Can Dogs Eat Snow? Snow Safety Tips For Dogs

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8 Minute Read
Updated November 7, 2022

Does your dog love catching snowflakes? Does he dive face-first into snow banks and grab mouthfuls of fresh white powder? Your dog may be having fun, but before you let him play in the snow, you should ask, can dogs eat snow?

Why do dogs love snow? When the great outdoors turns into a winter wonderland with a fresh blanket of pristine white snow, your pup probably can’t wait to go outside to play and eat snow.

Watching your furry friend devour the icy white stuff might make you concerned. Is snow safe for a dog to eat - is eating snow bad for dogs?

It's not uncommon for dogs to eat snow. Some dogs like catching snowflakes or snowballs, while others just choose to chow down on freshly fallen snow. While fresh, clean snow is safe in small quantities, you should not encourage your dog eating snow. 

 

Why Your Dog Eats Snow

There are a lot of theories about why dogs eat snow. Maybe it’s just in their DNA to make use of a water source when available, or maybe a dog eating snow and ice is just fun for the pooch. 

Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait to bundle up to go play in the white stuff?

You’d sled ride with your friends, have a rambunctious snowball fight, build a snowman, and eat snow! Your fun-loving dog is a lot like a furry kid. Most dogs just want to have fun, and eating snow is great entertainment.

Breaking down the facts on why a dog eating snow is a natural process:

    • To Quench Their Thirst:  If you have just taken Fido for a wintertime walk, then the pup might be thirsty. Cold temperatures make your canine companion’s body burn more energy to maintain the pet’s core temperature, so feeling thirty is natural. Eating snow is a refreshing way for your dog to enjoy a drink. 
    • The Call of the Wild: Many pet owners are surprised to learn that their furry sidekick still has extraordinarily strong instincts that go back to their wild ancestors. Wild canines in cold climates will eat snow as a way to hydrate when the lakes, streams, and rivers are frozen.

      The innate behaviour of a dog eating snow is truly a part of your domestic pup’s genetic makeup and has been coded in the animal’s DNA for centuries to ensure survival. 
    • A Possible Health Condition:  Yes, it's natural for some dogs to eat a little snow, but it's not acceptable for a canine to obsessively eat snow. If your dog seems to have an unquenchable lust for the icy white stuff, then it could indicate a health condition, and you’ll want to schedule a visit to your veterinarian. 

      A little bit of clean snow is likely not going to hurt, but when Fido can’t get enough of the snow and even whines to eat it, then it could be a sign of thyroid problems, Cushing’s disease, or a kidney problem. A dog eating snow not drinking water is cause for concern. 
    • Vomiting Snow: Many people will say my dog ate snow and then vomited. On occasion, a dog eats snow with the sole goal of vomiting. It’s just like your dog eats grass. Maybe your pup has a tummy ache and feels the need to vomit.

      Voraciously eating a bunch of snow can elicit a regurgitation reaction in a dog and cause the animal to vomit. If this only occurs occasionally, then it’s probably nothing to worry about, but if your dog regularly eats an excessive amount of snow, then there is cause for concern, and you should contact your veterinarian. 
    • They Like It:  When you see a dog eat snow, the reason behind the action might be as simple as the fact that the pet likes the snow. Fido might enjoy the cold sensation on his palate and the refreshing taste. Most dogs eat snow for the first time out of curiosity, but they then continue eating it because they like it. 


Is Eating Snow Bad for Dogs?

dog-eating-snow

It can be. Fresh, clean snow in small amounts is fine, but it can be difficult to know if snow is clean and safe just by looking at it. Everyone knows to avoid the yellow snow, and of course, brown, grey or any other colour than white means that there is something gross in the snow.

But even the whitest, freshest snowfall could contain contaminants. The road or walkway the snow falls on could be covered in road salts, or chemical ice melts that are dangerous for your dog to ingest. 

