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Can Ice Water Cause A Hot Dog to Bloat?

Posted June 26, 2014 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Husky drinking cold water

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).

There has been a lot of hubbub on the Internet about dogs getting bloat after drinking ice water, but is it truth or myth?

The story I reference above certainly has all of the elements of a true story. It was written by somebody who shows dogs. It has been copied and pasted on countless websites. It has legs (several years of posting and reposting to date).

So what does the story say? To summarize, it recounts a medical adventure of Baran the show dog. Baran was apparently given ice water after his show and then his owner “noticed that he was starting to bloat.”

“I did everything I was taught to do in this case,” said the owner. “I was not able to get him to burp, and we gave him Phasezime.”

After rushing Baran to the veterinarian, he was stabilized and his vital organs were saved. The veterinarian then told the owner that it was ice water which caused the bloat to occur.

Could the ice have caused bloat?
It’s stories like this that spread the rumor that bloat is caused by ice, but I have a few issues with this story in particular. I have never personally heard of ice water causing bloat. I asked half a dozen of my colleagues, both emergency vets and board-certified surgeons from around the country, and they all agreed that it doesn’t make sense. Even on snopes.com, where I found the story, Dr. Audrey Harvey says, “Firstly, while ice may cause a muscle spasm, this is more likely to cause vomiting. Secondly, if ice caused bloating, then we’d see more cases of bloat during winter in dogs that live outdoors in cold parts of the country, where their water bowl ices over, and this isn’t the case.”

Also consider the following:

  • There is no proof that Baran bloated because he drank cold water.
  • There is no scientific proof that “a handfull of ice” causes bloat.
  • Cold water is likely to warm up quickly once it reaches the stomach – just like when you swallow a large ice drink.
  • The author writes “I was not able to get him to burp,” but, how do you
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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.