Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

You might have seen those cute videos of puppies eating ice cream on your social media page. Or how about videos of dogs chasing ice cream trucks and getting a dollop of a vanilla swirl? All those viral videos can make anybody go “aww” and wonder if they can feed their pooch too.

Ice cream is a tasty treat that anybody can enjoy, no matter what age they are. Around 291.09 million Americans consumed ice cream last 2020, and the number does not stop rising. Many kids and adults enjoy a bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day. So if people can enjoy a serving of cold, creamy goodness, can dogs have a taste too?

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

If you pay close attention to those viral videos of dogs eating ice cream, you might notice a pattern. Most, if not all, dogs are served vanilla ice cream.

Some dogs, especially younger pups, can tolerate plain vanilla ice cream. Granted, not all vanilla ice creams are safe. Owners still need to be cautious of what ingredients are in their treats (more on that later.) So serving a small amount of vanilla ice cream to your dog won’t immediately cause any adverse side effects.

But don’t give them their own bowl just yet! While a spoon of ice cream won’t do any long-term harm to your dog, it’s also inadvisable to give them a large amount of dessert. We compiled 3 reasons why you should never feed your dog ice cream. These reasons can discourage owners, especially beginners, from giving dangerous human food to their dogs.

But don’t be upset that your furry friend isn’t getting a treat. At the end of this article, we will also give 3 alternatives that are safe for your pooch. And not only are they healthier, but they’re also chilly and perfect for a summer day.

3 Reasons Why You Should Never Feed Your Dog Ice Cream

Sorry buster, but the sweets are reserved for the owners.

1 Dogs Are Lactose Intolerant

According to the American Kennel Club, when a puppy is weaned, its body produces fewer enzymes that can break down lactose. Thus, adult dogs are naturally lactose intolerant to some degree.

Ice cream is rich in dairy, thus making it a big source of lactose. Unfortunately, that also means that it can potentially upset a dog’s stomach. More specifically, dogs can experience side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and stomach pain. That’s why it’s important to limit dairy consumption in your pooch’s daily diet, especially if it’s ice cream.

Which begs the question: what about vegan ice cream? While vegan ice cream is dairy-free, it’s still not a good option for dogs. Vegan ice cream is made of nut-based milk, which might cause allergies in canines. So it’s always important to read the label.

2 Certain Ingredients Are Toxic to Dogs

Let’s say that your dog can tolerate dairy. Does that mean that ice cream is safe? Not necessarily. You also have to consider the ingredients of the ice cream that you’re getting.

When it comes to flavors, we already established that vanilla is the safest bet. But what about other flavors? The biggest no-no for dogs is chocolate. Chocolate contains two compounds, namely theobromine, and caffeine, and both of these are dangerous in dogs. The richer and bitter the chocolate is, the more toxic it is for dogs. Any form of chocolate on ice cream, be it the flavor, topping, or sauce, can cause unfavorable reactions in your pooch. Chocolate toxicity is a major problem that needs immediate veterinary treatment. Common symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, high blood pressure, tremors, high heart rate, and heart failure.

Nuts are also something that you should look out for, especially if you’re feeding something to your dog. Common nuts that are harmful to dogs include walnuts, pistachios, macadamia, and pecans. Nuts are high in fat and can lead to pancreatic problems in dogs. Certain nuts, like macadamia, can cause disruptions in your dog’s muscles and nerves. Plus, small slices of nuts are also potential choking hazards. So avoid anything with nuts if you want to give your dog a treat.

Finally, we need to talk about xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in a lot of ice cream. For humans, xylitol is a fairly harmless additive. For dogs, however, xylitol can cause low blood sugar and liver failure. Just a small amount of xylitol can cause massive problems for your pet. Look out for signs like panting, collapsing, and staggering. Like other toxic ingredients in this article, immediate medical attention is needed.

Dogs’ bodies are more sensitive compared to humans, so they can’t eat the same food as we can. And these ingredients aren’t the only things you should look after when reading the labels.

3 Ice Cream is Full of Fat, Sugar, and Preservatives

It’s no secret that ice cream is not the healthiest food in the world. That’s because ice cream is loaded with fat, sugar, and preservatives. And just like humans, too much of those things can be harmful to your pet.

All these things combined can lead to different health complications in dogs. Too much of them can cause obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in dogs. And even if it’s not ice cream, any food that lacks nutrients should never be given in excess to dogs. What our canine friends need is a balanced diet of healthy and nutrient-dense food.

It’s not to say that dogs should never have fat nor sugar. In fact, they are also necessary for keeping a dog alive. But a diet of only these two, plus preservatives, is a recipe for disaster. And so, it’s important to never include ice cream in your dog’s diet in the first place.

Safer Alternatives for Dogs

It feels unfair to keep your dog away from the fun, though. It’s so tempting to give them a taste, especially when they bring out those adorable puppy eyes.

We all can’t resist giving our pups a treat once in a while. The good news is that you no longer have to feel guilty! Your dog can also enjoy a refreshing cold treat that is safe and just as delicious.

Here are 3 safer alternatives to ice cream that your dog can have:


One of the easiest ways to cool your dog off is by giving them frozen, fat-free plain yogurt. According to the AKC, yogurt contains less lactose because of fermentation, making them more tummy-friendly for your dog. Plain yogurt is also healthier since it’s rich in calcium and protein.

When buying yogurt, avoid getting commercialized frozen yogurt with flavorings. Like ice cream, these yogurts are full of sugar and can cause problems with indigestion. It’s also a good idea to read the label before buying to avoid any allergies. Also, if your dog can’t handle dairy products like yogurt, it’s best to try out other options.

Frozen Fruit Popsicles

Homemade popsicles (or popsicles) are a safe treat that you can easily make at home for your pooch. You only need a few ingredients and a popsicle mold to make this yummy dessert today.

Fruit popsicles are healthier than ice cream because they provide more nutritional value to your dog. And because they’re homemade, you can control what ingredients go into your popsicles.

This simple recipe from Cook It Real Good is so delicious that you and your dog will both enjoy it. (But make sure you don’t accidentally eat the dog biscuit.) You can also try out different fruits with your popsicles, like apples, blueberries, or cantaloupes.

“Nice Cream”

Finally, we have something delicious that both you and your dog can enjoy. A great alternative for ice cream is the creatively named “nice cream.” And the best part is that it only needs one ingredient: bananas.

You can make nice cream at home today. Just freeze some ripe bananas, blend them in the food processor, and scoop. It’s that simple! And because it’s made out of bananas, your dog can safely eat them along with you.

Bananas are one of the few fruits that are safe for dog consumption. Bananas are rich in potassium, fiber, and both vitamins B6 and C. They are a great fruit if eaten in moderation.

Those are just some examples of tasty treats that you can prepare for your little furry pal. Of course, the Internet is full of other creative snacks that are great ice cream alternatives. But we focused on the desserts that you can easily afford and prepare in the kitchen. And best of all, these recipes are all edible for you and your pup!

Final Thoughts

Ice cream is a tasty treat that humans love. Unfortunately, the story is different for your dog. But while dogs can’t enjoy the creamy goodness of ice cream, there are still other ways that they can cool off in the summer. But owners should always remember to have these treats in moderation. Not only for their loyal pals but for themselves as well.

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?
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