Ice cubes will not cause healthy dogs to overheat on hot days

19 July 2022
What was claimed

Giving ice cubes to dogs during hot weather will actually cause them to overheat.

Our verdict

Although dogs suffering from heatstroke should not be given ice, it is perfectly safe for healthy dogs.

Record temperatures in the UK have prompted a surge in the number of social media posts claiming that it is dangerous to give dogs ice cubes to cool them down during the hot weather. 

Multiple posts on Facebook that have been shared thousands of times in recent days feature identical text claiming to be from a vet who recently experienced the death of a dog.

The post says: “Please do not give your dogs ice cubes or other frozen items in the heat to cool them down! Ice cubes do not cool dogs down!” 

The post goes on to claim that giving ice cubes to dogs causes them to heat up as “the canine anterior hypothalamus is triggered to warm up the body because it recognises something icy cold has been absorbed”. The anterior hypothalamus is a part of the brain that controls the body’s temperature regulation, among other things. 

This claim is not true. According to The Kennel Club: “For years, rumours have been circulating on social media that giving ice to a dog can trick their bodies into actually warming up, increasing the risk of heatstroke. 

“This is not true and has been debunked by vets. Giving ice cubes, cold water or frozen treats is a useful way of helping dogs to stay cool on hot days.”

Animal rescue centre Battersea, previously known as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, features a recipe for dog-friendly ice lollies on its site, saying: "Not only will your dog absolutely love them, but they’re also a great way to help keep them cool on a hot day."

Animal welfare charity Blue Cross says: “If your dog is healthy and just feeling warm on a hot day, you can give them ice cubes. 

“The ice cubes need to be an appropriate size for your dog, for example a small dog can’t be given a large ice cube as they can pose a choking risk.”

The RSPCA includes making frozen treats or adding ice cubes to a dog’s water bowl among its list of tips for caring for pets during the summer. 

Such posts have been in circulation for many years and have previously been covered by Full Fact and other fact checking sites. They typically reappear during periods of hot weather. 

The Blue Cross and other organisations warn that dogs showing signs of heatstroke, which include excessive panting or drooling, vomiting or collapsing, should not be given ice. Instead, they should be cooled down gradually and veterinary advice sought immediately as the condition can be life threatening. 

Photo credit: Justin Veneema

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