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Is Giving Ice or Ice Water to Dogs Dangerous?

Is it safe to give ice to a dog?

There has been a widely-circulated warning in recent years that giving your dog ice or ice water can lead to the dangerous and potentially deadly condition of GDV or bloat.

Is it really unsafe to give your dog ice or ice water?

What Is Canine GDV?

Gastric dilatation and volvulus is a condition most often seen in deep-chested dogs in which the stomach becomes filled with air, stretching the stomach wall (dilatation). In this state, the stomach may actually flip and be twisted off (volvulus). This is an emergency situation that requires immediate surgery. You can learn more about it here: "Bloat in Dogs: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)."

Does Ice or Cold Water Cause GDV in Dogs?

No, consuming ice or cold water does not, in itself, cause bloat. However, drinking the water or eating the ice too quickly can result in bloat, due to the dog swallowing lots of air while ingesting it.

Ice or ice water is usually given to a dog when he is hot from exercising or because it's a hot day. In those circumstances, the dog may drink the water or eat the ice fast. If GDV occurs, the appearance may be that the temperature of the water given is the culprit, but that is not the case.

So Can I Give My Dog Ice or Cold Water?

Yes, but try to be sure he eats or drinks it slowly. This may mean giving him small amounts frequently instead of a large amount all at once.

If your dog does drink a lot of water or eat a lot of food quickly, keep him calm for an hour or two. Don't allow him to run, jump, and play afterwards because that increases the chances that an air-filled stomach will flip over and twist off.

In general, it's a good practice to get into to have your dog rest after eating and drinking, especially if he is a deep-chested breed or one more prone to GDV such as:

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  • German shepherd
  • Great Dane
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Saint Bernard
  • Standard poodle
  • Irish setter
  • Bouvier
  • Wolfhound
  • Old English sheepdog
  • Akita
  • Mastiff

Using a special bowl like the Brake-fast bowl for food can help a dog eat more slowly and reduce the chance of GDV.

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