Does your dog chomp on ice cubes? Isn't it strange how dogs like eating ice? Crunch, crunch, crunch. Some dogs can chew their way through several without batting an eyelid even though it might set your teeth on edge and give you goosebumps just thinking about the cold against their teeth. While you're literally cringing he's wagging his tail and waiting for another. Or is your dog one who prefers his ice au natural? When you take him for a walk on a winter's morning will he stop and eat the shards of broken ice from a frozen over puddle? Defies reason, doesn't it? So why do dogs like eating ice?
The Root of the Behavior
A dog's auditory senses are very acute. If the sound of him crunching on an ice cube sends shivers down your spine, to him the noise is pure entertainment. Dogs love to rasp their teeth against something. You've probably noticed he does it with a bone too. He'll gnaw away at it making scraping noises while he appears entranced, almost hypnotised by the whole process. It's a great form of canine amusement, it's keeping him occupied and stopping him from being bored. A dog's curiosity is ten-fold and they love to learn or investigate the unknown. But they've, as yet, to gain an understanding of chemistry or physics. So give a dog an ice cube and it becomes not only a thirst quencher, but a toy and for as long as it lasts, which probably won't be very long if he's got hot breath, it's fun. Guaranteed he won't be questioning why the block of H2O has converted itself from solid to liquid even if you’ve named him Einstein. Just imagine for a moment it's a hot summer's day. You're a hairy ball of fluff with four paws whose been for an extended run in the park because his owner enjoys getting some rays of sunshine. You're panting, your tongue feels like a strip of dried out beef jerky, how are you going to cool down quick. When your owner opens that refrigerator door, you're going to be there, eyes on the ice box and hoping they're going to get the message. Right? Dogs don't have the same heat tolerance levels as humans. That's why, when the weather is hot, they'll go and lay in the shade. Your dog instinctively knows chewing on an ice cube will help him cool down quicker and as it melts away in his mouth, the subsequent watery trickle will help rehydrate him.
Encouraging the Behavior
While it is normal for a dog to like eating ice, you may want to consider that as your dog gets older, his teeth may not be as strong as they used to be and just like us they can develop sensitivity. What was once a pleasurable experience crunching ice cubes could turn into an unpleasant shock. Older dog's teeth get weaker too and chewing on something as hard as an ice cube could mean he'll cause himself some dental damage. Giving your dog ice when you know where it comes from is fine as long as he enjoys it and doesn't have too much. If he likes to eat ice from outside, you need to be sure it hasn't been contaminated by any chemical toxins such as weed killer, lawn nitrates or any car cleaning products which have inadvertently got sprayed around. Ingesting infected ice can make your dog sick so the best thing to do is reserve it for a treat that you give him straight from the freezer. Eating ice can be beneficial to your pet if he's been ill or had an operation. It'll help him rehydrate slowly rather than filling his stomach full of water which he may later vomit. Licking ice will also help keep his temperature down if he's been suffering from a fever.
Other Solutions and Considerations
All dogs enjoy a challenge. You can freeze his favorite treat inside an ice cube or ice ball and let him have a prolonged session of canine diversion. He'll be a happy puppy as he passes the afternoon trying to get the desired delicacy out of its casing of ice and if the weather is warm he'll enjoy it even more. If you've been out for a walk and you're worried your dog might have eaten some ice which has been affected by chemicals, you'll need to consult a vet as soon as possible to ensure he doesn't suffer any ill effects from accidental poisoning.
Dogs like eating ice. They also like licking ice, they love chasing it around the floor even though they get confused when it disappears as they've no scientific comprehension of what melting is all about. It's all a good game for them and a momentary, but sadly not lasting, diversion in the life of our canine friends.