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Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? What Are Some Alternatives to Feeding Ice Cream in Dogs?

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Raymond Umpa

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Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

There’s nothing like cold, sweet ice cream in the middle of a sweltering hot summer day. And whether you are enjoying your soft serve at home or outside, chances are high that your canine companion is by your side pleading for a lick. But, can dogs eat ice cream?

While there isn’t a clear yes or no answer to this question, it’s still best to err on the side of caution and just keep this sugary treat away from your pooch. Ice cream is basically just a frozen serving of milk, sugar, and cream.

These ingredients are not toxic to dogs, but, they are still unhealthy for them and milk can also cause lactose intolerance to some canines.

Not only that but other ice cream flavors are mixed with ingredients that are unsafe for dogs, such as chocolate and macadamia nuts.

Aren’t you convinced, yet? Feel free to go on with this article and let us know how you would handle your dog’s penchant for ice cream.

Ice Cream Ingredients That Are Unsafe for Dogs

As mentioned earlier, plain vanilla ice cream can be a safe pick if you want to give your dog ice cream as a treat.

However, even ice creams that only contain the basic ingredients can still cause some adverse reactions to dogs, especially when consumed in huge amounts.

But, do we only have one flavor of ice cream? Of course not, and this is where things get a bit complicated and dangerous for dogs.

If you are a fan of green tea ice cream, macadamia nuts, and chocolate, then, you’d better switch to different ice cream flavors, or better yet, don’t eat these cold treats whenever your pup is around.

And for your reference, below are the ice cream ingredients that are harmful to dogs:

1. Chocolate

Chocolate toxicity is one of the most common toxicities treated at veterinary hospitals. And the major culprits for this are the two compounds present in chocolates that are toxic to canines – theobromine and caffeine.

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Dogs can’t digest theobromine, so the more your dog eats ice cream, the more this toxic substance will accumulate in his body. And eventually, the symptoms of chocolate toxicity will manifest.

Different types of chocolates contain different levels of these toxic ingredients. Generally, the darkest and the bitterest ones have the largest amount of these toxins.

So, ice cream that is filled with chocolate, whether as flavoring, swirl, chunks, and chips, should definitely be off-limits for all adult dogs and puppies.

Chocolate toxicity is a serious condition, and it can cause life-threatening side effects and even death. Below are the symptoms that you should watch out for:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate and cardiac arrhythmias
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Heart failure
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? What Are Some Alternatives to Feeding Ice Cream in Dogs? 1

2. Macadamia Nuts

Some ice cream flavors contain macadamia nuts, and though, there’s a slimmer chance that your dog may eat this from your food, it’s still better to be informed of its danger to your pup.

Macadamia nuts can cause several side effects in dogs, ranging from mild to severe symptoms of toxicity. Below are the unusual behaviors that you should watch out for when your dog consumed even a small amount of these nuts:

  • Vomiting
  • Body weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hind limb weakness

Because of their high-fat content, these nuts can also put your pet at risk for pancreatitis.

3. Caffeine

Foods that contain high levels of caffeine can cause similar symptoms with chocolate toxicity.

And while a small lick on your coffee-flavored ice cream won’t have enough caffeine to lead to toxicity, it’s completely a different story when your pup licks on your coffee ice cream that also contains chocolate-covered coffee beans.

As they say, it’s double the trouble. High levels of caffeine won’t just cause mild symptoms in dogs, but can also lead to seizures, coma, and death.

Another popular ice cream flavor that contains caffeine is matcha or green tea. Most people are not aware that green tea ice cream contains caffeine simply because of its name, and we can’t blame them for that.

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4. Xylitol

Dog owners who have been searching for toxic ingredients in their pup’s diet have definitely come across this ingredient.

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is added to sugar-free products that include ice cream, and it’s one of the most common ingredients that are toxic in dogs.

When a dog ingests food that contains xylitol, he may experience a sudden drop in his blood sugar level as a result of an insulin surge in his system that was caused by xylitol.

