to become a danger. In as little as half an hour, dogs can succumb. And it’s more likely in humid weather. If you see your dog breathing rapidly and/or panting heavily, it’s time to start thinking about getting him/her someplace cooler.
Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs can progress to drooling, dry mucous membranes, skin hot to the touch, bright red gums and tongue. And it gets worse from there, including signs of shock; white or blue gums, rapid heart rate, hyperventilating, tremors, incontinence, and collapse. No one wants their dog suffering from heat stroke.
What to do
An episode of heat stroke is when ice can be dangerous. Getting the dog cooler is vital, but it turns out that an ice bath is the worst way to do it. The sudden change can send the dog’s system into shock.
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, get the dog to a cooler spot, sponge him or her down with room temperature or tepid water, and use a fan for evaporative cooling.
Just really hot
To avoid heat stroke entirely, limit time in the heat for your dogs. Remember that dogs don’t sweat, except for the minimal amount through the pads of their feet. Instead, they rely on panting to cool themselves, but it can only do so much.
When you must go out, consider a cooling coat for your dog. Our favorite, least-fuss option is the K9 Kool Coat. In this weather, our dogs don’t leave home without it.
Long-coated dogs, short-faced dogs (like French Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers), and obese dogs are most prone to get in trouble on steamy days. Try to limit outside trips to short potty walks. Exercise your dog with toys and training games inside. This heat wave could be just the excuse you need to start our 2-Minute Training Games with your dog. Keep in mind that a short training session is just as tiring for dogs as 20 minutes or more of fetch or walking! Using your brain can be exhausting – remember test days at school?
Ice is fine
Or you can always join your dog in a game of ice-cube hockey. Around here, the people always lose this game. The other side tends to run off and munch on the “puck.”
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