Dogs Eating Snow: Fun or Foul?

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There's something about dogs eating snow that's just so darn cute.

It seems like every time I step outside, there's a new pup out there enjoying a good old fashioned snowball fight or licking away at the fresh fallen snow. But is it really healthy for dogs to eat snow?


Is eating snow bad for dogs?


Let's get this nagging question out of the way first and foremost - is eating snow really bad for dogs?

In general, the answer is no, dogs eating snow is not bad for dogs.


In fact, it's actually a pretty natural behavior. Dogs have been known to eat all sorts of things, including dirt and trash, so a little snow isn't going to hurt them.


However, that doesn't mean that you should let your dog eat as much snow as they want.

Just like with any other food, there are certain risks associated with dogs eating too much snow.


For example, if your dog eats too much snow, they could end up with an upset stomach or diarrhea.

Additionally, if the snow is contaminated with antifreeze or other chemicals, it could make your dog sick.

So while dogs eating snow isn't inherently bad for them, it certainly isn't something you want them to make a habit of.


Why dogs eat snow


Now that we've answered the question of whether or not dogs eating snow is bad for them, let's take a look at why they do it in the first place.

After all, dogs have been known to eat all sorts of things, so what is it about snow that makes it so appealing?


There are a few theories out there about why dogs love to eat snow below.


Natural way for them to cool down


One theory is that dogs eat snow as a way to cool down.

This makes sense when you have certain dogs that are built for snow - dogs like the Siberian Huskies and Samoyeds absolutely adore snow, and it is in snow where they are at peak performance.

Other dogs may also be extremely active with double coats, and can overheat easily when playing.

So... How better to cool down than to eat ice that's all around them?


So, eating snow might be their natural way of cooling down when the temperatures start to rise.

Additionally, dogs have a limited ability to sweat, so they need to find other ways to regulate their body temperature.


Water source


Another theory is that dogs eat snow because they see it as a source of hydration.

Especially in wintertime, when temperatures are low and water sources might be scarce, dogs may turn to eating snow as a way to stay hydrated.

It's worth noting though that while dogs will get some hydration from eating snow, it's not nearly as effective as drinking water so make sure you leave a bowl of room temperature or warm water for your dog in the winter!


Fun


Honestly, some dogs just do it because they enjoy doing it.


There's something about the taste and texture of snow that dogs love, and they'll keep coming back for more even if it isn't the most practical way to stay hydrated or cool down.


At the end of the day, dogs eating snow is a totally natural behavior - but that doesn't mean you should let them do it to excess.


Dangers of dogs eating snow


While we did say that in general a dog eating snow is not bad, it is also worth noting that in the cities or suburbs, you should take extra precaution.


Toxic ice


Sometimes driveways and roads are coated with antifreeze agents, which can be toxic to dogs in large amounts.

dogs will likely be okay if they ingest a very small lick of de-icer, but it’s important to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t consume too much.


Rotten vegetation


Underneath ice, there may be some rotting vegetation and mushrooms, which are toxic to both humans and dogs alike.

But when in the snow, your dog likely won't be able to snuff it out and avoid it.

If you're concerned that a certain area potentially has rotting stuff and is potentially deadly, keep your dog either away from that area, or train your dog to recall if they get close.


Poisonous substances


Lastly, some dogs may be tempted to eat the snow if it's yellow or red in color.

This could be a sign that there's urine or another poisonous substance in the snow, so it's best to avoid letting your dog eat it.


Hard objects


Similar to poisonous substances, your dog might happily chomp down on snow, and suddenly, he bites into a rock and damages his teeth.

This is a somewhat rare occurrence, but it can happen.

However this is more likely to happen in the outback and country, rather than at your front yard.


FAQ about dogs eating snow


Can dogs get brain freeze from eating snow?


Short answer, yes they can.

Brain freeze is technically called an ice cream headache, and it's caused when the cold temperature of something touches the roof of your mouth - quickly lowering the temperature of your blood vessels.

Dogs can get brain freeze just like humans do, and will likely experience similar symptoms.

It's funny too, but don't torment your dog with brain freeze too much, yeah?


Can a dog get sick from eating too much snow?


Short answer, yes it's possible for that to happen.

If a dog ingests too much snow, it can lower their body temperature to the point where they get hypothermia.

Interestingly, eating too much snow can also actually dehydrate your dog - it takes heat to turn it into water.

But if your dog is already dehydrated, the additional time to melt can actually cause further dehydration!


More importantly, sometimes snow can contain toxic or poisonous substances inside, that a dog may not be able to smell out inside the snow.

That can potentially cause stomach upsets, or an emergency trip to the vet if it's life threatening.


Conclusion


All in all, dogs eating snow is not inherently bad for them.

However, there are certain risks associated with it, so it's important to be aware of those before letting your dog indulge.

If you're concerned about your dog eating too much snow, talk to your vet for more advice.




about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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