Have you ever been tempted to give your dog ice water when it’s hot outside? It’s been rumored that it can be extremely dangerous to give your dog ice water – or even some ice cubes – because it allegedly causes a life-threatening condition known as bloat. The fact of the matter is, giving your dog ice water or ice cubes in itself, will not cause any life-threatening conditions. The most important thing to pay attention to when you give your dog ice water is how much water there is, and how fast they consume it.
Debunking myths like these are important for dog owners to make sure the overall health of your dog is maintained no matter what the weather. The professional dog trainers at Bed and Biscuit of Austin have set out to bring you the cold hard facts this time about health risks for dogs, during especially hot days.
So, where did this myth come from? And what actually causes bloat? Dr. Randall Carpenter, D.V.M. of Friends and Family Veterinary Hospital explains this clearly:
“If the dog is overheated and dehydrated, and desperate for fluids and they consume huge, huge amounts of ice cubes or water all at one time, it could create a situation where the dog could bloat. But that’s true for large amounts of any temperature water.“
Giving your dog ice water – or ice cubes – on those steamy hot days is good thing! Many pet owners have even invested in those adorable paw or bone shaped ice cube trays. Just use your head and be astute to your dog’s behaviors, as well as the environment. The key is moderation and not waiting until your dog becomes overheated or distressed.
How to Keep Dogs Cool in Intense Heat
Here in Austin Texas, staying cool can be a challenge more often than not. Lounging poolside, hanging out at the pet friendly local swimming hole or retreating to the indoor air conditioning is a common occurrence. But what about Fido?
Keeping your dog cool, hydrated and low-key during hot days and evenings should be just as important. Heat stroke is a serious condition. These preventative measures should help keep your dog from succumbing to heat stroke. Here are some helpful tips to keep your dog cool & healthy this summer.
Provide a kiddie pool outdoors
Dogs regulate their temperature through their tongue and paw pads. Periodically, getting their feet wet or laying in a kiddie pool can help.
Wipe your dog’s body down with wet towels
This aids in keeping them cool, soothes and lowers temperature at a slow, safe rate.
Provide shade sources
Trees or a well ventilated dog house if your pup is outdoors. If you have a doggie door, be sure the opening is kept clear and without snags.
Avoid the pavement, which can heat up dramatically on hot days
Avoid scorching hot asphalt/concrete burns on paws. In addition, asphalt tends to amplify the heat of the sun. Rather, walk on the grass to help keep their his body temperature under control.
Keep your dog indoors during peak heat hours between noon to 4:30 pm
Get your dog’s wiggles out early in the morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are cooler or try our Doggie Day Care.
Maintain access to plenty of fresh, clean water at all times indoor or in a shaded area
Consider an automatic waterer and keep a close eye on the water level.
Bring cool, fresh water for your dog wherever you go
Whether you’re boating, swimming, picnicking or just out for a walk – having cool water on hand can keep your dog hydrated.
Signs of Overheating
A dog’s normal body temperature at a relaxed state runs 100.5 – 102.5℉. While there is no specific outdoor temperature; your dog can succumb to heat exhaustion or heat stroke through exercise, sitting in a parked car, basking in the sun or playing at the park. Failing to properly monitor and give ample shade, water and rest can land your pet in hot water – FAST.
Even though it’s tempting to take your pooch out for a car ride, you should never leave your dog in a parked car unattended. Temperatures can quickly rise as much as 34℉ per minute even parked in the shade with a window rolled down.
According to Dr. Karen Becker D.V.M. of Mercola’s Healthy Pets, heat stroke occurs when the rectal temperature of a dog reaches a 109℉, while other veterinarians caution the internal temperature can be as low as 106℉. You should familiarize yourself with these warning signs and be prepared to act immediately should overheating begin to occur.
- Rapid, heavy panting
- Excessive salivation
- Elevated body temperature
- Weakness or collapse
- Bloody diarrhea
- ‘Drunken’ walking
- Glazed look in their eyes
- Bright red tongue
- Pale gums becoming darker as overheating worsens
Dogs More Susceptible to Heat Stroke
Just as skin tones in humans are more susceptible to sunburn, certain dogs are prone to overheating and heat stroke. Various contributing factors can include the type of breed, age, health condition and size.
Short or flat-nosed breeds typically have smooshed in faces with a broader head structure and suffer from a condition called, ‘Brachycephalic’. Anomalies of elongated soft palates within the throat and narrowed nostril passages make them a candidate for respiratory distress and overheating. These breeds include:
- Boston Terriers
- French Bulldogs
- English Bulldogs
- Shih Tzu
Giant and Double Coated breeds also tend not to fare well in the heat due to their size, structure and inability to release body heat fast enough through the normal channels. Some examples of these breeds would include – but are not limited to: Great Danes, Mastiffs, Pyrenees, Cane Corso, St. Bernards, Akita’s, Chow Chows and many more.
In addition, high energy working breed dogs are a magnet for heat exhaustion. Geriatric, obese dogs or dogs that suffer from health conditions like Laryngeal Paralysis, are especially prone to heat stroke, and should always avoid situations that could endanger their well being.
Treating Heat Stroke
It’s a common misconception that if your dog suffers from heat stroke, you need to cool them down as quickly as possible, even if it means using ice or ice water. Dog owners may resort to placing ice packs around their dog and covering them with ice water.
When in fact, using ice in these circumstances is dangerous – as cold or ice water can make your dog’s blood vessels constrict, slowing how quickly their body can cool itself. Equally, concerning is their desperate attempt to rehydrate quickly by guzzling water – leading to bloat.
In effect, water too cold actually keeps your dog hot longer. Rather, run cool water over your dog’s body. According to Dr. Faught of Firehouse Animal Health Center, cool water, a cool bath, and a fan are effective methods for cooling your dog. Dr. Faught states “the practice will often run IV fluids and cool the fluid lines, which is very effective.”
The Bottom Line
Giving your dog ice water and ice cubes is perfectly acceptable to keep them cool during the heat of the day providing:
- Your pet is not suffering from signs of overheating and/or heat stroke
- Consumption is monitored/regulated to prevent guzzling/over indulgence
Overheating and heat stroke are always preventable with some common sense and by taking proper precautions. Whether your dog is kept indoors or outdoors, make sure they have ample ways to cool off in the warm months.
If you suspect a dog is suffering from heat stroke, don’t wait. Immediately take your pet to a veterinarian. If the pet is not yours and has been left unattended, notify the authorities right away and stay with the animal.