Can I give my dog ice cubes? How to make ice lollies and cool treats for your pet - and heatstroke advice

There is a range of frozen treats you can give your pet

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Frozen treats are a great way to keep your dog cool on a summer’s day, but what treats are safe?

As the UK faces its hottest and driest summer in decades, here are some cool treat ideas your pet can enjoy - and how to protect them from heatstroke.

Can dogs have ice cubes? 

Yes, however, it is important to ensure any ice cubes are small and an appropriate size for your dog.

For a small dog, you can fill up an ice cube tray and add in some treats, such as peanut butter, salmon or dog treats in water and leave that to freeze over.

For bigger dogs, you can place treats in water in clean muffin tins and freeze them over to provide a cooling treat.

There have been rumours that giving ice to a dog can trick their bodies into actually warming up, however, this has been debunked by vets and in fact, ice cubes, cold water, or frozen treats are a helpful way to keep dogs cool.

As ice cubes are hard, be careful not to feed your pup anything that could harm the enamel on their teeth or wear down, or lead to a broken tooth.

However, as long as your dog has healthy teeth, it is unlikely that the occasional frozen treat will damage their teeth.

To minimise the risk of breaking their teeth you could:

  • Make ice cubes and frozen treats slightly softer by taking them out of the freezer five minutes before you give them
  • Avoid using large freezer moulds, and instead, use smaller moulds that make it easier for your dog to break the ice down with their teeth

What other cool treats could you feed your dog? 

Battersea has a dog-friendly ice lolly recipe to treat your pups to in the summer heat. Whilst dogs can have ice lollies, it’s vital to check the ingredients first to ensure there is no xylitol or other sweeteners which could be toxic to your pet.

Other treats include freezing some chicken or beef broth into ice cube trays or you could put some thinly sliced apples, carrots, bananas or sweet potatoes into the fridge to cool down and feed to your pet later in the day.

Some stores such as Pets at Home sell Ice Pop mixes for you to freeze at home, coming in flavours such as peanut butter or blueberry. They cost £3.00 for 4 treats, but the reusable tube comes separately.

Alternatively, Wilko sells Woof and Brew Paw Pops - a natural herbal frozen treat for your pets to enjoy. They come in packs of six, at 50ml each and pack costs £5.00.

What should you do if your dog has heatstroke? 

Heatstroke is a serious condition which can affect both humans and animals.

Dogs suffering from heatstroke can show signs of:

  • Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy, drowsiness or lack of coordination
  • Collapsing or vomiting

According to RSPCA, if your dog is displaying signs of heatstroke you should:

  • Move the dog to a shaded and cool area
  • Immediately pour cool (not cold to avoid a shock) water over the dog. Tap water (15-16°C) has been found to be the most effective at cooling dogs with heat-related illnesses. In a true emergency, any water is better than nothing.
  • Wet towels placed over the dog can worsen the condition, trapping heat. In mild cases towels can be placed under the dog, but never over, and in a true emergency water immersion or pouring water with air movement is ideal.
  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water
  • Continue to pour cool water over the dog until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering
  • Dogs that have lost consciousness will stop panting, despite still having a very high temperature, these dogs require urgent aggressive cooling as a priority. 
  • Throughout the treatment of heatstroke try to avoid pouring water on or near your dog’s head, as there is a risk of them inhaling water which could lead to drowning, especially for flat-faced and unconscious dogs.

Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest vet as a matter of urgency.