It's a hot summer day and your eyes dart between your dog and the vanilla ice cream cone. They know that unlike chocolate, vanilla does not harm them. But then you think back to your childhood when you gulped down an ice cream cone and were in searing pain from your brain freezing.
Can Dogs Get Brain Freeze? The jury is still out on whether dogs can get brain freezes. But have dogstrigeminal nerves as in humans, that's the route the brain freeze pain signals take.
I'll give you more background on how Brain Freeze works, what your dog might look like if he's suffering from Brain Freeze, and strategies to keep him cool in the summer.
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The science behind brain freezes
Brain freezes go by many names, including ice cream headaches and cold stimulus headaches. But the scientific term for brain freeze issphenopalatinische Ganglioneuralgie.
As almost everyone has experienced, brain freezes occur when you eat somethingtoo coldtoo fast. However, to initiate a brain freeze,something cold must touch the upper palate of the mouth.
Researchers still need to do more research before they can come to a consensus about why brain freezes occur. However, a leading theory holds that the blood vessels of the palate lie in the roof of the mouthnarrowtoo fast, leading to nerve pain.
The palate contains many sensitive nerves. That coupled with rapid temperature changes between yourbody temperatureand cold food or drink triggers vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels.
By utilizing the trigeminal nervepain signalsmove throughout the body, particularly in the forehead area where these nerves are abundant.
Therefore, to relieve the pain of brain freeze, the nerves must have awarmstimulus to dilate blood vessels; even air will do to warm the mouth.
The good news is that studies show that if your dog has a brain freeze and is anything like a human, the chances of the brain freeze persisting are highunder 10 seconds.
Signs Your Dog Might Have Brain Freeze
Although there is no scientific evidence that dogs get brain breezes, it stands to reason that it can happen since dogs have palates with blood vessels and trigeminal nerves.
So when you give them a cold treat or fill their water bowl with itice cubesand notice that they are exhibiting strange behaviors immediately after using it, there is a good chance they are experiencing a brain freeze.
Some possible signs of brain freeze in dogscontain:
- You stop moving.
- fluctuation possible
If these are symptomsin the interim, which only lasts a few seconds, one should assume that Fido had a brain freeze. But if your dog shows uppersistent strange behaviorafter a cold you should take them to the vet.
How Can You Help Your Dog Overcome Brain Freeze?
If you've observed your dog swallowing something cold and then acting strangely immediately afterwards, brain freeze could be the culprit. In this case, you can help them overcome it faster by usingencourage themdrinklukewarm to warm water.
If that doesn't work, you can try a more practical approach. But to be fair, these are strategies that work best for humans - by the time you get around to helping your dog, his brain freeze will likely be over.
However, two strategies that are effective for humans and that you can try on your dog are:
- Put your hand over your mouth and nose.
- Rubbing the palate.
The goal in both cases is to help your dog's palatewarm upso that the blood vessels dilate.
Health issues that aren't brain freezes
If you're wondering, "Can dogs get brain freezes, or does my dog have some other medical condition?" It's hard to know unless you take them to the vet.
However, one of the telltale signs of Brain Freeze is that it passes quickly, usually in less than 10 seconds. But if your dog shows uppersistent symptoms, there may be a more significant health issue at play.
Lethargy, imbalance, and even difficulty walking due to a condition like arthritis can superficially look like a reaction to brain freeze, when there really is a deeper problem.
You know your dog best. So if you suspect her behavior is wrong, I recommend taking her to the vet.
The best way to give your dog cold treats
Just because your dog might suffer a brain freeze doesn't mean you can't give ita coldOn a hot day.
So the rule of thumb is if you're giving them cold food, do sosmall pieces. This way you prevent your dog from swallowing too much cold too quickly and triggering nerve pain from his palate.
Alternatively, I will not prevent you from chilling your water with ice cubes. This is particularly beneficial forDog bowls outdoorsto prevent the water willtoo warm.
However,ration the number of ice cubesyou pocket yoursDog's water bowl.
There's no need to pack it to the brim; A handful of ice cubes bobbing up and down in the water should keep the water cool enough without raising the temperature too much to cause a brain freeze.
As a word of cautionIt's best not to feed your dog ice cream– Brain freeze aside. That's because many dogs are lactose intolerant, which some ice cream flavors can containpoisonousflavors andthe fatAndZuckercan lead to obesity and other health problems.
The good news is that they existdog safe ice creamso your pooch can join in the summer fun. Many grocery stores sell dog-friendly ice cream in the freezer section.
Tips to keep your dog cool in hot weather
There are many strategies you can use to help your dog stay cool when it's hot outside without risking a brain freeze. Some of the bestwayscontain:
- Make sure they have access to shade.
- Don't exercise too much.
- Buy a cooling bed.
- Freeze or cool a toy.
- Offer them small frozen treats.
If you have the space, it's also a good idea to have a small child availableSwimming poolfor your dog, preferably in the shade. That way, they can go in and cool off whenever the feeling hits.
Dogs don't sweat through their skin like humans do, except through theirspaw padon occasion. Instead, dogs thermoregulate throughgasp. Air flowing over their tongue and throat creates a similar sensation as a breeze on our sweaty skin.
For this reason you shouldnever puta muzzleon your dog in hot weatherunless it is for security reasons. And even then, it should only be for a short time.
The final result
Can Dogs Get Brain Freeze? There areno proofshows that dogs can get brain freezes, but it seems possible based on the shared biology humans and dogs have for the factors that trigger brain freezes.
If your dog exhibits strange behavior almost immediately after eating something cold and recovers within 10 seconds or so of it, that's itsecureassume they had a brain freeze. Otherwise, I recommend if they're showing prolonged symptoms of weird behavior after eating something coldtake her to the vetFor peace of mind.