Consequently, he may experience vomiting, body weakness, and seizures. This toxic substance is a big “no” for dogs, as sit can also cause liver failure.

5. Grapes and Raisins

While grapes and raisins may be healthy for us humans, we cannot say the same for our dogs.

Even a small amount of these two human foods can cause serious side effects to them such as decreased appetite, body weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal tenderness, increased thirst and urine production, or decreased or no urine production.

When left untreated, toxicity from grapes and/or raisins can cause acute kidney failure, which can be fatal.

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? What Are Some Alternatives to Feeding Ice Cream in Dogs? 2

Canine Health Problems Associated With Ice Cream

Overall, ice cream isn’t healthy for dogs. So, while eating plain vanilla ice cream won’t send your pup to the vet, it’s still not advisable to give these high-sugar treats even as snacks.

Below are more reasons why you should not use ice cream even as a treat to your dog for good behavior or occasional reward:

Lactose Intolerance

As puppies, dogs still have enough of the enzyme lactase in their system, which is needed by their bodies to digest milk.

However, once they are weaned from their mother, their bodies start to produce less of this enzyme. As such, many adult dogs are lactose intolerant, or they can’t properly digest milk products.

Dogs’ inability to digest dairy products can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and bloating, or gas when they consume foods that contain milk.


It’s not a secret that ice cream has high sugar content, and feeding your pup with sugar-rich foods can put him at risk for obesity, diabetes, and other weight-related health issues. In addition, dairy products contain high amounts of fat, so they may also endanger your dog from developing pancreatitis.

Even sugar-free ice cream can be bad for dogs because as mentioned above these desserts contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol that is toxic to dogs.

Food Allergies

The rule of thumb when it comes to adding new food to your pup’s diet is always to start in moderation and gradually increase if your pup tolerates it.

This is also associated with the fact that dogs can suffer from several food allergies. Hence, to minimize the symptoms, it’s best to start with a small serving first.

Dairy and milk products are common allergens in dogs, so, you should be extra careful when giving your pooch ice cream for the first time. Symptoms that you should watch out for are vomiting, diarrhea, and red and itchy skin rashes.

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? What Are Some Alternatives to Feeding Ice Cream in Dogs? 3

Alternatives to Feeding Ice Cream in Dogs

If you really love to give ice cream to your pup during summer, it would be better to make him his cold treat at home. This way, you can have full control of what ingredients to add to his ice cream.

And if you are open to serving him other cold treats, you can try freezing a fat-free yogurt, instead, since it contains less lactose.

By doing this, your pup won’t have a hard time digesting it, thereby preventing stomach upsets, and other symptoms of indigestion.

You can also make a banana puree using a food processor and put it in a freezer for a while. To add more flavors, you can also add peanut butter or other dog-friendly ingredients such as apples and oats.

Is it OK for dogs to eat ice cream?

It's best to avoid giving your dog ice cream. While it's not toxic or seriously harmful, dogs actually have a hard time digesting dairy as, after they're weaned as puppies, they lose the enzyme needed to digest the lactose in milk.

Why does my dog love ice cream?

To understand why dogs go barking mad for ice cream, think of the reasons why you love it. It's creamy and it's sweet, and like a lot of the high-value foods humans and hounds love, it's high in fat. Dogs tend to go mutts over foods and snacks we also love, like cheese, for pretty much same reasons we do.

Can my dog eat vanilla ice cream?

Only give your dog ice cream that does not contain chocolate, xylitol, macadamia nuts, or coffee beans. When in doubt, choose vanilla—even better, low-fat vanilla. Consider an ice cream alternative for your dog, including gelato made specifically for dogs or a homemade frozen treat made with dog-safe ingredients.

Can Dogs Eat Soft Serve Vanilla Ice Cream?

Dogs can eat vanilla ice cream, but it's not recommended that you let them. Some dogs are lactose intolerant, so vanilla ice cream could trigger sickness. It's also very high in sugar which will lead to obesity and possible diabetes.

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