Never let your dog drink melted snow or slush. It is very possible that the snow has absorbed contaminants, bacteria, or chemicals from the ground it melted on. 

Also, be mindful of harmful objects that could be in the snow, like rocks, trash, or sticks. You don’t want your dog to break a tooth biting down on something, or choke on a piece of plastic. 

If your dog is only going to be outside for a short time in a controlled area, let's say in your yard, then it's perfectly fine for your dog to eat a little snow. Toss them a snowball and make a fun game out of it, but don't give them free reign to fill up on snow. 

Can Dogs Get Diarrhea From Eating Snow? 

A dog eating snow can lead to the pup having a stomachache due to a reduction in the temperature of your dog's stomach, which can irritate the digestive tract and cause diarrhea and vomiting. 

A little nibble of snow is unlikely to cause a problem, but if your dog obsessively eats snow, then a digestive reaction is much more likely. 

Can Dog Eating Snow Cause Hypothermia??

If you plan on spending a great deal of time outdoors in extreme temperatures with your canine buddy, then remember that eating a large amount of snow can lower your dog’s body temperature.

When your pet’s core body temperature drops, then they can start feeling the cold. This can lead to hypothermia in dogs which is life-threatening if not quickly addressed. Beyond using winter dog clothes to keep your pup warm, limit the amount of snow and freezing water they ingest. 

does my dog need a coat

 

How to Stop Dogs Eating Snow 

So we've answered the question, ‘Is dog eating snow bad?’ But what can you do to stop them? Learn how to discourage the behaviour with the following tips on how to redirect a dog eating snow and ice. 

    • Offer a bowl of fresh drinking water during every outdoor outing. 
    • Only walk your dog on a leash so you can steer your dog away from the snow, and stay only on bare sidewalks and walkways. 
    • Bring a favourite fetch toy or dog treat to distract your pup from eating snow. 
    • Always place dog snow boots on your dog’s paws to discourage the dog from licking the snowballs that accumulate in the canine’s paw pads and hair on the feet. 
    • Don't stop moving. When you stop, other than for bathroom breaks, your dog will try to take the opportunity to grab a snowy snack. 

Check out Frostbite on Dog Paws to learn more about the dangers of winter weather for dogs. 


Gearing Up for Fun in the Snow 

Most dogs find wintertime fun. They enjoy frolicking in the snow and maybe even grabbing a bite of the cold, wet stuff. Before you head out into the wintry weather, you should invest in winter dog gear. At Homes Alive Pets, we offer a wide selection of dog snow gear. 

CTAs_Dog Boots & Socks

    • Snow booties: Dog Boots not only keep your pup’s feet warm on a cold day, but they also protect your puppy's paws from snow, ice, salt, and chemical melts. They also provide protection from snow accumulation between the toes. 
    • Snowsuit:  Why not invest in a full-body snowsuit?  With water resistance and full body coverage, your dog is easily protected from the elements. 
    • Paw balm:  The drying effects of winter weather and the exposure to snow and ice take a toll on your dog’s paws. A soothing paw balm helps prevent soreness and cracking. 
    • Jacket: A winter jacket will provide your pup with core warmth when going for an outdoor hike or walk
    • Hat: Your dog's ears can become chilled, so a warm hat is a must-have winter gear item when playing in the snow. 


Snow Fun for Everyone!

dog-with-a-face-full-of-snow

Is eating snow bad for dogs?  Not in moderation. A dog eating snow is a common occurrence during the winter season. Let your dog have fun. A few licks of the cold stuff delight many doggies. Just remain vigilant that your pup doesn’t eat too much snow or anything potentially contaminated.

If your dog eats snow with gusto, he might just be overly excited, but if he doesn’t want to stop, then a trip to the vet to rule out any physical problems is a good idea. If your veterinarian gives your pup a clean bill of health, then you’ll know that your furry friend is just a snow enthusiast.

Is your dog obsessed with snow? What do you do to discourage this potentially hazardous habit? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Homes Alive Pets

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