If you asked most Newfie owners if their dog eats snow, you would probably get a unanimous response of yes.
Snow is one of the main 5 food groups for Newfoundlands.
They like it.
They really, really like it.
In most cases, eating freshly fallen snow off of the ground is safe for the majority of dogs however, not all snow is created equal so some caution and common sense should be used.
Why Do Dogs Eat Snow?
Many dogs will eat snow as a form of play and just because they like it.
Some dogs will eat snow because they are thirsty.
Newfoundlands will eat snow because they need to cherish it before spring comes.
And finally, some dogs like eating snow because it makes them feel better.
Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Snow?
That depends on your snow because not all snow is equal.
The snow in my backyard is safe for my healthy dogs to eat in moderation.
I know what’s in my yard and what’s under the snow and my backyard is not treated with any chemicals and my dogs currently do not have any health problems.
Your yard might contain different things so you’re the only one who knows if the snow in your yard is safe and your dog might not be healthy.
What Snow Is Not Safe For Dogs To Eat?
Snow that has been treated with chemicals such as rock salt or ice melt is not safe for dogs to eat.
Many deicers contain ingredients such as sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride or calcium salts.
Sodium chloride is salt and too much salt can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
According to the Pet Poison Hotline, if large amounts are ingested, the dog can develop sodium toxicosis which can turn lethal if a dose of 4 grams per kilogram is ingested.
Potassium chloride salts may cause severe gastrointestinal upset in dogs.
Ice melts that contain magnesium chloride can cause gastrointestinal upset, and may also cause the build-up of high levels of magnesium in the blood in dogs with impaired kidney function.
Basically, don’t let your dog eat snow off of areas that have been treated with deicers or drink from snow puddles.
These areas are often public sidewalks, roads, driveways and playgrounds.
Snow that contains rocks, sticks and other yard debris may cause a dog to choke.
(*If you have a bird feeder in your yard or your neighbor has one, check to make sure that they aren’t dropping a lot of seed or other food in your yard.)
Does Eating Snow Make Dogs Sick?
Yes. Some dogs might vomit if they eat too much snow just like they may vomit if they drink water too fast.
Some dogs may eat snow for the same reason that some dogs eat grass.
Dogs that have sensitive stomachs may get sick from eating snow.
It’s always best to speak with your veterinarian in regards to your dog’s health and if eating snow is safe for them.
Leroy, my dog that had IBD, was an obsessive snow and ice eater.
Eating too much snow and ice would trigger his IBD.
Does Snow Keep Dogs Hydrated?
No, snow is frozen water vapor and only contains about 10% water so your dog would have to eat a lot of snow in order to stay hydrated.
Snow should never be a substitute for fresh water.
Are Snowballs Safe For Dogs To Eat?
What dog doesn’t like playing a game of fetch with a snowball?
The same principles will apply to snowballs as regular snow.
As long as it’s clean, it should be o.k. for most dogs to catch a snowball in their mouth.
Just know that dogs that know how to catch might get a mouthful of snow which can cause them to gag a little bit.
If a dog has snowballs on their paws that have formed, it’s best to try and carefully remove them or protect their paws with boots or paw balm, especially if they have been on a walk on treated surfaces.
How To Keep Your Dog From Eating Snow
If eating snow causes your dog to get sick or you just don’t want them eating it, the best way to stop it is to monitor your dog while they are outside.
You can also keep them on a leash so that they are always in reach.
And you can try to provide them with toys outside so that they are distracted.
Always provide your dog with fresh, clean water.
Eating snow for dogs is normally a fun activity but for some, it can be a sign of a medical condition.
You should always check with your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may have underlying health problems..
I am not a veterinarian and the information in this post does not substitute for veterinarian advice