Can Dogs Get Brain Freeze

icon July 14, 2023

In hot summer, some dogs' parents may notice their adorable dogs spitting on their tongues to cool off and showing great interest in their ice cream. But do you know brain freeze can also stalk your dog if being provided overly extreme cold food, including ice cream? In this article, the real story about brain freeze in dogs will be presented with you.

What Is Brain Freeze In Dogs?

Brain freeze, also known as an ice cream headache or cold-stimulus headache, occurs in dogs when they consume something extremely cold, such as ice cream, frozen treats, or very cold water. The scientific term for brain freeze is sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia.

When a dog consumes a cold substance, the sudden temperature change in the mouth and throat causes the blood vessels in that area to constrict rapidly. This constriction is followed by a dilation of the blood vessels, leading to a rapid increase in blood flow. The rapid constriction and subsequent dilation of blood vessels in the head can result in a painful sensation, commonly known as brain freeze.

What Causes Brain Freeze In Dogs?

Brain freeze in dogs is caused by the rapid changes in blood flow and blood vessel constriction and dilation that occur when they consume something extremely cold. When a cold substance touches the roof of the mouth, the blood vessels in that area rapidly constrict to prevent a sudden drop in temperature in the brain. This constriction is followed by a dilation of the blood vessels, which leads to an increase in blood flow.

The exact mechanisms behind brain freeze are not fully understood, but it is believed to be a protective response to prevent potential damage from extreme cold. The rapid constriction and subsequent dilation of blood vessels in the head can trigger nerve endings and cause a painful sensation.

Dogs, like humans, have sensitive nerve endings in their mouth and throat, which can be stimulated by the cold temperature. When a dog consumes something very cold, such as ice cream or frozen treats, the coldness can trigger a brain freeze response.

It's important to note that not all dogs may experience brain freeze, and the sensitivity to cold may vary among individuals. Some dogs may be more prone to brain freeze than others.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has A Brain Freeze?

Recognizing if your dog is experiencing a brain freeze can be challenging as dogs cannot verbally communicate their discomfort. However, there are some signs that may indicate your dog is having a brain freeze.
These signs include:

1. Sudden pause in eating or drinking
If your dog suddenly stops eating or drinking and appears to be hesitant to continue, it could be a sign of discomfort.

2. Head shaking or pawing at the head
Dogs experiencing brain freeze may shake their head or paw at their head in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.

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3. Whining, yelping, or showing signs of discomfort
Your dog may vocalize their discomfort through whining, whimpering, or yelping sounds. They may also exhibit signs of general discomfort, such as restlessness or pacing.

4. Pawing at the mouth or face
Dogs may instinctively paw at their mouth or face when experiencing pain or discomfort. They may also rub their face against objects or surfaces.

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5. Momentary disorientation or confusion
During a brain freeze episode, your dog may show signs of momentary disorientation or confusion. They may pause, look around, or appear momentarily unsure of their surroundings.

It's important to note that these signs can also be indicative of other issues or discomfort, so it's essential to consider the context and observe your dog's behaviour closely. If you suspect your dog is experiencing a brain freeze, try to provide a calm and comfortable environment and avoid giving them any more cold substances. If the symptoms persist or worsen, it's advisable to consult a veterinarian for further evaluation.

What Can You Do To Help?

Tips for Preventing Brain Freezing in Dogs:

1. Avoid feeding them very cold treats
Refrain from giving your dog frozen treats like ice cream or icy popsicles. These can trigger brain freeze. Opt for treats that are at a moderate temperature instead.

2. Allow treats to warm up slightly
If you do give your dog a frozen treat, allow it to thaw for a few minutes before giving it to them. This can help reduce the extreme coldness that can lead to brain freeze.

3. Offer treats in small portions
Rather than giving your dog a large amount of a cold treat all at once, offer it in small, manageable portions. This can help prevent them from consuming it too quickly and potentially triggering a brain freeze.

4. Monitor their consumption
Keep an eye on how your dog consumes treats and ensure they are not eating or drinking too quickly. Fast consumption can increase the likelihood of brain freeze.

5. Stick to moderate temperatures
Offer treats and water to your dog at a moderate temperature, neither too hot nor too cold. This can help prevent any sudden temperature changes that may induce brain freeze.

6. Provide alternatives
Instead of cold treats, consider offering your dog treats that are at room temperature or slightly chilled. You can also explore other enjoyable activities or toys to engage your dog without the risk of brain freeze.

Here is one healthy alternative for your dog you may like:
Puainta® Dog Bone Toothbrush, Dog Dental Chews to Clean TeethPuainta™ Teething Bar - Dogs , enhances oral and gastrointestinal trac

Tips For Treatment If Dogs Unfortunately Catching Brain Freeze:

1. Stay calm
It's essential to remain calm and reassure your dog during a brain freeze episode. Your calm presence can help them relax and feel more at ease.

2. Remove the cold stimulus
If your dog is consuming a frozen treat when the brain freeze occurs, remove it from its mouth to stop the exposure to the extreme cold.

3. Offer room-temperature water
Provide your dog with a small amount of room temperature water to help normalize the temperature in their mouth and alleviate the brain freeze sensation.
Can Dogs Get Brain Freeze?

4. Create a comfortable environment
Ensure your dog is in a comfortable and quiet space. Minimize any sources of stress or distractions that could exacerbate their discomfort.

Creating a Calm Environment for your Dog

5. Monitor their behaviour
Observe your dog closely to ensure the symptoms are subsiding. Most brain freeze episodes in dogs are short-lived and should resolve within a few minutes.

6. Do not offer additional cold substances
Avoid giving your dog any more cold treats or liquids until they have fully recovered from the brain freeze episode.

7. Consult a veterinarian if needed
If your dog's discomfort persists, they exhibit concerning symptoms, or you are uncertain about their condition, it's best to consult a veterinarian for further evaluation and guidance.

Remember, brain freeze in dogs is generally harmless and self-limiting. With time, the discomfort should subside, and your dog will return to normal. Providing a calm and supportive environment can help them recover more quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Brain Freeze In Dogs Life-threatening?
No, brain freeze in dogs is not considered life-threatening. While it can be uncomfortable and momentarily distressing for the dog, it does not pose a significant risk to their health or well-being.

Can Brain Freeze Causes Damage In Dogs?
The duration of brain freeze in dogs is usually short-lived, and the symptoms typically subside within a few minutes. It is important to note that brain freeze in dogs is generally harmless and not a cause for significant concern. However, it is best to avoid intentionally exposing your dog to extremely cold substances to prevent discomfort or potential injury.
How to keep your dog happy and healthy | RAC WA

Final Thoughts:

Now it is hot summer again. With high temperatures outdoors, we always want to cool ourselves down with air-conditioners and enjoy some cold food, such as ice cream and fronzen fruits. But it is prudential to feed your dog with this cold food to help them cool off since it may cause brain freeze in dogs. Please note that being cautious about feeding food plays a crucial role in our adorable dogs’ health maintenance.


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