Giving your dog ice cubes, frozen treats or putting ice in their water can be a great way to keep them cool on a hot summer’s day, but is there any risk of them breaking a tooth, getting it stuck in their throat or causing them to develop life-threatening bloat?
Generally speaking, giving your dog ice cubes or homemade frozen treats is ok, but there are some issues to be aware of and some precautions that we recommend you take.
Can eating ice cause my dog’s teeth to break?
Giving your dog anything hard to chew on can cause the enamel on their teeth to wear down or can even result in a broken tooth. So long as your dog has healthy teeth, it’s unlikely that occasionally giving them a frozen treat will damage their teeth, but to reduce the risk of damage you can:
Make ice cubes and frozen treats slightly softer by taking them out of the freezer five minutes before you give them
Avoid using large freezer moulds, and instead use smaller moulds that make it easier for your dog to break the ice down with their teeth
For dogs with dental issues, any homemade frozen treats can be put into a blender for a few seconds and served in a bowl as a slushie.
Can eating ice cause a blockage in my dog’s throat?
Although the chance of your dog choking on a frozen treat is slim, there is always a risk of giving them anything hard to eat. You can use smaller moulds to reduce the risk of choking, and we recommend only giving them frozen treats when you’re around to keep an eye on them. Dogs that have difficulty chewing or swallowing may be more at risk, so their frozen treats could either be broken up or blended for a few seconds and given as a slushie.
Can eating ice cause bloat?
Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can happen when a dog’s stomach fills with gas and becomes twisted, cutting off the blood supply to the gut. Although we don’t fully understand the cause of bloat, eating frozen treats or ice cubes is not known to influence the risk of a dog developing bloat.
Factors that are thought to cause bloat include:
Eating too quickly
Eating right before or after exercising
A family history of bloat
It’s possible that gulping down too much water could cause bloat, but eating the occasional individual frozen treat is unlikely to be a significant risk. If your dog is hot, or very thirsty, giving them cool water with ice cubes in may encourage them to drink too quickly, causing them to swallow lots of air and increase their risk of bloat. Try to prevent them from drinking quickly by only giving them a little water at a time, and make sure not to give your dog too much to drink right before or after exercise.
Can I give my dog ice if I think they have heatstroke?
Heatstroke is a serious condition that can cause affected dogs to become unwell very quickly. Research has shown that one in seven dogs that are taken to the vets die, but 98 per cent of those that are treated early survive. If your dog does develop heatstroke, it’s vital that they are cooled down as soon as possible and taken to the vets for treatment.
Cooling down a dog too quickly can cause them to go into shock, so as long as you have something else to cool them down with (e.g., water), then we wouldn't recommend using ice.
Find out more about heatstroke and how to help your dog if they were to be affected.
Can eating ice cause my dog to overheat?
For years, rumours have been circulating on social media that giving ice to a dog can trick their bodies into actually warming up, increasing the risk of heatstroke. This is not true and has been debunked by vets. Giving ice cubes, cold water or frozen treats is a useful way of helping dogs to stay cool on hot days.
Where can I find dog-friendly, homemade recipes for frozen treats for my dog?
If your dog needs a cool treat on a hot summer's day, then why not use one of our summer recipes for an icy cold dog treats for them to enjoy.
Think your dog may be affected?
If you're worried about your dog's health, always contact your vet immediately!
We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information.
Find a vet near you
If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.