Does your dog like ice? Is he one of those dogs who find ice entertaining as well as thirst quenching? Have you found you can give him a cube of ice and after he's spent ten minutes chasing it around the tiles on the kitchen floor, he stares at it nonplussed as its converted back to water and he can't work out where his plaything’s gone? Have you got a dog who can cheerfully crunch his way through several cubes without flinching? There are people like that too. Yes, that certain friend without sensitive teeth who flips an ice cube into their mouth and chomps on it while everyone else cringes? Sometimes it seems that human and canine behavior is really not that different.
So what is it about frozen water that gets dogs drooling?
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs enjoy the diversity of the seasons as much as we do. In fact they're much more in tune to the weather than we are because dogs are in essence outdoor animals. If they were still creatures of the wild they would encounter ice in their natural environment in the winter months when their water supplies froze over. To fulfil their most basic need for survival, they would have to lick at the ice when no water was available. When it's blazing hot the first thing we do is look for something cool to drink. A dog will do that too. The cooler the better. There's nothing worse than drinking lukewarm water on a summer's day and your dog doesn't enjoy it much either. If his water bowls got a little heated, he'll be more than happy to lick a nice cold ice cube instead.
A dog's mouth and tongue are super sensitive. Apart from their noses, via their tongue is one way they experience things. Ice cubes offer a variation to the daily norm as far as sensations go and they enjoy feeling something different. Which is great as long as they don't get too numbed and find themselves with a bad dose of brain freeze. Most dogs know instinctively what is good for them. Yes, that's something which is hard to believe on occasion particularly when they've done something like upturn the trash can and consumed half the contents. But when the weather's hot and your dog is feeling a bit overheated, he knows what to do to help cool himself down. Other than laying in the shade and panting, which is one way he can rid himself of excess body temperature, if he has access to an ice cube then he'll be more than content to lick away at it to aid him in chilling out.
Encouraging the Behavior
The fact that dogs like ice can be a good thing. If you've been out for a walk on a really hot day, it's not good for your dog to gulp down lots of water all at once. Offering him an ice cube to lick, instead of direct access to his water bowl, will give his body a chance to cool down while still satiating his need to drink. If your dog has been unwell with a stomach upset or been under anaesthetic because he's had surgery, letting him lick away at an ice cube will not only prevent any choking problems from the water going the wrong way, but will make sure he stays properly hydrated until he's well enough to drink from his bowl again. If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, maybe he's taken that laying on his back in the sun session trying to tan his belly a bit too far, it's not a good idea to give him ice until he's temperature has returned to normal. If you're worried that your dog might have heatstroke, you should consult a vet as as soon as possible as it could have life-threatening consequences for your pup.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Instead of giving your dog a normal ice cube which he can chew on easily, you might want to consider getting him a special ice ball which you can freeze and then hang it where he can reach up to lick it. If he's a serial cube chomper, it'll stop him crunching them up, but he'll still have the benefit of being pleasantly refreshed. Eating ice cubes has been rumored to cause stomach bloating in dogs, but there is no specific medical proof that this is the case. If it's something which concerns you or you feel your dog might be suffering from this serious condition, don't delay in consulting your vet.
It's normal for dogs to like ice and it isn't bad for them as long as they have it in moderation. Licking ice is a great way to cool down when it's hot and your dog will probably be pretty happy doing it. Why not make him his own personal version of a popsicle and make his chilly treat even more special.