The weather is hard enough to cope with for us humans, but for pets, it can be even tougher.

There are lots of things you can do to help your furry friends, like early morning walks and cooling mats.

But one that has proven to be surprisingly controversial is giving your dogs ice cubes to eat.

You might have seen some viral posts going around on social media, claiming that the canine anterior hypothalamus is triggered to warm up the body because it recognises something cold, causing the temperature to rise.

Other posts suggest ice cubes can cause bloating in dogs.

The posts have been circulating for years but with the temperatures soaring again, vets and animal charities are reassuring owners that it’s usually fine to give your dog some ice to help in a heatwave.

Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now said: ‘The post on Facebook from an anonymous vet about the connection between hypothalamus and ice leading to dogs dying is pseudoscience and not backed by any clinical or scientific evidence. The post was suitably debunked a few years ago on fact-check sites.  

‘On a hot day, if you are at home or out in the garden, a good way to help your dog cool down would be to add ice cubes to his water, freeze his water bowl before putting water in it, or freeze one of his favourite chew toys.’

Blue Cross explains that as long as your dog is healthy and is just struggling with the impact of a hot day, ice cubes are fine as long as you consider a few things.

The size of the cube needs to be appropriate – a small dog or one that wolfs down food may choke on one that is too big, for example, and it is better to use smaller cubes or ice shavings in that case.

Dave adds: ‘The only significant risks we can see from your dog eating ice is from possible damage to the teeth because of chewing on hard ice but the risk of that is low.’

However, if your pet is showing any signs of heatstroke, you should avoid ice altogether, as that is when it could be dangerous.

Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessively drooling
  • The dog appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
  • Collapsed or vomiting

Blue Cross suggestions for some other icy treats

  • Try filling a bowl with some low-salt stock scattered with a few treats and freeze it 
  • Frozen carrots or apple slices are cold, healthy snacks.
  • Cover your pet in a cold (not freezing towel)
  • have a bottle of cold water handy – which can be used to mist a dog occasionally but take things slowly and gently. Try the first few squirts away from your dog to check their reaction, as some dogs can find the sound of the pump or the sensation of the spray scary.

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