I see a lot of conflicting advice online.

I have a 2-year-old, 66 lb. boxer-ridgeback (probably, we're not sure), that, at some point was given an ice cube and loved it. Whenever I make a smoothie, she hears the sound of the freezer door opening and comes running for an ice cube. This is several times a week, but never more than one ice cube each time.

Any compelling evidence that I should stop?

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    "I see a lot of conflicting advice online" - said every person ever looking for advice online.
    – corsiKa
    Jun 18 '14 at 19:09
  • Remember to wet the ithe cube tho it doethn't freethe to your dog'th tongue. Jun 19 '14 at 9:28
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    We've been giving our dogs ice cubes for over 30 years. Don't plan to stop. Jun 19 '14 at 14:47
  • Weird, I always heard that the problem with ice is chewing, it's not good for the teeth. Don't know if it's true.
    – LG1
    Jun 25 '14 at 21:19

I have never heard this before and can't find any reliable information to back it up, nor does it make any sense.

I could find no vet on record as saying that it could cause a problem. Multiple sites dedicated to investigating such kinds of claims found it to also be false (notably Snopes and Hoax Slayer.) There is simply no verifiable or reliable evidence that ice water causes bloat.

Bloat is a real condition and drinking too fast is a possible cause, so the closest it could come would be if your dog drank faster because the water was colder, it could potentially be problematic, but not directly due to being ice water or ice cubes.

  • The Facebook post mentioned on Snopes is exactly what led me here to ask this question. Lacking "Facebook" and "bloat" from my search terms however, I didn't come across that article. Thanks! Jun 18 '14 at 18:36
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    I recognized your handle from security.se, but didn't know you were in Troy, NY. I went to RPI :-) Jun 18 '14 at 18:37
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    @AndrewCheong - nice, I'm an RPI alumni as well. 2006 CS/EMAC. Jun 18 '14 at 18:42

In winter or spring (and in some places, all year), there is very little difference between the temperature of an ice cube and the temperature of water flowing in a stream or river or standing in a puddle, both of which water sources dogs and people presumably evolved to use. Humans and dogs generate a lot of heat internally that soon melts the ice and warms the resulting water to the animal's body temperature. Dogs have very sensitive mouths, perhaps the dog likes the feel of the ice in its mouth. It may be crunching the ice it enjoys; I had a dog that loved to crunch up plastic bottles - it did not eat them, it just loved the sounds and the feel in its mouth. In short, I cannot say 100% that eating the ice causes no harm, but for the reasons I state, I think it is safe.

  • Though the temperature of water at 1 degree is only 1 degree hotter than ice, the energy contained in that 1 degree (or rather, the energy needed to melt the ice) is huge. It is that transfer of a huge amount of energy that is damaging to animal tissue, this is why we don't put ice on burns. Note, also, that ice from the freezer is generally -18 degrees (home freezer) or -36 degrees (commercial freezer).
    – dotancohen
    Jun 19 '14 at 5:49
  • The temperature difference between an ice cube and a river, stream or puddle is huge. Although the freezing point of water is 0C (32F), your freezer is very much colder than that: somewhere in the range of -15C to -25C (5F to -13F). An ice cube is not at freezing point, just as your dog's stainless steel water bowl isn't at its freezing point (1500C/2700F). Jun 19 '14 at 9:27
  • @dotancohen I strongly disagree with the energy contained in that 1 degree (...) is huge. We eat ~2000 kcal per day. A cal is the energy needed to heat one gram of water by 1 degree. Rough calculations: if we say that an ice cube has maybe 15grams or less, and needs to be heated from -15 to 37 = 52degrees, 15g*52deg*1=780cal. If 100g of meat have ~250kcal, 1g has ~2.5kcal; then to offset an icecube you can give the dog .3g of meat.
    – ANeves
    Jun 19 '14 at 11:26
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    I am not referring to the amount of energy that the extra heat adds to the dog's metabolism, I am referring to the amount of energy that the ice draws from the mouth's tissues. This draw is potentially dangerous, and it is the reason that we don't put ice on wounds.
    – dotancohen
    Jun 19 '14 at 12:46
  • @ANeves 1cal is the energy needed to heat 1g of liquid water by 1C, but to melt ice you also have to supply the heat of fusion, which is an additional 80 cal/g. That said, I don't think that would hurt a dog, either.
    – zwol
    Jan 20 '15 at 23:23

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