A Jack Russell Terrier licking an ice cube.

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cubes?

It happened again; you pressed your glass against the refrigerator door to get some water and accidentally hit the ice maker. Before you could stop it, ice cubes tumbled out and hit the floor, flying all over your kitchen. Your pup heard the commotion and came bounding into the room to chase and chomp on as many ice cubes as possible.

If you’re like many pet parents, you might wonder, “Are ice cubes safe for my dog?”

It turns out that there are many myths concerning ice cubes and dogs, one of which is that they’re dangerous for pups. That may seem a bit confusing, since ice cubes are nothing more than frozen water.

However, in some instances, ice cubes can be bad for dogs. We’ll explain in greater detail in a moment, but first, let’s answer the most important question: when can dogs eat ice cubes?

You know dogs need to stay hydrated, so it makes sense that if your pup likes chomping on ice cubes, it couldn’t hurt to let them have one or two on occasion. I’ve known pet parents who offer small ice cubes as treats for their pups. You’ve also got to admit, in today’s age of overweight dogs, a calorie-free treat seems like a no-brainer.

Fortunately, in most cases, ice cubes are harmless for dogs.

When Can Dogs Eat Ice Cubes?

In general, healthy dogs can eat ice cubes anytime. You can put them in their water bowl to cool the water down on a warm day or let them scoot them around on the floor and chew as desired.

However, you want to make sure the ice cubes aren’t large enough to pose a choking risk. If you have a small dog, that may mean scooping up bigger cubes if they tumble onto the floor. It’s safest to only let your pup have small ice cubes or small fragments of bigger cubes. No one wants their dog to have a choking fit!

If you have a puppy that’s teething, they may appreciate the cooling sensation of chewing on ice cubes, since they bring relief to sore gums. After all, when your puppy starts teething, their gums are red and inflamed. They’re already chewing on things to relieve the pain, so something cold can definitely help.

Overall, ice cubes are just frozen water and will melt within a few minutes. Just make sure they’re small enough for your puppy’s mouth.

When Are Ice Cubes Dangerous for Dogs?

However, if your dog is prone to gobble down food, ice cubes could present a choking hazard. In such cases, give your dog tiny pieces or don’t give any ice at all.

Additionally, if your dog has dental problems, don’t feed them ice because it could break their teeth.

Ice cubes can also be dangerous on steamy, hot days when your dog is overheated. Imagine your pups been outside chasing a ball or doing other doggie things, and there’s a heat advisory in effect. This is when ice cubes could pose a danger.

Veterinarians say that if your dog is at risk of heat stroke, you want to cool down your dog in stages. For example, you can get your dog into the shade or air conditioning and give cool water to drink. However, you want to monitor your dog’s temperature and bring it down steadily. You don’t want to shock the system, which is why veterinarians don’t recommend ice in extreme heat. However, you can use a hose to cool your dog off.

Suppose your dog is panting heavily and/or seems unsteady on their feet. In that case, you’ll want to call your veterinarian, as these are symptoms of heatstroke, which can be extremely dangerous.

There’s a popular myth floating around the internet that eating ice cubes causes bloat in dogs. Often related to trapped gas from drinking or overeating, dog bloat can twist the stomach and may require surgical correction. If your dog gulps everything down as fast as possible, this could lead to stomach bloat. Yet, there’s no evidence that ice cubes cause this condition.

Instead, if you have a fast eater and drinker, refrain from giving them ice cubes and monitor their eating in general.

Ice Cube Treats for Dogs

If you want to get creative and expand your treat repertoire, you could freeze chicken broth in ice cube trays for your pup. You can even buy cute ice cube trays that make fun shapes. Or, if you want to stay away from ice cubes but cool your pupper down on a hot day, you could wet a cloth (washcloth, dish towel, kerchief) and freeze it in a Ziploc bag. Then, you’ll have a cooling cloth to wrap around your dog’s neck (or for chewing.)

In most cases, healthy dogs can chew ice cubes with no problem. Of course, you’ll want to be around when they eat them in case of emergency.