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Know Your Dog: Ice Water Rumor Melts Under Scrutiny

Ice water is not likely to cause harmful stomach bloating in dogs.

(Credit: Scott Beckner; flickr.com/photos/piratescott/481799148)
(Credit: Scott Beckner; flickr.com/photos/piratescott/481799148)

Despite the message of a well-meaning warning, veterinarians say ice water is unlikely to harm your dog.

Posts on social media this week have been spreading the story of a woman whose prized pet allegedly got sick when she gave him ice water to cool off. The tall tale says ice water caused the dog’s stomach muscles to spasm, resulting in bloating. The story appeared on Wendt Worth Corgi’s Weblog in 2010, according to ABC News.

Snopes.com, a myth-busting website, found an email version of the story from July 2010, but it says the claim is false.

The real danger comes from eating too quickly, which can lead to gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

“[GDV] causes the stomach to dilate, because of food and gas, and may get to a point where neither may be expelled,” according to the ACVS. “As the stomach begins to dilate and expand, the pressure in the stomach begins to increase. The increased pressure and size of the stomach may have several severe consequences.”

Randall Carpenter, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Family Friends Veterinary Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, told Fox 17 that he’s seen the Internet post since 2007. He said if a dog is drinking too much, bloat can happen regardless of water temperature.

Audrey Harvey, a veterinarian with more than 20 years of experience in small animal practice, said in a 2010 post that feeding dogs several smaller meals every day, instead of the standard one or two large meals, can help prevent bloat. She also advised not letting dogs drink a lot of water at once, and she said owners should wait about an hour to feed dogs after exercise.

Pet owners are encouraged to consult their veterinarians with individual questions and pet concerns.

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