On a hot summer’s day, there is nothing better than being able to enjoy a sweet ice cream. On a day trip to the seaside, you may have even seen a dog happily lapping up a fallen ice cream cone from the floor and then found your self wondering – can dogs eat ice cream?
In this article, we will take a closer look at whether it is safe to feed ice cream to your dog, what the health implications are, and what alternative summer treats you can offer your dog to help keep them cool.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What is ice cream made of?
- Is it safe for a dog to eat ice cream?
- Why is ice cream bad for your dog?
- Alternatives to ice cream for dogs
Yes, dogs can eat ice cream in moderation, occasionally.
Feeding your dog ice cream could lead to gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting. As a treat, you can give your dogs a small scoop as long as it’s not sugar-free.
What Is Ice Cream Made Of?
Traditional ice cream is made from milk, cream, sugar, and flavorings such as vanilla or chocolate.
The ingredients are mixed and then frozen while mixing until it becomes a soft and creamy dessert, traditionally enjoyed in a wafer cone, and served with a stick of milk chocolate flake.
See Also: Can dogs eat butter?
Nowadays, you can enjoy ice cream in a mind-blowing variety of different flavors with a constant amount of toppings to choose from, including candy, sugar, chocolate, fruit, sauces, and syrups. Ice cream is often served alongside other desserts such as apple pie or banana fritters.
You can even enjoy ice cream as a vegan, with many dairy-free options available made from a base of frozen bananas.
Low-calorie ice cream versions are made from frozen yogurt and artificial sweeteners instead of milk, cream, and sugar.
Is It Safe For A Dog To Eat Ice Cream?
Ice cream is not a recommended treat for your dog, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t eat it given a chance! Dogs love ice cream, and they would happily eat as much of it as it is available.
It can often be tempting to offer the end of your ice cream cone to your dog or even offer them a big lick off the top while you are eating it still.
Still, the best advice is to avoid this to avoid giving your dog an upset stomach and potentially making yourself ill too.
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Your dog may love you for the ice cream, but they won’t appreciate the bellyache that comes later, although they won’t be able to link one to the other, and therefore they will never learn from their mistake and be quite happy to take ice cream from you again and again.
Generally speaking, traditional ice cream may upset your dog’s gastrointestinal system, but it won’t kill your dog or pose any serious threat to their health or life.
However, most ice creams that we eat today contain many more ingredients than just milk, cream, and sugar, and some of these ingredients could indeed be dangerous for your dog.
Keep reading to find out more about the health implications of feeding ice cream to your dog.
Why Is Ice Cream Bad For Your Dog?
The most apparent reason that ice cream is bad for your dog is the extremely high sugar content. Ice cream is loaded with sugar, which is why we love and crave it so much.
Dogs should not be fed any foods that contain sugar, as it can become straightforward for calorie levels to soar and your dog to gain weight.
It is weight gain that will inevitably lead to a whole host of other health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and strain on joints leading to exacerbated arthritis symptoms.
Sugar is also extremely bad for teeth, especially for dogs who are unlikely to have the best oral care because let’s face it – do you brush your dog’s teeth twice a day?
Sugar can lead to plaque, tartar, cavities, and all sorts of unpleasant and not to mention painful oral health issues.
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The worst thing is that you won’t know about them until it’s too late, because dogs are experts at pretending that everything is excellent, and they may show no symptoms of having toothache or pain inside of their mouth.
This can be dangerous and has lead to many cases of dogs lashing out and biting people simply because the person or child didn’t know that the dog had an extremely painful tooth abscess.
Some ice cream also contains artificial sweeteners, particularly in the case of lower-calorie ice creams or those made with frozen yogurt.
You might think that substituting sugar for artificial sweeteners is a good thing and that this might make the ice cream better for your dog, but don’t be so sure.
Can dogs eat ice cream?
