Winter is right around the corner, which means colder temperatures and snow. If your dog is one to romp and explore outside, you know just how fun snow days can be. While some dogs prefer to catch snowballs and jump in snow piles, others would rather spend their time eating the delicious frozen water.
Have you ever wondered why does my dog eat snow? You aren’t alone! Here's why some pups are enamored with the taste of it.
Why some dogs like snow
There are many reasons why your dog loves mouthfuls of snow. Here are some of the most common theories that dog owners and vets can agree on.
Some dogs love to eat snow simply because they're curious and explore using their mouths. Snow only happens a few times a year, which makes it super fascinating and exciting for dogs and humans alike.
It's soft, fluffy, and has a fun texture. So what may start as a few nibbles can easily turn into a full blown love affair! When the first bite is pleasurable, they'll continue to enjoy their wintry snack.
It's in their DNA
We all too often forget that dogs were once wild animals. This means that it’s totally possible for them to still have certain survival instincts. While they’re now our couch companions and hiking partners, in the past, dogs had to fend for themselves.
For many centuries, their ancestors, especially those living in colder climates, ate snow to stay hydrated. This means it's totally possible for this innate behavior to be encoded in your dog's DNA, even after thousands of years!
The most common scientific reason as to why dogs eat snow is dehydration. During the winter months, dogs are more likely to become dehydrated because the air is dry and devoid of moisture. Unless you live in a cold, humid environment, dehydration is a real risk for your pup.
Dog owners need to be especially mindful of ensuring their dog has plenty of water during the winter months. If your dog is dehydrated, they may eat snow to account for the lack of fresh water in their bowl.
Common signs of dehydration include:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Dry nose
- Reduced energy levels
To keep your dog hydrated, encourage him drink more water by providing fresh water throughout the day. No dog wants to drink stale water!
Underlying medical issue
Though it can be funny to watch your dog eat mouthfuls of snow, there may be a serious medical issue behind their craving. Aside from dehydration, an obsessive snow eating habit may be caused by kidney stones or Cushing's disease.
The best thing to do is to give your dog a fresh bowl of water. If they continue to eat snow, schedule a vet appointment to rule out any underlying health problem.
Should I let my dog eat snow?
Unless your dog has an undiagnosed health condition that's causing them to eat snow, there's nothing wrong with letting your pup partake. Noshing on snow every so often isn’t likely to negatively impact your dog’s health.
If your dog obsessively eats snow or seems to be dehydrated, it’s best to take your dog to the vet. While it’s cute (and funny) to watch your dog eat snow, it’s not so cute if it’s due to an underlying health issue.
Is snow dangerous?
Snow is generally a relatively harmless winter snack. However, it's best for snow to only be eaten in small quantities. Eating too much snow in a small window of time could dangerously lower your dog's body temperature.
You'll want to check that the snow is clean and contains no potentially harmful substances like antifreeze or ice melt. Never let your dog eat snow that isn't white and preferably undisturbed. Discolored or partially melted snow from heavily trafficked areas is likely to be contaminated and dangerous for your dog's health.
Or if you're out hiking, be mindful of hidden objects such as sticks, rocks, or trash that could be buried beneath the snow. These could cause choking, break teeth, or lead to intestinal damage.
How to discourage your dog from eating snow
If your dog eats too much snow or if you're worried about your pup eating potentially contaminated snow, there are some things you can do. Just be aware that it's often impossible to prevent your dog from eating snow entirely.
Here are some things you can do to keep snow snacking to a minimum:
- Always provide your dog with clean drinking water. Be sure to replace water several times throughout the day.
- Bring toys or treats outside to distract your dog from eating the snow.
- Never leave your dog outside unattended.
Using a leash when walking or hiking with your dog is also important. While your dog is out running through (and eating) the snow, it's important to keep an eye on them. Tools like Fi, a GPS tracking collar for dogs, are great for keeping tabs on your dog's whereabouts, and you can even see just how many steps they take during their snowy explorations.
It's completely normal for dogs to partake in a snowy snack every once in a while. But as a pet parent, it's up to you to ensure that your pup isn't eating anything harmful along with the snow. Be mindful when your dog is snacking and always keep a watchful eye.