The mercury’s rising, and you’re out in the garden enjoying the sunshine. There’s a tray of drinks by your side, complete with a small bucket of ice to keep your lemonade or mojito chilled.
Your dog wanders over, keen to get involved in this new game. Do you throw them an ice cube or not?
Frozen water: a heated debate
It turns out it’s quite a controversial subject, whether or not you should give your dog ice cubes in hot weather. Apparently a message containing a whole heap of pseudo-science went viral not long ago, claiming that ice cubes were dangerous for dogs.
As you know, at YuMOVE we’re all about getting the science right, so we had a look into it, to separate the myth from the facts.
Ice cube myth debunked
Several vets have discounted the viral post that claimed that if a dog eats an ice cube, it will trigger an area of the brain that will cause the dog’s body temperature to rise. The post was written by an unnamed vet who said that a seven-year old dog had died as a result of eating ice cubes.
In fact, there’s no anatomical link between the receptors in your dog’s throat and the bit of the brain that regulates temperature. That post was based on bad science and scaremongering, so we can move swiftly on.
The dangers of ice cubes for dogs
But are there any good reasons why you shouldn’t give your dog ice cubes to eat? Well, there are a couple.
- Risk of choking. Don’t give a huge ice cube to a small dog. That can cause a choking risk. If in doubt, use shavings, rather than cubes, of ice.
- Risk of damaging teeth. There’s a small risk that chewing on ice cubes could damage your dog’s teeth.
Don’t give ice to a dog with heatstroke
One clear bit of advice is not to give ice to your dog if they’re suffering from heatstroke.
Dogs don’t sweat in the same way as humans, and can only pant to cool themselves down. If they get too hot and are unable to lower their body temperature, they can develop heatstroke. This can be very serious, and can even kill.
If you think that your dog has heatstroke, don’t give them ice cubes as you need to lower their body temperature gently and slowly. Have a look at our blog about heat stroke in dogs for tips on what to do, including moving them into the shade and dousing them with cool water. If you have any doubt about your dog’s condition, take them to the vet straight away.
Cool ideas for hot dogs
Now that we’ve got the warnings out of the way, here are some ideas for how you can help your dog to stay cool on hot summer days.
- The Blue Cross recommends adding some xylitol-free peanut butter, salmon or tuna to your ice cube tray to create tasty, cooling treats.
- Try this dog ice lolly recipe from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. It involves blending an apple and a carrot with some water, then freezing the blended ingredients around a stick-shaped edible dog treat.
- Give your four-pawed friend some doggy ice cream. (Not the human kind – that contains lactose and sugar that are not good for canines.) We like the sound of Old Sock flavour doggy ice cream, which is flavoured with sweet potato and cheddar cheese, rather than actual socks.
- Freeze a stuffed Kong to give your dog a cooling treat as well as rewarding their patience on a hot day! The Blue Cross cleverly suggests putting a dry treat in the base of the Kong and wrapping it in cling film so the contents don’t end up sticking to the bottom of your freezer.
- Freeze your dog’s regular food by putting a layer of wet food at the bottom of a plastic takeaway box, covering it with kibble, adding water, then freezing it.
Find lots more ideas in our blog on how to cool down your dog on a hot day.