Snow Bites: Why Dogs Eat Snow & Must-Know Safety

If your dog enjoys snacking on snow this winter, it's crucial to be vigilant and watch out for a few important things.

Published November 21, 2023
Face of a dog with snowflakes and tongue

With the winter season comes many questions, especially if you're a new pet parent. One of the most common questions is, 'can dogs eat snow?' Well, the answer is yes and no. There are times when eating snow is perfectly acceptable and others when it could be dangerous. 

It pretty much comes down to why they're snacking on snow in the first place. It's one thing if they're just having a bit of fun, but it's an entirely different story if they're doing it because they're dehydrated.

Why Do Dogs Eat Snow?

Sometimes your dog just likes to grab a mouthful of snow for the fun of it. Other times, it could be instinctive. If your dog is thirsty, they may instinctively know to hydrate with snow. It's usually fresh and clean, sort of like that super-refreshing ice water we get at restaurants. I totally get why they might crave that.

And there's the whole thing about the texture of the snow and how it feels in their mouth. They might just find that really cool and enjoyable. Maybe compare it to that feeling you get when you take a bite of your cherry slushie. The texture is odd but satisfying. And the flavor is oh-so-yummy. 

Can Dogs Eat Snow Safely?

As long as the snow has recently fallen and is completely clean, there's generally no harm in your dog grabbing a mouthful of snow. Think of it like a natural snow cone, minus the syrup. I can think of a few family members and friends who enjoy eating cups of ice. 

However, snow that's been sitting around for a while or is by the roadside could have absorbed various impurities, like road salt, antifreeze, or chemicals, which aren't good for dogs and could even be fatal. Also, remember that in extremely cold temperatures, eating too much snow can lower your dog's body temperature or lead to an upset stomach. A little nibble here and there is fine, but it's best not to let them make a meal out of it.

Quick Tip

Stick to fresh snow only, and be careful in areas that could have rocks. You don't want your dog cracking their teeth when they chomp down on a snowball. 

What Amount of Snow is Too Much?

The ratio of snow to water is about 12:1, so it would take a lot of snow for your dog to consume too much water. That being said, any time it's cold outside, you should be wary of your dog's core temperature. A good rule of thumb is that if you're cold, your pup probably is too, but eating snow could get them there faster, so if you're going to toss some snowballs, be sure to be aware of the signs your dog is cold

Need to Know

Generally, dogs should drink 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. 

Woman and dog playing in the snow

How to Discourage Dogs From Eating Snow

You know your dog the best, so use what works. Here are some ideas:

  • Freshness matters: Keep their water fresh for it to be more enticing. If you can't change it or forget to change it, consider grabbing a fountain. 
  • Prevent puddle drinking: Keep your dog as far from the puddles as possible to ensure your dog doesn't lap up some toxins. 
  • Distraction: Bring along toys or treats on your snowy walk (don't forget to keep the treats under 10% of your dog's diet). 

Go Play

Go have fun in the wild winter wonderland. If your dog grabs a mouthful of snow along the way, as long as it's fresh and clean, don't worry. Many dogs love to snatch up a bit of snow in mid-frolic–mine certainly does! Just keep an eye on their safety and remember not to stay out in the cold for too long.

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Snow Bites: Why Dogs Eat Snow & Must-Know Safety