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What happens if my dog ate an ice pack?

Dogs have a tendency to get into trouble. It’s always surprising, sometimes amusing, and often concerning. When you find your dog chowing down on an ice pack, your first thought is to worry if it will hurt them. What happens if they eat an ice pack?

What happens if my dog ate an ice pack?

What happens if your dog ate an ice pack depends on what type of ice pack they ate. There are two basic types, reusable ice packs and disposable. Let’s take a look at what happens if your dog eats a disposable ice pack. 

Ingredients in Disposable Ice Packs

Disposable ice packs are certainly convenient, but they can be dangerous for your pooch. These ice packs contain water, and a chemical that creates a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction is what makes the ice pack cold. 

The chemical in these ice packs can be either ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate, or urea. 

Ammonium Nitrate 

Ammonium nitrate is the most dangerous ingredient found in ice packs. If your dog ingests it, it causes the blood vessels to dialate. When this occurs, blood pressure is lowered. If blood pressure drops too low, there’s not enough blood flow to your dog’s organs.

It can also affect the red blood cells. This causes shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. Your dog’s gums may turn blue due to the lack of oxygen. Severe cases can cause loss of consciousness or death. 

ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate, or urea. Of these, the most 

Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

Calcium ammonium nitrate is a mix of calcium carbonate and ammonium nitrate. Calcium carbonate is nontoxic. In fact, it’s commonly used in antacids. 

This combination is less dangerous than pure ammonium nitrate. It can still cause the same symptoms of toxicity as ammonium nitrate, but a larger amount is needed to cause illness. 


Urea is safe for dogs. In fact, it was once used in pet safe ice melting products. This was discontinued because it’s ineffective for melting ice, but it is effective for cold packs. How’s that for irony. 

Urea can cause stomach upset in larger amounts, due to stomach irritation. However, there’s no real risk of toxicity. 

A Note on Discontinued Ice Packs 

Today’s ice packs rarely contain highly toxic ingredients. Ammonium nitrate is the most dangerous chemical found in ice packs today. However, ice packs that have been discontinued may contain diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is the ingredient in antifreeze, so you may have an idea how toxic it is. 

If your dog ate an ice pack you bought years ago and forgot about it, you have a reason to be very concerned. 

Initial signs of poisoning from these substances include lethargy, vomiting, low body temperature, seizures, and coma. Eventually, the dog will seem better, but they will be dehydrated. Their breathing and heart rate become elevated. The last stage is kidney dysfunction. The kidneys will cause a lot of pain, and they will not be able to urinate properly. This can lead to vomiting, seizures, coma, and death. 

What happens if my dog ate a gel ice pack?

Gel ice packs are typically made of water, propylene glycol, cellulose, and silica gel. These are typically not very toxic, but they can cause some minor issues. 

Sodium Polyacrylate

Some gel packs contain sodium polyacrylate. This is generally seen as non-toxic, but it can cause problems for dogs in larger amounts.

Symptoms include confusion, loss of coordination and balance, vomiting, and shaking or tremors are common symptoms. It may cause neurological symptoms and damage in large doses. 

Propylene Glycol 

Propylene glycol is used in ice packs and many other household items, including pet-safe anti-freeze. However, it is toxic in larger amounts. 

Small amounts can cause stomach and mouth irritation. This can lead to vomiting and loss of appetite. 

Ingesting larger amounts can cause weakness or loss of coordination, depression, slowed breathing, and tremors or shaking. Increased thirst and urination are common. 

Severe symptoms can include low blood pressure, loss of consciousness or unresponsiveness, seizures, and heart failure. 

Is the blue liquid in ice packs poisonous to dogs?

The blue liquid in ice packs can be dangerous in larger amounts. Similar to gel ice packs, they contain propylene glycol.

The symptoms are the same as those mentioned above. These include loss of coordination, slowed breathing, and tremors. Severe symptoms can include loss of consciousness, seizures, and heart failure. 

What to do if my dog ate an ice pack?

If your dog ate an ice pack, there are some things you should do. The exact steps can vary based on the type of ice pack and any symptoms your dog is experiencing. 

First Steps 

The first step is to remove any remaining ice pack. Be sure your pooch can’t eat anymore of it. You  may need to throw the pack away, or remove your dog from the area until the residue can be cleaned up. 

The next step is to give them water. This will help dilute any toxic ingredients, and reduce stomach and mouth irritation. 

Determining the Ingredients 

You’ll need to do is figure out the ingredients in the ice pack. There are a few potential ways to do this. If you have the original packaging, the ingredients may be listed on it. 

If you don’t have it, or the ingredients aren’t listed, you can try contacting the company. They may have the information on their website. You may also contact them and ask for the ingredients. 

If you can’t determine the ingredients using this method, you can contact poison control. 

Contacting Animal Poison Control 

It’s helpful if you know the ingredients, but poison control may be able to look them up for you. You can contact the human poison control hotline at (800) 222-1222, or online.  

The best option, however, is to contact animal poison control. Their service is fee based. However, they have a large database of toxic substances. They also have formulas to determine the risk to your pet, considering their size, weight, and amount ingested. 

If they recommend you get veterinary care for your dog, they can work with your vet on the treatment plan. This can speed the process, providing your vet with the toxicity information they need. 

You can contact them at 800-213-6680 or visit their website

Managing Mild Symptoms 

If your pooch has stomach upset or mild mouth irritation, these can be managed at home. For mouth irritation, all you need to do is give them water. Be aware they may be reluctant to eat for a day or two after the incident. Consider giving them soft or canned dog food while their mouth heals. 

For vomiting and diarrhea, a bland diet is very helpful. This is simply boiled chicken and rice. Give them two parts rice to one part chicken. After 24 to 48 hours, slowly begin transitioning them back to their regular diet. 

Pepto bismal can also help calm your dog’s stomach. You can give them 1 teaspoon per every 10 pounds of body weight. You can repeat the dose every 6 to 8 hours as needed. 

Famotide is also helpful. The dosage is .5 mg per pound of body weight. So, a 20 pound dog can take 10 mg of famotide. You can repeat this every 12 hours as needed.