Why do dogs eat snow?

April 13, 2012

It’s winter, the dog is kept inside the centrally heated house. Every day for a couple of hours the dog is allowed to go out to do its business and to have a bit of exercise. But the owner always makes sure that the pampered pet is wearing a doggie jacket and snow boots. Very lucky dog! And then when the dog got the chance, it slips out of the door, rolled and rolled in the snow and happily and heartily eats the snow. The dog’s momma shrieked, “My baby will get cold!” Anyways, this is just a story but really, some owners are disconcerted by their pet’s bizarre behavior. So, why do dog eat snow? Can it be because the owner has forgotten to fill the dog’s water bowl? Or is it hungry and snow would at least assuage the rumblings of the stomach?

Humans love snow especially if it is liberally topped with maple syrup so why wouldn’t dogs eat snow too. Eating snow is one of the better eating habits of dogs much better than eating poop and eating spoiled food from the trash can. Some dog owners allow their pets to eat snow. Snow eating after all is natural and not harmful. Dogs in the wild eat snow when the streams and the rivers that are their source of drinking water are frozen during the winter months. And how do you think dogs in the Arctic drink? Owners of these sled pullers never hauled water to fill water bowl. For their water needs, these Arctic dogs simply eat and consume large amounts of snow. Moreover you will see the dog enjoying itself, you can hear the crunch crunch of the snow. The dog simply loves the sensation of the melting snow in its mouth.

Dog experts however have another theory about the dog’s excessive fondness for snow. Snow eating is probably triggered by an underlying medical concern. Thyroid diseases, kidney diseases and Cushing’s disease would increase the dog’s appetite. These diseases would also make the dog extremely thirsty. In such a case the dog would need a thorough medical examination. If medical concerns are ruled out, the dog may simply enjoy the taste and the coolness of the snow. The dog may be eating a fair amount of snow but it is still advisable to make sure that the bowl is filled with clean fresh water at all times. The dog would still need the water you provide as although the pet have consumed a large amount of snow it has ingested less amount of water. Melted snow is 100% water. Freshly fallen snow has air trapped within the snow crystals so that it would have a mere 5% water content. Eating snow is not harmful but is should be done in moderation. Excessive snow eating could result to a runny and unformed stool and to vomiting. Consuming large amounts of snow would lower the dog’s body temperature. This could lead to hypothermia. If you notice that the pet has a fondness for cold water, try placing a few ice cubes on the doggie bowl. Chilled water from the refrigerator will reduce the dog’s craving for snow. Or you may want to have bonding time with your pooch over a pint of your favorite vanilla flavored ice cream.

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