The answer to the question of whether dogs can eat ice cream is yes and no. Although ice cream isn’t necessarily toxic for dogs, it’s also not a healthy snack for them.
It can be harmful to your pet if given in large quantities due to its lactose, high fat, and sugar content. There may be also other treats that are better for your dog’s diet.
That said, a few licks of dog-friendly vanilla ice cream and homemade sorbet as an occasional treat should be fine for your pet.
Just make sure that there’s no xylitol content, as this can be toxic to your dog.
This article discusses a few things you need to know before feeding your dog too much ice cream.
It also further explains when it’s safe to give a ice cream to your canine and how much ice cream is OK to treat your pup on a hot day.
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream Safely?
Dogs can eat ice cream that has been made explicitly for them.
There are some easy homemade pet-friendly ice cream recipes you can make at home to ensure that you don’t include any ingredients that can be dangerous for your dog.
Dog-friendly ice cream is made without additional fat, sugar, or toxic ingredients like chocolate or raisins.
Why Is Ice Cream Bad for Dogs?
Ice cream should not become a staple part of your dog’s diet because it does carry some health risks.
It can lead to an upset stomach, or worse, obesity or diabetes if consumed in large quantities.
1. Dogs can have a more difficult time digesting milk from ice cream
Dairy products, ice cream included, contain higher lactose, so it’s not easier for most adult dogs to digest them.
Most dogs stop producing their own lactase, an enzyme that breaks down sugars in milk after they are weaned and begin eating solids.
Too much lactose can cause some pets to suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
2. Ice cream has high levels of sugar that are not good for dogs
One hundred grams of vanilla ice cream contains about 21 grams of sugar. This alone makes it dangerous for diabetic dogs.
If you’re going to give your dog ice cream, make sure it has been created especially for him, with no added sugar.
3. Ice cream with xylitol is toxic to dogs
No-sugar or sugar-free ice creams are not a good alternative for dogs.
This is because these often include the artificial sweetener known as xylitol which can be fatal for dogs.
Consuming xylitol can cause a sudden, dangerous drop in your dog’s blood sugar levels.
Low blood sugar can cause confusion, lethargy, and even seizures. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can be life-threatening.
Xylitol can also cause extensive liver damage in dogs.
4. Ice cream contains flavors and toppings that are dangerous for dogs
If you’re thinking of adding ice cream to your pet’s diet, you need to avoid some common toppings and flavors that are dangerous for dogs.
For instance, chocolate can be toxic for dogs.
This is because most chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, two toxic chemicals for pets as they speed up the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system beyond normal levels.
Some ice creams also contain raisins. Grapes, raisins, and currants can poison your dog and lead to kidney failure and death in a matter of fewer than 72 hours.
Also, most ice creams contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives which can cause allergies in dogs.
What Kind of Ice Cream Can You Give to Dogs?
If you want to share ice cream with your dog, it’s best to be familiar with what kind of ice cream you can give to your furry friend.
Let’s take a look at the different types of ice cream products to see which ones would or would not be suitable for your pet.
1. Can dogs eat ice cream cones?
Dogs should not eat ice cream cones as these can also have a high sugar content which is not good for your dog.
Ice cream cones are also high in carbohydrates which can be turned into sugar in the body.
They might also contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is toxic to dogs.
2. Can dogs eat ice cream sandwiches?
No, dogs shouldn’t be fed ice cream sandwiches made for humans.
Ice cream sandwiches contain a lot of sugar and preservatives that are bad for your dog’s health.
They also have high amounts of fats that can cause pancreatitis, which can be painful and even fatal.
Some dogs may also struggle to digest the products used in ice cream sandwiches due to the gluten content.
This could result in constipation or gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, weakness, and abdominal pain.
3. Can dogs eat chocolate ice cream?
As mentioned, dogs should not eat chocolate or chocolate ice cream.
Chocolate contains chemicals that belong to a group known as methylxanthines.
Methylxanthines work to inhibit the activation of adenosine receptors responsible for making us feel sleepy and less active.
