Health & Wellness
Picture this: You’re hanging at the dog park and spot an ice cream truck out of the corner of your eye. Of course, nothing beats cooling off with an ice-cold soft swirl during the summer months (it's also a great, yet chilly, winter snack, if you’re so bold), but can you share this sweet snack with your pup?
Like some ice cream flavors, the answer is mixed. While certain ice cream flavors are OK for your pup to taste (as long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant), others should be off-limits, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, explains.
Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s safety when serving ice cream.
“Ice cream is high in fat and sugar and isn’t considered beneficial to dogs’ health,” Dr. McCullough says. So, while it’s OK for pups to have a lick of safe flavors every now and then, it shouldn’t be an everyday snack. Even dog-friendly ice creams, shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake.
Since ice cream is made out of dairy and cream, it’s likely that your pup won’t be able to digest this treat very well. Most dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t have the enzyme that breaks lactose down into smaller and easily-digestible parts, Dr. McCullough explains.
Ask your veterinarian if it’s OK for your pup to indulge in ice cream, but if you know they’re lactose intolerant, it’s best to avoid giving your dog a lick. Dogs that are lactose intolerant will often experience vomiting, diarrhea and gas after eating dairy, she adds.
If your dog is lactose intolerant, Dr. McCullough has some dog-friendly dairy alternatives they can try. She suggests talking to your veterinarian about serving your pup fruit popsicles instead. However, keep the serving size small, as fruit popsicles are usually full of sugar, which is unhealthy for dogs. Make sure the ice cream or fruit popsicle doesn’t have xylitol in it, too, which is a sugar substitute that’s toxic to dogs.
“Vegan ice cream may be an option for dogs with lactose intolerance; however, ice creams made from nut milks can be higher in fat, making them less healthy than traditional ice cream,” she adds.
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Generally, frozen yogurt is a safe option for dogs to eat, Dr. McCullough shares. Although, it’s not the healthiest snack option, as it usually has a high sugar content. Plain, nonfat yogurt is a generally safe and healthier alternative to other yogurts and ice cream, she says.
As long as they don’t contain xylitol, most ice cream flavors are OK for dogs to eat. However, some are entirely off-limits for dogs.
“Keep dogs away from ice cream flavors like rum raisin or any other flavor with raisins, as they are toxic to dogs. Any flavor containing coffee, macadamia nuts and chocolate aren’t safe, either,” Dr. McCullough warns.
Ice cream cones aren’t considered a healthy treat for pups to eat because of their high sugar content, Dr. McCullough says. If your dog manages to sneak one out of the box, they’ll likely be OK, but you should keep them away from dogs and ensure the cones don’t contain xylitol.
We’re confident that ice cream isn’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series “Can dogs eat … ?” to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what’s fair game.
The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.
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