There certainly isn’t a shortage of sweet treats for us all to enjoy in today’s world, and the same is true of our pets.
Indeed, despite having countless treats especially made to give them the best in flavor and feel rewarded, dogs just can’t help but try and get a look in when we are enjoying some goodies for ourselves.
Is ice cream good for dogs?
Unfortunately, thanks to the high sugar content and overall processed nature of ice cream, we and our canine friends have it in common when we say that ice cream has little nutritional value.
It’s a treat for a dog as much as it would be for their human masters, yet with the added complications of being far higher in the sorts of things their bodies just don’t need, than even we have to contend with.
The only benefit you can expect to find in giving your dog ice cream is that it cools them down.
On a hot day, if you happen to drop a glob of ice cream off your cone, or even want to scoop the last of your gelato into your panting pooch’s mouth, you’re not going to be putting your pet into any immediate danger.
As dogs grow, their tolerance for dairy products becomes far smaller than that of human beings.
As puppies, milk and related products are happily eaten and digested by our furry friends, but as they grow and mature, their ability to digest these kinds of food and drink drastically decreases.
As you might imagine, that means that ice cream can cause some nasty tummy upsets in your dog, not to mention a little bit of nasty gas that you and your family will have to live with for an evening!
Keep in mind the sugar content of ice cream as well – as you might imagine, it’s pretty high.
Dogs have even less tolerance of sugar in their means of digestion than human beings do, and that means that a little goes a long way.
In other words, dogs who eat too much sugar not only have to watch out for tooth decay but also weight gain and the related complications that come with it.
For that reason, ice cream ought to be given to your dog very very sparingly.
Dangers of ice cream for dogs
Although many of the health risks of dogs eating ice cream are those that will manifest in the longer term, there are some more immediate concerns that you certainly ought to keep in mind if your pooch is gulping down some of this tasty stuff.
For example, there’s an artificial sweetener that is entirely toxic to dogs, and it, unfortunately, crops up in more flavors and brands of ice cream than is ideal.
That sweetener is xylitol, and it can affect your dog’s health surprisingly fast. If you suspect it’s in your dog’s ice cream portion, however he or she came to eat it, contact your vet immediately to ensure your dog is healthy.
More than this, you are of course likely already aware that chocolate ice cream for dogs is a very toxic thing indeed.
Dogs cannot process components in chocolate, which is why it’s so dangerous for them to eat it – and unfortunately, mixing chocolate with ice cream or any other different kind of food does little to diminish this danger.
Again, if your dog has been eating a lot of chocolate ice cream, make sure to communicate that to your vet as soon as possible.
There are less drastic health risks that come from dogs eating ice cream that you are well-advised to keep in mind.
The sugar content is high enough that it’ll greatly heighten your dog’s risk of weight gain in the future, and with that, the risk of obesity and diabetes drastically rises.
Dogs who are already diabetic, obese or allergic to lactose or dairy must not eat ice cream at all.
The dairy content of ice cream is bad for your dog’s digestion, and it brings all kinds of complications even within hours of eating.
Those include indigestion, constipation, and some nasty tummy upsets, so watch out for a bloated and grumpy pooch if they eat too much ice cream.
In terms of sweet treats for a hot day, many dog owners instead opt for yogurt – especially since it’s easier to find that free from added sugars, flavorings, and other chemicals.
How much ice cream can a dog eat daily?
Even in the most severe of heatwaves, there is no good reason why a considerate dog owner would need to be giving their pet ice cream every day.
If you do want to give your dog some ice cream though, consider no more than a teaspoon’s worth for a small dog or a puppy, and an older dog or a larger dog ought to have no more than a tablespoon of ice cream.
This should be a very rare treat though, and never given at all to unwell dogs, those with diabetes or those who suffer with their weight.
If your dog is especially allergic to lactose or otherwise even more averse to dairy than most dogs already are, don’t give them ice cream under any circumstances.
If you give your dog ice cream every day, you’ll find that their digestive system becomes all too upset all too often.
There’ll be a lot of gassiness and your dog will be asking to go outside to take care of their toilet business far more often than usual.
However kind your intentions, ice cream unfortunately just isn’t a good way to treat your dog frequently.
The amount of added sugars, flavors, and artificial additives that go into making ice cream – even fruit-flavored ice cream – make it far from an ideal way to treat your pet or reward his or her good behavior.
What to do if your dog eats ice cream
Although we as loving dog owners always do our best not only to identify what dogs can and can’t eat but also make sure they get the very best in a healthy, balanced and tasty diet, our pets themselves often have other ideas.
In fact, without our loving intervention, our dogs would quite happily get involved in any number of human foods that smell and taste great but can do them lasting harm.
Ice cream is among those, so if you have caught the dog eating ice cream, or one of the children has handed over far too much of it to a greedy, cheeky pooch, you could well be understandably worried about their well being.
You’re right to be concerned, but you also don’t need to panic and call the vet – with two exceptions.
The first of these is if your dog has eaten a large amount of chocolate ice cream, even if that flavor is mixed in with something else.
Dogs who eat chocolate can get very sick very fast, and they must be brought to the attention of a vet or qualified professional who can administer the right treatment.
The second of these is the artificial sweetener most toxic to dogs – xylitol.
If you have the packaging for the ice cream to hand, check the ingredients list thoroughly for any sign of this in what your dog has eaten.
If you suspect your dog has eaten ice cream with xylitol in it – or you cannot tell, but notice that he or she becomes quite poorly very quickly – immediately seek the help of your vet.
All that aside though, if your dog has helped him or herself to an entire tub of ice cream, your first course of action should be in informing your pet that this is bad behavior that shouldn’t be repeated.
From there, identify how your dog got access to this treat without your permission, and make sure it can’t happen again.
Unfortunately, from there, you and your dog are likely going to have to brace yourselves for the stomach upset your pup is likely to suffer.
Even what seems to us to be quite a small amount of ice cream can be far and away beyond what a dog should reasonably eat, so look out for him or her enduring cramps, a lack of energy and some constipation or throwing up.
As far as sweet treats for dogs go, ice cream can seem harmless but can have anything from long term health side effects to immediate dangers if handed over to a dog irresponsibly.
Unless it has xylitol or chocolate in it though, there’s no risk of toxic effects in your pet – but certainly, some unkind tummy aches could ensue from the sugar, milk, and flavorings ice cream has.
Serve that soft scoop only sparingly to your dog though, and all shall be fine.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.