These chemicals are so dangerous for dogs because canines process them very slowly, meaning it can take between 10 and 17 hours for their bodies to eliminate just half of these chemicals.
4. Can dogs eat milkshakes?
Dogs can eat milkshakes that have been made specifically for them.
Store-bought milkshakes will have too much fat and sugar to suit your dog, but you can try making pet-friendly milkshakes using yogurt and peanut butter.
Yogurt is one of the better dairy products for dogs as the bacteria used during the fermentation of yogurt helps to break down the product’s lactose.
The probiotics found in yogurt also help with digestion.
5. Can dogs eat vegan ice cream?
Vegan ice cream is potentially better for your dog as it’s often free from dairy and contains less sugar.
However, you still need to look at the ingredients of the vegan ice cream, as some include nut products that can be toxic to your dog.
5. Can dogs eat ice cream cookies?
Home-made ice cream cookies using plain oats are entirely safe for your dog to eat, and a yogurt and oats mixture can make a great topper for your dog’s kibble and a good ice cream alternative.
Oats are an excellent source of fiber, nutrients, and vitamins, and for this reason, are also included in commercial dog food recipes.
That said, many cookies don’t just consist of plain oats or grains.
They also have added sugar, salts, and sometimes even toxic ingredients for dogs like raisins and macadamia nuts.
Also, cookies are high in carbohydrates and calories, so even if homemade should only be fed to your pup in moderation.
Is There Any Way You Can Feed Fido Some Ice Cream and Reduce the Health Risks?
To reduce the health risks of ice cream to your dog, try making your own without sugar, fat, and toxic ingredients.
You can also make a delicious ice cream alternative for your pet using plain Greek yogurt mixed with peanut butter or cashew butter and various dog-safe toppings such as strawberries, blueberries, and coconut.
What Ice Cream flavors are safe for dogs?
When serving ice cream to your dog, try to keep it as plain as possible.
Avoid adding a variety of ingredients like whipped cream and marshmallows to your dog’s ice cream.
These toppings don’t add any nutritional benefits and can put unhealthy extra pounds on your dog.
1. Vanilla Ice Cream
Plain non-fat vanilla ice cream isn’t beneficial for your dog, but the odd lick now and again likely won’t do any harm to your dog.
If you do want to feed ice cream to your pet, be wary of the high fat and sugar content, and bear in mind that even plain vanilla ice cream includes about 207 calories per 100 grams.
2. Homemade Sorbet
Fruit-flavored sorbet is a better choice for your dog due to the fact that it doesn’t contain dairy and has fewer calories.
That said, most store-bought sorbets still have high levels of sugar. In fact, sorbet can have 20grams more sugar than full-fat ice cream.
You can get around this by making your own pupsicles for your pet at home using blended plain fruit.
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream with Certain Amounts?
If you want to give your dog some ice cream, keep it to small amounts and only occasionally.
Opt for plain, unsweetened ice cream that doesn’t include any xylitol in the recipe.
It may be best to make the ice cream yourself as then you’ll know exactly what was used to make it.
Just remember ice cream is very high in fat. You will find about 11g of fat in every 100 grams of ice cream.
While dogs need fat in their diet, fat should only account for between 15 and 20 percent of your pet’s diet.
How Much Ice Cream Can a Dog Eat?
The exact amount of ice cream your dog can eat depends on what type of ice cream it is, what else your dog had to eat that day, and how big your pet is.
To be safe, a few licks of dog-friendly vanilla ice cream or homemade sorbet are recommended and should be given occasionally.
How much ice cream can smaller dogs eat?
Smaller dogs will likely have less tolerance to ice cream than large dogs. Eating just one spoon of ice cream can cause a severely upset stomach for little dogs.
Giving your dog a lick or two of pet-friendly ice cream is OK as an occasional treat.
How much ice cream can large dog breeds eat?
Large dog breeds can have two or more licks of dog-friendly ice cream as a rare treat – not daily.
Be sure to follow the 10% rule, which means any unbalanced treats, like ice cream, should only account for ten percent of your pet’s daily calories.
