You use them to cool down your drink – frozen water, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. But should you give ice to your dog to chew on?
Dogs can eat anything. The question is, should they?
We checked with the holy grail of all things “dog” – the American Kennel Club (AKC) – and when it comes to your pooch chomping down on an ice-cube or two during particularly hot weather, the verdict is in. No problem, let him munch away.
Now, just like humans who like to crunch on ice (I never understood that), there’s always the potential that your pooch could break a tooth or injure his gum-line if he’s biting down on a shard. So, always keep that in mind when you’re adding ice to his water dish or tossing him a cube as a treat. Be sure to keep his noshing infrequent (versus daily), opt for smaller chunks versus big cubes, and consider popping the cubes in a blender for shaved / crushed ice that he can lap up more easily.
And while all dogs may be happy to crunch on ice when temperatures climb, it should come as no surprise, that the larger breeds tend to appreciate a frosty cube of ice more than others. Their jaws are built for breaking down hard foods, and when it comes to ice, most are pretty happy to find a cube or two floating in their water bowl. That said, pet owners should be cognizant of a myth that has been circulating for years related to the introduction of ice to your pet’s water bowl. Because larger, barrel-chested dogs can be prone to bloat when they gulp a large amount of food or water too quickly, the belief was that your over-heated pooch would gulp his icy cold water too quickly and experience bloat.
For those unfamiliar with the condition, the technical name for bloat is gastric torsion and it’s serious enough that it can be life-threatening, requiring an immediate visit to your vet. If your pooch is over-heated and a bowl full of cold water is causing him to rapidly gulp it down to cool off, then ice or not, you need to temper your approach by offering it to him in slow but progressive amounts to control his intake. Again, you know your pooch best and while its unlikely that ice would cause a dog to consume water voraciously enough to result in bloat, you should always make sure your dog is able to pace his intake of both food and water.
But beyond the cooling effect that ice can provide to an over-heated pooch, there’s always the novelty factor -because its different. Something a dog could never conceive of existing – hard water. They eat food, they drink water, but frozen water is an oddity that they can lick, chew, or chase across the floor. It’s mental stimulation that entertains and cools down.
Now, if your dogs are like mine, they look at you as if you have two heads when they discover you’ve added ice-cubes to their water dish. While they’re curious, they’re having none of it and won’t drink until the ice has melted. If you think your pooch would actually enjoy this type of frozen treat if he could just get his head around it, try freezing one of his favorite treats in the ice. Something bright and visible. Your dog can then work away at the cube to get to the treat, and he gets to chill out in the process. Or why not freeze cubes of frozen chicken or beef broth, that will not only cool him down, but taste great.
Mary Simpson is a writer and communications professional from Port Credit, Ontario. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include Schnoodles, Lexie and Ruby James as well as tuxedo Simon, and ginger Harry. She enjoys running, politics, exploring the wine regions of Niagara and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.