Should I give my dog ice cubes to cool down?

Now that's a question I wasn't expecting to ask or answer today. A post on Facebook

Do ice cubes cool dogs down safely?

yesterday, reportedly from an American vet suggested there were real dangers in giving dogs ice cubes to cool them down. It claimed this could be counterproductive and actually cause your dog to increase body heat to compensate.


Later the same day, this led to debate between friends with countering views.


Many of you will notice that social media doesn't do nuance so I thought I'd try to bottom out an answer and understand why such contrasting opinions might be circulating.

Taz

Many of you will know we're in a heat wave in the UK at present so the question is relevant to me and potentially other dog owners.

You may also know I have a very loyal border collie called Taz who though not struggling isn't enjoying the current hot temperatures.

One of the problems I had with the available commentary online was it was largely unsourced and I had no idea whether to give any weight to the opinions (often presented as 'facts') the contained.

Given that, I should declare my position and the sources I've used to get this summary together.

I'm a lifelong dog-owner not a vet. like most pet owners, I don't have any veterinary qualifications but want the best for my dog.

I've drawn together input from three main sources, the blue cross charity in the UK, the Dogs Trust and my vets practice. So, a broad range of credible sources.

It's always more complicated than that.

Bringing together their answers to ;Is it ok to give my dog ice cubes to calm them down, the nuanced answer is probably, but it depends on your dog's health and immediate condition.

All three sources indicate that as a general rule with a healthy dog just needing to cool down on a hot day ice cubes shouldn't cause a problem. My vets suggest older dogs who may have weaker teeth could suffer dental issues, but the same effect could be achieved by putting ice in their bowls.

So if it's that straight forward, why the confusion? Here I need to turn to both The Dogs Trust and Blue Cross. Here's the nuance bit.

The key point about ice cubes is whether your dog is already showing any symptoms of heat stroke, if they are then don't give ice, get them under cool tap water and to a vet

Vets in the USA take a highly precautionary approach as they don't want owners having to check whether there might be heat stroke in play so they tend to have a blanket ban on the idea and put the emphasis on getting a veterinary assessment re the best treatment.

Many of the online comments originate in the US so the difference in attitude to the precautionary principle along with the likelihood of super high temperatures goes some way to explain the conflicting advice.

All three sources gave the following advice in broadly similar terms. If your dog is pretty much their normal self but hot then ice cubes are ok


If your dog is showing signs of significant stress, if the gums are sticky or unusually coloured (for your dog), if there is excessive and unusual drooling. vomiting or extreme lethargy then get them to the vet asap. Hopefully that's some clarity and I'm off to give Taz a cold drink with or without ice cube.


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