UT veterinarian dispels rumor

Dog for CVM article

Dr. Adesola Odunayo, a board-certified specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville, says it's okay to give your dogs ice or ice water, but don't let them drink too much at once. Photo by P. McDaniels.

A story is being circulated on several social media websites about the dangers of giving dogs ice and ice water. The story claims that giving a dog ice water may cause the animal to die from bloat and spasm. A faculty member with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine says this claim is false and not based on scientific evidence.

“Many scientific studies have been done evaluating bloat or gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) in dogs. GDV is an acute, life-threatening condition that primarily affects large dogs," said Dr. Adesola Odunayo, a board-certified specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville. “There are many factors that have been associated with bloat, including genetics, feeding large amounts of food, anxiety and eating too quickly, but there has never been an association between ice water and bloat.” 

Dr. Odunayo goes on to point out that many dogs live outside in cold climates and drink icy water due to frozen water bowls. These dogs do not have an increased incidence of bloat relative to dogs that drink room temperature water.

Dr. Odunayo says bloat is best prevented by not allowing your dog to drink large amounts of water quickly, regardless of the water’s temperature. “Dogs should be fed small amounts of food more frequently and should not be allowed to exercise right before or right after a meal.” The veterinarian added that it is especially important, now that outside temperatures are beginning to rise, that dogs are provided plenty of fresh water to keep them from overheating.

“It is perfectly acceptable to put some ice in the water as some dogs actually prefer cool water in the summer and are more likely to drink. If there is concern that your dog may be overheated, as may happen after exercise, cool your dog down with tepid tap water,” said Dr. Odunayo.

The veterinarian also notes that ice water should not be applied directly on the skin to cool an overheated dog as it may actually prevent heat from dissipating. “See a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog may have been overheated, as heat stress can be fatal in dogs,” Dr. Odunayo recommended.

One of 28 accredited veterinary colleges in the United States, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine educates students in the art and science of veterinary medicine and related biomedical sciences, promotes scientific research and enhances human and animal well-being.

In addition to the programs of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the UT Institute of Agriculture also provides instruction, research and public service through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT AgResearch system of 10 research and education centers and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.



Sandra Harbison, Media Relations, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, sharbiso@utk.edu


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