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Can Dogs Eat Ice Cubes? Safety, Benefits, and How to Offer

Many dogs love ice, whether it’s the cold, the crunch, or perhaps the idea that they’re getting something that comes from that “big box” the humans eat from. In fact, social media is full of funny videos of dogs that have learned how to operate the ice lever and help themselves. But is ice safe for dogs to consume? Let’s discuss some safety considerations, potential benefits, and different ways to give your dog a frozen treat.

Is ice safe for dogs?

In general, ice is safe for dogs, but similar to treats and toys, it can also carry risks that should be assessed before giving. For some dogs, ice can present a choking hazard or be a potential cause of fractured teeth. Generally, anything that is too hard to indent with a fingernail can be too hard to chew, leading to tooth fractures in dogs. Dogs that chew ice regularly can also wear down their tooth enamel. The smaller your dog and the larger the ice cubes can amplify these risks. It’s essential to consider your dog’s size, anatomy, health conditions, and habits before giving them ice.

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Safety considerations for giving ice to dogs

It’s always a good idea to speak to your vet about what items your pet can have based on their current health and individual risk factors, but here are some general safety considerations:

  • Small dogs, especially toy breeds with tiny airways and predispositions to dental problems, can be at an increased risk of choking or breaking a tooth on ice.
  • Dogs with medical conditions like tracheal collapse, esophageal tumors, laryngeal paralysis, or any other conditions that cause difficulty swallowing can be at an increased risk of choking.
  • Brachycephalic breeds, like French bulldogs and pugs, are prone to breathing issues due to shorter airways and elongated soft palates. These factors can also put them at a higher risk of choking on ice.
  • Dogs with dental disease or those that don’t get routine dental care can be at a higher risk of tooth damage from chewing on ice.
  • Young puppies and senior dogs can have weak or sensitive teeth, a higher risk of dental damage from chewing on ice, and a higher risk of choking.
  • Voracious chewers that tend to break things or scarf down treats quickly might be at an increased risk of breaking a tooth on ice or swallowing ice cubes whole, which can lead to choking.

Since every dog can be different, it’s important to assess your dog’s risks and take steps to minimize them. For example, a large dog with big, strong teeth, like a German shepherd or American Staffordshire terrier, can probably power through a few ice cubes without a problem, given they don’t have any other risk factors. But a toy poodle or Maltese with smaller, more sensitive teeth and a smaller mouth might choke or break a tooth on ice cubes.

Are there any benefits of ice for dogs?

Ice can be a refreshing treat for dogs, for those that can safely enjoy it. Frozen treats, like “Pupsicles,” frozen broth licks, or bits of frozen fruit like watermelon, in small pieces, with seeds removed, can also be a fun enrichment activity.

Ice shavings or chips are sometimes used to aid in hydration in dogs that are ill, recovering from surgery, or not drinking enough water, but this is done under the direction and supervision of a veterinarian. Dogs should always have access to fresh water to prevent dehydration, regardless of ice consumption, unless otherwise directed by their veterinarian.

How to safely offer ice to your dog

If your dog loves ice cubes but you want to minimize the risk of choking or dental injuries, try giving a little bit of crushed or shaved ice instead, and monitor them closely. Letting the ice slightly melt before giving it to your dog is also a good idea. For an even safer option, try an alternative form of frozen treats for dogs.

Alternatives to ice cubes for dogs

Whether you want to avoid a potential choking hazard or dental injury from ice cubes or are just looking for a longer-lasting, more enriching frozen treat — there are plenty of options for safe frozen treats for dogs.

  • Frozen Kong. Known as the quintessential enrichment toy, Kongs can be used in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular is filling them with pet-safe peanut butter, pumpkin puree, or other creamy treats and freezing them. This provides a long-lasting frozen treat with minimal risk of choking or tooth damage. Be sure to buy the appropriate-sized Kong for your dog.
  • Pupsicle. A safer way to indulge your dog’s love of ice, the Pupsicle toy allows your dog to have ice safely by licking it through a specialized barrier of flexible rubber. The toy comes with special ice molds to freeze water, dog-safe broth, or other liquid treats.
  • Lick mat. Similar to other interactive toys, lick mats allow you to freeze your dog’s favorite treat like peanut butter, broth, canned food, or pureed fruit (only use pet-safe options) and let them lick it off. Most mats come with suction cups on the bottom to easily adhere to surfaces.
  • Dog ice cream. Be sure to buy brands specifically made for dogs, like Frosty Paws. Don’t give human ice cream brands, as these can have too much sugar and toxic ingredients, like chocolate, and/or cause gastrointestinal upset.
  • DIY frozen treats. Pet retailers sell many different freezer molds and dog-safe recipes for some DIY frozen treats and ice licks. Be sure to only use recipes from reputable sources, like the American Kennel Club, or consult your vet.

When incorporating frozen dog treats into your dog’s routine, be sure to only use dog-safe products or ingredients, treat in moderation, and always monitor your dog with toys. Remove any items your dog breaks and discontinue feeding anything that upsets your dog’s stomach.

The bottom line on ice for dogs

Overall, it’s a good idea to look at ice in the same way as chew toys and treats — it might be okay for some dogs but not for others, and moderation and supervision are vital. Always evaluate your dog’s risk factors for choking or dental injury, minimize risks by using crushed ice or alternative frozen treats, and talk to your vet about your dog’s “frosty” habits. Lastly, if you're going to give your dog ice, frozen treats, or anything else to chew on, pet insurance with dental injury coverage is never a bad idea.


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