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Ask a Vet: Canines can handle ice water

POSTED: July 13, 2014 1:00 a.m.

I occasionally suffer from sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. You might have it, too. And your pet could, too.

It’s the sudden massive stimulation of the nerves just above the back of your throat after taking in a cold substance. Yes, brain freeze.

How easily you fall prey to the disorder varies greatly.

Cats rarely eat ice or drink huge amounts of water rapidly, so their risk is relatively low.

In practice, this is how I avoid the problem. But my son has no fear and dives into frozen treats like a madman. He takes the dog approach.

It takes a lot to affect your dog, but it can happen. Thus, colder water or ice water tends to encourage a slower rate of ingestion. This is important to remember.

A recent widely, though not wisely, shared story on social media sites detailed the risk of dogs drinking ice water, then subsequently developing “bloat” or GDV. Bloat or GDV is an inflating and twisting of the stomach.

There is no scientific evidence of this. But you know how rumors spread, especially bad ones.

You may hear the grocery store has a good sale on bananas through word of mouth, but you’re much more likely to hear about someone’s divorce or arrest. So the word went out, quickly and inaccurately.

Two principle risk factors are associated with bloat or GDV: deep chests as found in large dog breeds such as great danes and ingestion of air often by rapid eating or drinking. The chest size allows distension and twisting. Swallowing air supplies inflation. Simple, right?

Logically, you might think colder water and brain freeze risk would yield slower ingestion and thus less air-swallowing. That would lower the risk for either disorder. But we don’t know. No studies have been done.

So, to be responsible, we don’t urge ice water as a prevention. But also, we have no reason to recommend avoiding it. After all, the reports were only rumors, and online rumors at that. Science hopefully kills rumors.

So don’t fear ice water for your dog. It’s hot out!

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.



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