Is It Safe To Let My Dog Eat Snow?

Dog enjoying a snow
Ginny Williams / Flickr

Dogs react to snow differently. Some hate it in the same way they hate mud puddles. They try their best to tiptoe through or walk around them.

But others just love it whenever it snows. You’ll see them joyfully rolling in the snow in the same way they happily get soaked in the pouring rain. Or in the same way, they like the coolness of being neck-deep in the mud.

Do you have a dog who’s like the second type we described here? Does your dog love chasing snowballs and being hit by them? And does it lick snowflakes? Do you catch it sticking out its tongue to catch them as they fall? Or maybe it loves munching on snow that’s on the ground.

Indeed, dogs will be dogs. And they’re all about fun. A question that may come up though is, is it safe for dogs to eat snow? As a responsible pet owner, should you let your dog eat snow? Or should you dutifully scold and stop your dog from doing that.

Can Snow Be Harmful to Your Dog?

Without thinking, you may feel like snow is harmless and safe for your dog to eat. It’s just ice crystals falling from the sky anyway. What could possibly be harmful with magical snowflakes falling from the clouds?

Dog eating snow
Ravensrat2K8 / Flickr

But some groups and companies warn against letting pet dogs eat snow. Dogtopia is one of them. It’s an operator of dog daycare establishments within North America.

Dogtopia further advises pet owners not to let their dogs eat snow, especially when outside or traveling in unfamiliar territories. Here are two reasons why they think snow is unsafe for dogs.

  1. Because eating too much snow can make your dog’s temperature drop to risky levels. And it may lead to hypothermia.
  2. Because your dog can come in contact with too much rock salt from playing with snow. And this could lead to chemical burns and paw irritation. And they can ingest large amounts of rock salt from eating too much snow. This can lead to lethargy and weakness. It can also cause kidney failure and even seizures.

Now you may wonder how dogs can catch rock salt from the snow. Well, it’s commonly used to melt snow. People scatter them on roads. It’s everywhere.

How Can You Let Your Dog Safely Eat and Play with Snow?

There are safer ways to let your dog enjoy the cold, snowy winter season. If you’re off exploring public places, maybe don’t stay out too much. Limit its exposure to snow when you’re in commercial areas.

And if you would like to treat your furry pet to the pleasures of snow play, maybe let it roll around your yard or nearby park that’s not too public.

Keith / Flickr

Choose natural, untouched settings. Choose locations where you’re almost sure people don’t scatter rock salt or antifreeze chemicals.

Don’t let your dog play and eat snow in crowded areas and public places where unsafe food and materials may get mixed in snow. These may be bits of food that are not safe for your dog to eat.

These can also include sharp objects or fragments of broken items like glass. Snow also falls on animal waste. And it will be unfortunate for your dog to start eating snow that’s contaminated with poop.

So stick to familiar territories that don’t get much traffic. And if your own home can be your dog’s main winter playground, then let it be so. Dogs are not hard to please So long as there’s snow in the garden or yard, they’d be happy to stay home.

Final Thoughts

There’s just something enticing about snow. It unleashes the playful spirit in both people and pets. And if your dog is a snow lover, you can let it safely play and eat snow. Just remember to monitor your dog at all times.

Don’t let it play too long outside in the snow. And watch that it doesn’t eat a lot of snow. It may be at risk of hypothermia. Also, be careful where you let your dog play with snow. It’s always safer at home, right in your clean backyard.

Public places may be risky because of unsafe properties and particles that may have become mixed with snow. These could be rock salt or antifreeze chemicals people use to melt snow on roads. And these could also be unsafe food and sharp objects that lay hidden in the snow.

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