What Happens if Your Dog Eats Too Much Ice Cream?
As you have read, if your dog consumes too much ice cream, it will likely be prone to gaining excess weight, which could lead to heart and immune system complications.
Eating too many dairy products, ice cream included, could also cause your pet vomiting, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal upset.
What to do if your dog ate ice cream on its own?
There is no guarantee of how your dog will react to eating ice cream, and he may have no reaction at all or may experience signs of gastric distress.
If your dog eats ice cream with toxic ingredients, it is best to contact your vet right away.
Just like humans, dogs can also develop an allergy to the ingredients in ice cream, such as lactose.
Dogs with an allergic reaction can experience itchiness, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, indigestion, and possibly get an ear infection.
If your dog has eaten a large amount of ice cream and is showing any of the above symptoms, contact your vet right away.
Your vet will be able to advise on the best course of action for your particular pet and situation.
How Do I Prevent My Dog From Eating Ice Cream?
The best way to ensure your dog doesn’t consume ice cream is to see to it that he can’t reach or get into ice cream when you have it at home.
Also, avoid feeding your dog food directly from your plate as this could lead to a bad habit where he grabs what he shouldn’t when you are not looking.
Also, be sure that all family members, including children and staff or workers at your house, are also aware that your dog should never be fed ice cream with toxic ingredients.
Are There Any Health Benefits of Ice Cream?
While ice cream itself doesn’t really have any nutritional benefits to your pet, there are some benefits to feeding your dog some of the ingredients commonly used to make ice cream or frozen yogurt.
For instance, yogurt contains probiotics and live cultures of bacteria that help support the digestive system.
While this bacteria is found naturally in your dog’s body, often your dog won’t have enough good bacteria, perhaps due to illness, diet, and antibiotic use.
Eating foods like yogurt that contain probiotics can help restore this balance and support better gut health.
What are Some Dog-Friendly Ice Cream Alternatives?
If you decide against spoiling your dog with ice cream, we got you. Here are some healthy alternatives that you may consider giving as an occasional treat to your pet.
1. Frozen Bananas or Nice Cream
Bananas are an excellent treat for dogs packed full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Magnesium.
This versatile fruit can be blended into a smoothie with other dog-safe fruits like strawberries and blueberries, frozen, or mashed up as a tasty topper for your dog’s daily kibble.
2. Plain ice cubes
Plain ice cubes can help hydrate your dog during the hot summer months to keep him regular.
Hydrating ice cubes will help prevent dehydration that saps your dog’s energy levels during training.
Compared to the fancy dog treats available in-store, ice cubes are also great for budget-conscious owners.
3. Fat-Free Plain Yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt is the safest option for your pet. Greek yogurt has lower levels of lactose and so is better for pets that struggle to digest dairy.
Try and opt for non-fat or low-fat varieties and stay away from flavored Greek yogurt that has added sugars and sweeteners that can make your dog sick.
What about Pet-Safe Ice Cream Marketed to Dogs?
Most pet-safe ice cream isn’t actually ice cream but plain yogurt mixed with dog-safe ingredients like strawberries and peanut butter.
Many gourmet dog treats also use carob in their recipes as an alternative to chocolate.
Carob powder looks and tastes very similar to cocoa powder and so makes a great pet-friendly substitute.
What’s the Verdict? Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?
As discussed, dogs can eat ice cream as long as it’s plain and unsweetened and it doesn’t contain xylitol or any artificial flavors.
Be sure to give it to your dog in small amounts and as an occasional treat.
It may be best to make the ice cream yourself as then you’ll know exactly that the used ingredients to make it are safe for your pet.
Just be careful; before introducing a new food like ice cream to your dog, it’s best to consult with your vet.
This is because dogs with certain diseases, like obesity and diabetes, might not do well on a diet packed with ice cream, while many dogs also have a problem digesting dairy products.
Does your pet love the taste of ice cream? We’d love to hear all about your furry family member and how he enjoys his pet-friendly ice cream in the comments below.