Is it safe? Vet Tony Buckwell offers some key advice.
The temperature is soaring and your faithful gundogs are lying in the shade, panting heavily. It’s tempting to think there would be nothing kinder than to put some ice cubes in your gundog’s water bowl – but should dogs drink ice cold water? Is it safe or can it cause health problems?
If dogs drink ice-cold water can they get dangerous bloat?
Q: I have heard that I should not allow my dog to drink iced water in hot weather because it causes bloat. Can you tell me if this is true? If not, can I safely give my dog iced water?
A: As far as I am aware there is no real evidence to suggest that allowing dogs to drink iced water will cause them to develop bloat. Bloat – the correct term is gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome, or GDV – is a nasty condition which starts when the stomach fills with gas and fluid then rotates, effectively preventing emptying.
Drinking too quickly
Any problems are much more likely to be the result of a thirsty dog ingesting too much water too quickly, thereby swallowing a significant amount of air, which unbalances the stomach and predisposes it to twisting over upon itself, causing bloat.
Allowing your dog to drink too much water too quickly will usually cause the dog simply to vomit it back up, but if it doesn’t then bloat can become a real concern, particularly in deep-chested breeds, such as setters, that tend to be more prone to developing GDV.
Drinking iced water might also be painful for the dog. Think what often happens when you drink iced water too quickly on a hot day. What should be a cooling drink more often than not leads to pain and discomfort; the same may well happen to your dog.
Another concern is that exposure to cold causes vasoconstriction — a narrowing of blood vessels in the region exposed. So it is reasonable to assume that drinking iced water would cause vasoconstriction of blood vessels in the tongue, lips and gums. This is counterproductive when a dog is trying to cool down, since it will decrease or inhibit heat exchange between the superficial blood vessels in the mouth and the expired air, which is essential if the dog is to lose heat by panting.
So it’s best not to let dogs drink ice-cold water
So, on balance, I’d say that allowing dogs to drink ice-cold water is probably not to be recommended.