Dogs and Ice Water

The story circulating social media, relating to dogs and ice water, seems to have everyone concerned about the safety of giving pets cold or iced water.  It was no doubt posted by a very well-meaning pet owner who lost a pet in an unfortunate series of circumstances, but here is what we do know:

‘Bloat’ as it is called in the post is more commonly known in the veterinary industry as Gastric Dilation.  This is when the stomach has a large accumulation of air that it cannot get rid of quickly enough.  This can lead to volvulus or ‘twisting’.  This is known as GDV (Gastric dilation-volvulus) and is a life threatening occurrence because the stomach has twisted at the esophagus and duodenum, and trapped everything inside the stomach.  This also obstructs the blood flow to the abdomen and can lead to shock, damage to the internal organs and often death.

Any activity that causes a dog to ‘gulp’ air can cause bloat or GDV.

  1. Consuming large amounts of water (ANY TEMPERATURE), or food for that matter, quickly.
  2. High stress activities like dog shows, hunting, and even boarding can also be problematic.
  3. Also, certain breeds are more prone to experiencing bloat.

The pet described was very likely experiencing heat stroke and already gulping down air before the ice water was given.  It is a very sad story, but not one that should keep you from giving your pet a few ice cubes in their water to cool them down on a hot, summer day.  You can also try chilled, chewable treats, like watermelon, to help keep your dog cool in the summer.  (Just remember to supervise when giving any toy that could become a choking hazard.)  Above all, please make sure your pet has lots of shade and clean water when the temperatures begin to rise.

It is also a very good idea to know if your pets’ breed or family is prone to GDV and, if so, know the symptoms.  Avoiding exercise immediately before or after feeding can effectively lower their risk.

For questions about ANY pet health issue, please consult your veterinarian