Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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Dogs Food General Food

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

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Anna Olson
Jun 15 ·

Can dogs eat ice cream? You may be wondering whether your pup should indulge in some ice cream to beat the summer heat. You might also want to share your ice cream cone with your furry friend. Though a lot of dogs can tolerate a small amount of vanilla ice cream on occasion, the truth is ice cream doesn’t make the best frozen treat for your dog.

All dogs are lactose intolerant to some degree. This means they lack the enzyme lactase, which helps animals digest dairy products. Eating ice cream, even just a little bit, is likely to cause some digestive discomfort in your pooch.

Let’s learn more about dogs and ice cream and explore some alternatives to the summer frozen treat.

can dogs eat ice cream

Dogs and Lactose Intolerance

Even though puppies grow up drinking milk, by the time they’re old enough to eat solid food they’ve lost the ability to digest it. Weaning a puppy stops the production of the enzyme lactase in the body. Though they might enjoy ice cream for its cold temperature, the fat, and sugar, this dairy treat is likely to cause digestive discomfort.

Eating ice cream might cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, gas, and loose stools in a dog. If your dog has an allergic reaction to dairy, it might also cause a painful and itchy skin rash.

So can dogs eat ice cream? Though your dog might be able to tolerate a small amount of plain vanilla ice cream, it’s best to look for alternatives if you want to give your pup a frozen treat.

Sugar and Sweeteners

In addition to the dairy, ice creams and commercial frozen yogurts are loaded with sugar. It’s best not to feed your dog high quantities of sugar. Short term, it could cause hyperactivity. Over time, repeated consumption of sugar may cause obesity and exacerbate other related problems, like diabetes and heart diseases.

Even if an ice cream claims it’s sugar free, it still won’t be safe. Many sugar-free products contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is not safe for dogs, especially not in large quantities. A dog who has eaten xylitol might experience an insulin release, which could lead to life-threatening hypoglycemia. If your dog’s blood sugar is too low, vomiting is usually the first symptom, followed by tiredness and uncoordinated movement.

If you suspect your dog has eaten xylitol, contact your veterinarian right away.

Ice Cream Flavors To Avoid

There are several ice cream flavors to avoid giving to your dog, period. Chocolate is an obvious flavor to avoid, along with any ice creams with chocolate chunks, chips, or ribbons. Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be deadly for dogs, and caffeine, which is not good for them, either.

Coffee and green tea ice creams contain caffeine. Dogs are more sensitive to caffeine than humans, and even a small amount could kill a small dog or cat.

Grapes and raisins are a no-go. They can cause acute kidney failure and death in both dogs and cats. Macadamia nuts are also poisonous, though experts are not sure why.

If you are giving your pup the occasional spoonful of ice cream, it’s best to stick to an all-natural vanilla or a fruit flavor that is safe for dogs.

Ice Cream Alternatives For Dogs

Thankfully, there are a few dog-safe alternatives to ice cream. You can either make them yourself, or buy them commercially-made.

Popular brand Ben & Jerry’s have released two flavor varieties of Doggie Desserts. They’re completely dairy free, made from coconut oil, peanuts, and sunflower seed paste. Other brands, like Frosty Paws and Pooch Creamery, provide safe alternatives, too.

If you prefer making frozen treats yourself, there are plenty of copycat recipes online. One easy alternative is to blend bananas and freeze them. You’ll get a creamy banana treat perfect for your dog. Since bananas are high in sugar, you’ll want to feed this one only as an occasional treat. Unlike ice cream, however, this frozen banana treat will provide all the nutritional benefits of the fruit, like potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.

Even though yogurt is dairy-based, the fermentation process gets rid of a lot of the lactose. Instead of buying sugar-loaded frozen yogurt, you can freeze plain, fat-free yogurt for your pooch. Although it’s easier to digest than ice cream, you’ll still want to be careful with this frozen yogurt. Your dog might still be unable to handle much of it.

Ice Cream Isn’t The Safest For Dogs

Now you know the answer to the question can dogs eat ice cream? The answer is yes, but only under certain circumstances, and usually only a small amount of a safe flavor.

Since ice cream is dairy-based, your pup will probably have a hard time digesting it. After puppyhood, adult dogs lose their ability to digest milk. In addition, the sugar content of ice cream isn’t the best for repeated consumption, and artificial sweeteners are often toxic for dogs. There are definitely toxic flavors of ice cream, too, especially chocolate or anything with caffeine.

Fortunately, you don’t have to completely leave your dog out of your sundae parties. With plenty of dog-safe frozen treat alternatives, you can keep your dog cool this summer.

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WRITTEN BY
Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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