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My dog eats snow - what should I do?

Wonderful weather lures you out into the snow in winter - does your four-legged friend also love romping around in the cold white stuff? If so, you probably know the feeling: Your dog's snout disappears into the snow in an instant and he eagerly eats the snow that melts so beautifully on his tongue. But is he allowed to do that? As a dog owner, do you have to worry that this could harm your pet? We have the answers for you!

Is eating snow dangerous for dogs?

It's not unusual for dogs to eat snow. But can this behaviour be dangerous? We can reassure you here: In most cases, it's not dangerous. Clean snow can even be a good way for your furry friend to absorb fluids. However, it becomes critical for animals if the snow is contaminated - as this can lead to diarrhoea and vomiting as well as serious illnesses. In the following cases, you should therefore prevent your pet from eating snow on a walk:

  • if the snow is dirty and therefore obviously contains impurities, e.g. on a busy road
  • if you cannot rule out the possibility that the snow contains road salt, grit or toxic chemicals such as pesticides or antifreeze
  • if your dog has a sensitive stomach and the cold could cause stomach irritation
  • if your dog has already eaten a lot of snow and the excessive amount of snow could even cause inflammation of the stomach lining

Our tip: How much snow a dog can eat varies from dog to dog. While some dogs can tolerate large amounts of clean snow without any problems, others have stomach problems even with small amounts of snow. However, to be on the safe side, you should pay particular attention to your pet after eating snow: If there are any signs that he may have stomach pain, feels unwell or even shows symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting, you should visit your vet and have the symptoms checked out.

Why does my dog eat snow?

There can be many reasons for this behaviour in your four-legged friend:

  • Curiosity: Your dog may be very curious and want to get to know this new, interesting element.
  • Quenching thirst: If your dog is thirsty anyway, he may soon realise that the melting snow will satisfy his thirst.
  • Playfulness: Whether it's deep powdery snow that he can sink his nose into or snowballs that he can chase after - snow offers so many opportunities to run around and play with other dogs or with his favourite two-legged friends! Eating the snow in the heat of the moment is just part of the fun, isn't it?

My dog eats snow and has diarrhoea - is this snow gastritis?

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Snow gastritis is therefore an inflammation of the stomach lining caused by your dog eating snow.

Symptoms of snow gastritis in dogs may include the following:

  • Salivating and gurgling
  • Choking and coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exhaustion
  • Abdominal pain, accompanied by
  • hard abdominal wall and
  • curved back
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (in the worst case even bloody)
  • Fever

Our tip: Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you should decide whether rest and a light diet could help your dog or whether a visit to the vet is advisable. If you notice severe signs of illness in your four-legged friend (e.g. blood in the faeces or vomit) or if the general condition is disturbed (e.g. the dog appears ill, is apathetic or develops an unwillingness to eat), go straight to your vet! The vet can find the cause of the symptoms, as it is often not the cold alone that causes irritation of the mucous membrane, but also the dirt contained in the snow. With the right diagnosis, he can prescribe suitable medication to help your dog.

Snow gastritis in dogs - what can I do?

If your walk in the snow has actually resulted in an acute stomach upset or even snow gastritis, the following home remedies and tips will help your furry friend feel better again soon:

  • Avoid food: Avoid the next meal and wait a few hours so that the stomach and intestines can recover.
  • Light diet: You should then prepare a light diet for your four-legged friend for a few days. This includes, for example, unseasoned rice and chicken or cottage cheese, which can be particularly beneficial for the intestinal tract.
  • Sufficient fluids: Diarrhoea and vomiting cause your four-legged friend to lose a lot of fluids. So make sure he drinks enough, but not too much at once! This can irritate the stomach even more and can lead to vomiting again. Water or tea at room temperature are ideal and can be easily mixed with the food and the light diet.
  • Rest and affection can also help your four-legged friend to feel better.

However, if the symptoms persist, a visit to the vet is definitely advisable!

Stop your dog from eating snow - 5 tips

Have you ever had the experience that eating snow is bad for your four-legged friend?Then it's worth preventing health problems - we have 5 tips for you:

  1. Walking on a leash: Puppies and young dogs in particular are curious and still have to learn that they are not allowed to eat everything that comes in front of their paws. It therefore makes sense to keep your little whirlwinds on a leash so that you can intervene in good time if they want to eat snow. A clear "No!" and a gentle tug on the leash will signal to them that their behaviour is undesirable.
  2. Avoid snowball fights: Snowballs are quickly moulded and fly wonderfully - but they naturally encourage biting. Even if it's difficult, avoid this winter fun in the presence of your dog!
  3. Move search games indoors: Does your dog love search games? Snow is of course also ideal for this! Unfortunately, there is a high risk that snow will also be eaten, so it's better to move search games to a snow-free area or indoors (e.g. with a sniffing carpet).
  4. Put on a muzzle: If your four-legged friend cannot be tamed at all, a muzzle could help. If you don't have any experience with this yet, our article "Getting your dog used to a muzzle" will show you how you can get your dog used to a muzzle and in which other situations this can help you.
  5. Drink enough before the walk: Also give your dog enough water before your walk - then he won't feel the urge to eat snow on the way to quench his thirst.

Conclusion: If you want to enjoy the snow in winter to your heart's content with your four-legged friend, you should definitely do so! If you already know your four-legged friend well and know that he has a robust stomach and you are also travelling in areas where there is clean, untouched snow without road salt or antifreeze, there is nothing to stop you from letting your four-legged friend have a taste of the snow. If you also have a loyal companion who listens to you and can be called back reliably, there's practically nothing to stop you enjoying the snow! How do you feel about your pet: is he allowed to eat snow or have you already had to endure gastritis and now prefer to keep him back? Tell us about your experiences!

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