Is Ice Water Dangerous For Dogs? Vet Debunks Online Rumor

Is Ice Water Bad For Dogs?
Could giving your dog ice water to drink on a hot, humid day result in death? A vet debunks the rumor circulating online. Reuters

As summer approaches and the weather gets warmer, animals are feeling the heat the most. Your furry best friend may appear sluggish, panting and boiling in the humidity, in need of an ice cold drink to beat the heat.

But a popular blog post warning of the dangers of giving dogs ice water may have scared you from putting a few cubes in your pooch’s water dish. “No Ice Water For Dogs…Please Read ASAP” claimed that giving a dog ice water can cause bloating that could lead to death. However, the claim is just a myth that has been circulating on the Internet for years.

Veterinarian Dr. Andrew Roark DVM MS told International Business Times that it’s perfectly safe to allow your dog to drink ice water in the summertime.

“This story is probably well-intentioned and intended to help pet owners,” Roark said. “It originally started circulating in 2007 and pops up as ‘new news’ fairly regularly.”

The fictitious blog post claims giving a canine ice water on a hot day can cause bloating and lead to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). GDV, which has a 10 to 60 percent fatality rate, according to urban legend site Snopes.com, is caused by accumulation of gas, fluid, or a combination of the two in the stomach. But it’s not likely a dog could develop GDV from drinking ice water.

“There is no proven link between drinking ice water and getting gastric cramping,” Roark told IBTimes. “There is also no link between drinking ice water and getting GDV.”

He added: “The story scares the pants off pet owners familiar with GDV—and rightly so—while the science behind it is simply not sound.”

According to PetMD.com, the viral post about dogs and ice water has been making the rounds online since 2007. The pet health and nutrition site likened the myth about dogs cramping from drinking ice water to other old wives' tales about human hair growing back thicker after shaving and drowning if you go swimming within 30 minutes of eating.

“Though undoubtedly well-intentioned, the problem is obvious: The writer is misguidedly offering up her story as a helpful truth,” Dr. Patty Khuly of PetMD.com wrote. “The information is unproven, unreliably sourced, unverified, and utterly unnecessarily disseminated to the public.”

Below is the full blog post, for reference.

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.

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