Why Do Dogs Eat Snow?
So your pup just had a grand ol’ time at the dog park (winter be damned!) and stops to chow down on some snow en route to the home front. Per Dr. Kurt, sometimes the best explanation for said phenomenon is the most obvious one: “It’s possible that your dog is just thirsty or if they have been exercising outside, possibly dehydrated and looking for a source of water.” Unless your pup is wearing a CamelPak this makes a lot of sense, no?
Hold up: Before you get too precious and start worrying that your pup is severely dehydrated from that walk around the block, you might also consider that eating snow is simply what your dog was born to do. Dr. Kurt tells us that some dogs have “an evolutionary need to rehydrate” while others simply indulge because they’re curious, or because they’re attracted to the texture, cold temperature and taste of the snow.
3. Underlying health condition
Although eating snow is generally harmless (more on that later), a pup who’s regularly going to town on the stuff and cannot be stopped might need to see the veterinarian for a health check-up. As with excessive thirst, excessive eating of snow can, in some cases, indicate dehydration caused by an underlying health condition like diabetes or kidney disease, cautions Dr. Kurt.
Is it bad for dogs to eat snow?
According to the expert, eating snow is not a problem in and of itself. Indeed, “the prevailing scientific opinion is it’s OK for your dog to eat clean, fresh snow in small amounts,” says Dr. Kurt. However, that doesn’t make it an entirely risk-free behavior. In fact, eating snow can be downright dangerous when the snow in question is concealing foreign objects (i.e., rocks, sticks or garbage) or contaminated with toxic chemicals, like those used to prevent freezing on roads and sidewalks. For this same reason, Dr. Kurt also advises dog owners to be on the lookout for green or blue puddles of liquid on the ground, which could be antifreeze—a sweet-tasting chemical that’s extremely dangerous when ingested.
Furthermore, Dr. Kurt cautions against allowing your dog to dig into hard-packed snow or chunks of ice, which “can be difficult for dogs to chew and could potentially cause dental issues.” The takeaway? A mouthful of freshly-fallen snow is fine every once in a while, but if you do allow the behavior, you’ll need to keep a watchful eye, as dirty snow can be seriously bad news for dogs.