Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? Is Ice Cream Safe for Dogs?

Can your dog eat ice cream? In short: Yes, they most certainly can eat ice cream – but there’s more that you may want to know before you serve them a bowl of this sweet and milky treat.

First and foremost, you’ll need to answer some questions about the ice cream before you can determine whether you should let your dog eat it. What flavor is it? Are all of its ingredients safe for dogs? How much can my dog eat without having tummy problems?

Read on to learn everything you need to know about your dog’s relationship with ice cream, and you’ll be well prepared to share this special treat with your dog safely and in moderation.

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Ice Cream Nutrition and Fun Facts

Did you know that creamy, frozen desserts have been a fascination and object of desire for humans for millennia? It’s even rumored that the Roman Emperor Nero had ice collected from mountaintops, brought to his dining halls, and mixed with honey and wine as a decadent dessert.

hand feeding dog
Photo by Mikkel Bendix from Pexels

Even as far back as 500 B.C., it was well known that chilled and frozen drinks and desserts could cause serious digestive difficulties. It seems that humans and dogs alike are cursed to forever desire these sweet, cold, and creamy treats, no matter the potential for gastrointestinal distress.

In one half-cup serving of an average ice cream, you may find as many as 200 calories – coming almost entirely from fats and simple sugars, with negligible amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, or anything that might be of benefit to your health.

Does Ice Cream Have Any Health Benefits for Dogs?

Let’s be honest — does ice cream have health benefits for anyone? While it’s certainly a delicious treat that is loved by humans and dogs alike, there’s plenty to discourage both you and your pup from eating a vanilla waffle cone every day.

In short, no, ice cream does not have any health benefits for dogs. At least, not any physical health benefits – though some might argue that the happiness dogs feel when they get such a delicious treat is its own kind of medicine.

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Can Ice Cream Be Bad for Dogs?

It’s quite telling that the American Kennel Club, the premier governing body for purebred dogs in the United States, recommends that dogs should not eat ice cream. Their reasoning is three-fold:

  1. Dogs’ bodies aren’t made to digest milk. After they’re weaned off of their mother’s milk as puppies, dogs can’t digest milk well and may even become lactose intolerant. This means that feeding your dog ice cream might lead to bloating, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  2. It’s far too sweet for dogs. Dogs’ diets don’t require any refined sugar, and ice cream is loaded with it. This can lead to weight gain, obesity, and a whole slew of health problems that come with those conditions.
  3. It may have ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Chocolate and xylitol are the main culprits here, as both are extremely dangerous for dogs to eat.

ice cream in bowl

How Much Ice Cream Can I Feed My Dog?

Is there an appropriate amount of ice cream that your dog can have? Not really. Some dogs may tolerate a portion of ice cream better than others, but it’s a highly individual concern. Even two dogs of the same breed might have vastly different reactions to eating ice cream.

If your dog has eaten ice cream without your permission, monitor them closely for signs of serious gastrointestinal distress. As long as the ice cream isn’t made with any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, it’s unlikely that they’ll experience any serious side effects – though they may end up with terrible farts, or a bad case of diarrhea.

Dog-Friendly Ice Cream Alternatives

If you’re dead set on sharing your summertime treats with your canine friends, try blending frozen bananas or other frozen fruits instead. It’s a lower-sugar option that’s completely dog-friendly and will even have some health benefits thanks to the vitamins and minerals in the fruits.

Some grocery stores or pet supply shops will also keep a selection of dog-friendly ice creams on hand. Check your local retailer for premade options, or consider Puppy Scoops for an at-home solution.

dog eating ice cream
Image: Pxfuel

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Final Thoughts on Feeding Ice Cream to Your Dog

No doubt about it: Dogs can eat ice cream, but they really shouldn’t. It won’t cause your dog any serious harm to have a small portion of an ice cream that’s made without ingredients that are toxic to dogs, but why risk giving your best friend an upset stomach? Look for dog-safe alternatives instead, and you’ll be able to share your summertime treats with your pup without causing them any discomfort.