One of the most common artificial sweeteners, xylitol, is extremely toxic to dogs. If you have ice cream that states that it is sugarless, be extra cautious because it could turn out to be even more detrimental to your dog’s health than the ice cream made with sugar!
The reason that ice cream often gives dogs a dodgy stomach is that dogs’ bodies were not designed to digest milk after being weaned as puppies.
If you ignore the advice and feed ice cream to your dog that is made with milk and cream, it could lead to gas and bloating, constipation, or vomiting, and diarrhea, all of which will be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant for your dog.
Hopefully, nobody wants a dog to suffer just for the taste of a sweet treat.
You should also be aware that some dogs are dairy intolerant or have an allergy to dairy products, and so foods like ice cream can be very dangerous, potentially causing an allergic reaction, and needing emergency treatment.
The final thing you should be cautious of when thinking of feeding ice cream to your dog is the extra ingredients. One of the most popular ice cream flavors is chocolate, and chocolate is toxic to dogs.
This is because theobromine is a component in chocolate that cannot be efficiently processed in your dog’s body.
Alternatives To Ice Cream For Dogs?
If you still find yourself feeling guilty eating your delicious ice cream while your dog looks up at you so longingly, there are plenty of other ways that your dog can enjoy a cooling treat that is perfectly safe and just as tasty as your ice cream is to you.
Here are some great ideas for alternatives to ice cream for your dog:
- Frozen yogurt – It is, of course, vital that you choose the right yogurt for your dog, but frozen yogurt can be a great way of giving your dog “ice cream” in the summer. There are even doggie ice creams that are made commercially, and that you can buy from a good pet store or dog-friendly café for your dog at the right time of the year. If you are making your own frozen yogurt ice cream for the dog, buy plain unsweetened yogurt, and put it in your home freezer. Be aware that not all dogs will be able to tolerate yogurt, even if it is plain and unsweetened.
- “Nice-cream” – This is a term created to describe the popular vegan ice cream recipes that don’t contain dairy products at all. Instead, frozen bananas, blueberries or strawberries are blended into a cream consistency and enjoyed with toppings. You can very safely feed this to your dog, obviously minus the toppings. All you need are bananas, a freezer to freeze them in, and a food processor. The best thing about frozen bananas is that they create a yummy cold dessert that also has nutritional value for you and your dog because it is made from fruit.
- Frozen Kongs – Kongs are awesome rubber dog toys that are hollowed out and can be stuffed with treats or dog food. They are great for summertime because whatever you decide to stuff your dog’s Kong with can also be frozen. This will not only create a frozen cooling treat for your dog, but it will also make the treat last much longer. This is perfect for keeping your dog cool and occupied at the same time! You can freeze a combination of foods that your dog loves to create both sweet and savory treats.
- Just Ice –Dogs love to crunch on plain ice in the hot summer months. If you are concerned about your dog swallowing or choking on ice, why not freeze a large tub of water and then leave it out for your dog to lick down? You can even freeze your dog’s favorite treats or toys inside the container for added motivation to keep your dog engaged.
Can dogs eat soft serve?
You can give your dog plain vanilla frozen soft-serve as an occasional treat. Soft serve ice cream can give your dog an upset stomach due to the milk and sugar content.
Can dogs eat McDonalds ice cream?
Most ice cream, even the fake stuff from McDonald’s, contain significant amounts of milk fat and is unhealthy for your dog. A couple of licks won’t harm your dog but excessive amounts will give him an upset stomach.
Can my dog eat vanilla ice cream?
Vanilla ice cream might be the safest flavor to share with your dog. Some dogs are lactose intolerant and should never have ice cream. Most ice cream is loaded with sugar, which is unhealthy for your dog.
Although it can be tempting to share our human foods with our furry friends, it is always sensible to know what is safe to feed to them and what could make them sick.
The great thing is that for every unsafe human food, there are usually plenty of safe alternatives.
Hopefully, this article has not only informed you of the dangers and health risks of feeding ice cream to your dog but also provided you with a few ideas for safer alternatives too.