Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Snow?
The world can quickly turn into a winter wonderland with a fine layer of snow blanketing everything. Your pup probably can’t wait to go outside and explore. Dogs are a lot like children, weather changes often excite them, and they can’t wait to go for a walk. Many pet owners are alarmed when the first thing that their dog does is start to eat snow. Eating snow is natural. For thousands of years, wild canines have eaten snow to combat thirst when the lakes and rivers are frozen. Your domestic dog is simply acting like his wild ancestors.
Your dog can eat snow in small quantities if the snow is clean. Avoid snow that is discolored or located near roadways, walkways, or driveways due to the change of exposure to deicers and salt.
Why Do Dogs Eat Snow?
Below are a few common reasons why a dog devours snow:
- It's Fun: Yes, the pup in your dog just loves to eat snow because it’s a fun activity to frolic in and eat snow.
- DNA: As mentioned, dogs eat snow because their wild ancestors naturally ate snow. Dogs often act on instinct because something is coded in their DNA.
- Health Problem: If your dog obsessively eats a lot of snow then it could indicate a health problem such as kidney or thyroid disorders or Cushing’s disease. On occasion, a dog will eat snow as if it’s grass. They will consume a large quantity of the white stuff to ease an upset stomach so they can vomit.
Dangers of a Dog Eating Snow
As mentioned, it is safe for your dog to eat fresh, clean snow. However, snow that is not fresh can hide danger.
- Large piles of snow along walkways or roadways might be contaminated with salt or chemical deicers which can make your dog sick.
- Snow in a driveway might be contaminated with antifreeze which is used in autos. The chemical is deadly to animals even in small quantities.
- Debris such as rocks, wood or other unseen dangers can pose a choking hazard to your dog.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Snow
- It’s hard to stop your dog from eating snow. If you feel your pup is doing it out of thirst then provide fresh, clean water before you take your dog for a walk outdoors.
- You can use a leash to pull the dog away from the snow and if the pup should start trying to consume it then you can tell your pup ‘No’ and then move the dog away from the snow.
- Bring a toy on the walk to try to distract the dog from consuming snow.
If your dog only consumes a small amount of snow then it’s perfectly safe, but a large amount can cause a rapid cooldown of your dog’s core temperature. If your dog’s digestive tract cools too quickly then the dog might vomit or become chilled. However, most dogs only eat snow in moderation and it’s a perfectly safe act. Let Fido have a few licks of the clean white stuff.