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Is Ice Water Deadly For Dogs?

You may have seen the email chain that went viral recently, warning dog owners that ice water—or even very cold water—is deadly to dogs when ingested. Is it true? The BullShooters had no choice but to investigate.

The Myth
Drinking ice water will kill your bird dog (or any dog).

The Background
You may have seen the email chain that went viral recently, warning dog owners that ice water—or even very cold water—is deadly to dogs when ingested. The long-winded email states that ice water administered to a dog on a hot day can cause the dog’s stomach to bloat and can kill your furry friend.

My BullShooter detection apparatus went into high alert. After all, I’ve given my bird dogs ice water on many occasions in the Texas heat, yet they’ve never croaked. In fact, they seemed to relish a cool swig of aqua on a hot day, just like I do. Nonetheless, I consulted an expert.

The Expert Deferral
Ashley Tharp is a veterinarian at Four Paws Animal Hospital in Johns Creek, near Atlanta, Ga.

“It sounds like the email is suggesting that cold water can cause Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) in dogs, or twisting of the stomach. But I’ve never seen a dog suffer GDV after consuming ice water, nor have I seen any evidence supporting that theory,” Tharp said. “So, no, this warning isn’t true.”

The Test
This one was easy enough to test. All we needed was a dog (check); some ice water (check), and a hot day (check.) Because I didn't want to risk my new squirrel dog puppy, I convinced AmericanHunter.org's "Dogs, Shotguns and Other Vices" blogger and bird dog trainer Kyle Wintersteen to administer the test on his beloved springer spaniels.

He reported that they did not die, and in fact seemed quite happy afterward.

"If this myth were true, then every teething puppy I owned would be dead," Wintersteen said.

You can watch the test in the video embedded below:

The Answer
The theory that ice water will kill your dog is hot air. So drink away, little doggie, and pay no mind to crazy Internet talk.

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9 Responses to Is Ice Water Deadly For Dogs?

KEVIN D wrote:
August 05, 2014

Explain that one to 'frosty paws' ice cream for dogs company. my dogs love it and ice cubes. If its too hot and you work that dog to a sweat, dont shock him. Rehydrate and then a cool swim. Use common sense, the animal needs some guidance.

vishnu wrote:
August 05, 2014

I suppose that a breed that is prone to GDV might be at greater risk, such as Irish Setters.

clark e myers wrote:
August 05, 2014

Mean lethal dose of distilled water - temperature irrelevant - is 5 gallons. 5 gallons at once dilutes the blood changes the blood chemistry and kills - usually happens with hydrating marathon runners and other such who force water. In horses it may be delayed drinking because the water is too cold. '. Water Founder When an overheated horse drinks water, in is very likely to come down with colic, but some horses may get founder instead. If water is frozen over or very cold, a horse may not drink until its thirst becomes almost unbearable. Then, the horse may break the ice and suddenly consume sever gallons of cold water. This is very likely to cause colic and/or founder. ' Keeping dogs hydrated with cold water the thing that matters is the constant regular hydration.

Rick wrote:
August 04, 2014

I have a Golden Retriever and she throws up when she eats ice cubes, what would cause this?. Doesn't have a problem drinking cold water.

Kyle Wintersteen wrote:
July 25, 2014

@Jeremy I'm sorry for your roommate's loss. I don't have all the details of the incident, but I'm certain the dog's health issues did not result from drinking cold water in relation to his body temperature or otherwise. However, you also note that the dog drank 'a ton of water'--now that could've raised the risk of GDV, especially if it was immediately followed by further heavy exercise. There is evidence that providing a dog with a highly excessive amount of water or a very large meal can raise the risk of GDV--a condition in which the spleen twists around the digestive tract, carrying the stomach with it. It's the heavy volume of consumption that poses a risk, not the temperature of the food or water. Drinking ice or ice water is simply not going to cause GDV.

W. Porter wrote:
July 25, 2014

While the statement that 'icewater will kill your dog' is blatant BS, dogs and humans both benefit more from driking cool to body temp water rather than ice cold.

ERNEST ORTENBURG wrote:
July 24, 2014

Our daughter and family have 5 dogs of different types. They have given them ice cubes for years. NO problems!!

Jeremy wrote:
July 24, 2014

Actually, it can and does happen. It depends on the difference between the body temperature of the dog and the water itself. A dog just hanging out or playing on a hot day isn't going to be harmed by some ice water. However, a working dog working HARD in the summer heat who jumps into a river and swallows a ton of water (even summer river water) can experience GDV. My Army barracks roommate (currently a NY State Trooper) had this happen to his dog in that same type of scenario.

Jim Butterfield wrote:
July 24, 2014

I've heard this same claim made about people on a hot day.