dog diets, Dog Health, General

Is drinking ice water or eating ice bad for dogs?

The following story is making the rounds again. The first time I saw it on Facebook causing panic I thought it was silly; the second and third and fourth times showed that it really does need a response. Here's the text that is being spread:


Hello Everyone,

I am writing this in hopes that some may learn from what I just went through. We were having a good weekend till Saturday. On Saturday I showed my Baran and left the ring. He was looking good and at the top of his game. He had a chance at no less then one of the two AOM’s.

It did not work out that way. After showing we went back to our site/setup and got the dogs in their crates to cool off. After being back about 30 min. I noticed Baran was low on water. I took a hand full of ice from my cooler and put it in his bucket with more water. We then started to get all the dogs Ex’ed and food ready for them.

I had Baran in his 48′ crate in the van because this is the place he loves to be. He loves to be able to see everyone and verything. After checking him and thinking he was cooled off enough, we fed him. We walked around and one of my friends stated that Baran seamed like he was choking. I went over and checked on him. He was dry heaving and drooling. I got him out of the crate to check him over and noticed he had not eaten. He was in some distress. I checked him over from head to toe and did not notice anything. I walked him around for about a minute when I noticed that he was starting to bloat. I did everything I was taught to do in this case. I was not able to get him to burp, and we gave him Phasezime.

We rushed Baran to a vet clinic. We called ahead and let them know we were on our way. They were set up and waiting for us. They got Baran stabilized very quickly. After Baran was stable and out of distress we transported him to AVREC where he went into surgery to make sure no damage was done to any of his vital organs. I am very happy to say Baran is doing great, there was no damage to any vital organs, and he still loves his food. In surgery the vet found that Baran’s stomach was in its normal anatomic position. We went over what had happened. When I told the vet about the ice water, he asked why I gave him ice water. I said that I have always done this. I told him my history behind this practice and his reply was, “I have been very lucky.” The ice water I gave Baran caused violent muscle spasms in his stomach which caused the bloating. Even though I figured his temperature was down enough to feed, and gave him this ice water, I was wrong. His internal temperature was still high. The vet stated that giving a dog ice to chew or ice water is a big NO, NO! There is no reason for a dog to have ice/ice water. Normal water at room temperature, or cooling with cold towels on the inner thigh, is the best way to help cool a dog. The vet explained it to me like this: If you, as a person, fall into a frozen lake what happens to your muscles? They cramp. This is the same as a dog’s stomach.

I felt the need to share this with everyone, in the hopes that some may learn from what I went through, I do not wish this on anyone. Baran is home now doing fine. So please, if you do use ice and ice water, beware of what could happen.

This story has been circulating for a couple of years and it is FALSE. There is absolutely no reason that dogs cannot drink ice water or eat ice, including after heavy exertion. 

Ice water is actually very good for lowering body temperature and does NOT cause cramping. Or colic. It's good for horses, it's good for people, it's good for dogs. If the dog in the story ever existed in the first place (notice how all identifying information besides the dog's name has been stripped from the story, so this is reported as being anything from a Corgi to a Dane) it's the story of a dog who bloated at a show. As many, many dogs do. 

If people who have been exercising heavily fall into a frozen lake, they haul themselves out and actually experience less injury afterward than if they had rested. 

If horses who have been exercising heavily are soaked in ice water and given refrigerated water to drink, they recover faster. 

Dogs who are having heatstroke recover fast when ice water is dumped in their stomachs.

This persistent old wives' tale can, thankfully, join "Don't swim after eating" and "Gum stays in your stomach for seven years" – it's false, and your dog can enjoy as much ice and ice water as he would like. 

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  • Reply Amy Shores Gardner July 31, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Sure hope not. My Aussie can work the ice maker. He’d tell you there’s nothing like self-serve on a hot day!

  • Reply Julie Garland-Powers July 31, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I have seen this e-mail in the past, too. Dr. Khuly recently wrote about it on her blog Fully Vetted and also shot it down:

  • Reply Missy DeYoung July 31, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for the interesting post – I wasn’t too concerned. The horse article you linked to was fascinating as well.

  • Reply Mary August 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Amy, you made me laugh out loud with that mental image of your aussie at the sub-zero! LOL!!

  • Reply Maxine July 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Please dont put ur dog in ice water if it has heat stroke… tepid water not iced water…

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