So can dogs eat ice cream? Let’s face it, everyone loves ice cream. Even your four-legged bestie probably loves a lick of delicious creamy vanilla goodness on a hot day. Although it is tempting to share your favorite treat with your pet, it might not be the best idea.
Here is everything you need to know about why dogs shouldn’t eat ice cream.
Is Vanilla Ice Cream Bad for Dogs?
Here are four reasons why dogs shouldn’t eat ice cream:
#1. Lactose Intolerance
After puppies are weaned, their bodies produce less lactase, which means they are less efficient at breaking down milk proteins. Just as with humans, many adult dogs are lactose intolerant to different degrees. This prevents them from being able to digest milk products efficiently.
Feeding lactose intolerant dogs dairy products can result in mild to severe gastrointestinal discomfort including loose stools, itchy skin rashes, pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and gas. Milk products that contain a high level of fat, such as cream and ice cream, can also cause pancreatitis.
#2. Obesity and Diabetes
You may not have considered that your pup can suffer from the same conditions as humans including obesity-related health issues and diabetes. Ice cream has both a high-sugar and high-fat content which makes it an unhealthy choice.
Problems that could arise from too many high-fat, high-sugar foods include osteoarthritis, skin allergies, blood pressure irregularities, and heart diseases. Even sugar-free ice cream can be dangerous for your dog. In the next point, we find out why.
#3. Xylitol Poisoning
Xylitol is a sugar replacement often used in sugar-free desserts and candy. Xylitol is however toxic to dogs so opting for a sugar-free ice cream to share with your pooch could actually cause more harm than good. Always check the ingredients before giving your pup sugar-free items.
#4. Toxic Flavors
Although dogs can occasionally eat some fruit-flavored sorbets such as mango, most ice cream flavors are not safe for them to eat. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which can be toxic to dogs because they cannot efficiently process these components.
Similarly, the caffeine in coffee ice cream is also damaging. Toppings such as macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and raisins can also be harmful.
What If Your Dog Ate Ice Cream Accidentally?
If you spilled your frozen treat on the floor and your pup licked it all up before you had a chance to clean it, don’t panic. If it was only a small amount of vanilla ice cream your canine should be fine.
On the other hand, if any toxic flavors containing macadamia, xylitol, or even chocolate were consumed, contact your vet. In extreme cases take your dog to the nearest clinic straight away to avoid toxin absorption.
Vanilla Ice Cream Alternatives for Dogs
Even though vanilla flavor is one of the safest ice cream flavors for dogs, there are much better alternatives to give your pup and preserve his health. Choosing frozen treats that are natural and do not contain dairy, sugar, sugar substitutes or high amounts of fat will be much more beneficial.
Good-quality dog food will already contain calcium and other necessary nutrients to promote bone strength for your dog. Therefore, adding calcium to your dog’s diet with milk or ice cream is not necessary, nor recommended.
To make dog-friendly frozen treats, which you can enjoy too, blend 2 ripe bananas until smooth and freeze. This creamy frozen dessert contains a variety of beneficial nutrients.
To make small portions you can freeze them in ice cube trays or popsicle molds. When ready to eat, give them a few minutes to soften slightly before letting your furry friend enjoy them.
A teaspoon of peanut butter can be added to vary the flavors. Natural peanut butter that does not contain extra sugar or artificial sweetener is best. Always check the label for toxic ingredients first.
Dogs usually love peanut butter and it is safe for them to eat. Keep these banana icicles as a treat for your dog since they still contain a fair amount of sugar, albeit natural.
Vanilla extract or imitation vanilla generally contains a high level of alcohol that is toxic to dogs. They can’t break down alcohol, leading to a risk of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol-free vanilla that contains vegetable glycerin instead will be safe for your dog
Since yogurt is fermented and contains less lactose it is easier for dogs to digest and therefore a much better option than ice cream. Commercial frozen yogurt should however be avoided since it contains a lot more sugar. Although yogurt is easier for dogs to digest than other types of dairy products, not all dogs can tolerate it. First test out a small amount, and always keep the portions tiny as an occasional treat only.
If your dog has a mildly upset stomach you may be able to treat it yourself. Feed your dog plain boiled chicken with plain cooked rice in a few small portions a day. Stick to this diet for a few days before getting back to his normal feeding routine by gradually adding small amounts of his usual food into the mix. You could also fast your dog for a day to let his stomach empty from the toxins of the vanilla ice cream. Very importantly, your dog should have access to plenty of fresh, clean water at all times. If you see any serious symptoms including dehydration or lethargy, pain, a hard swollen stomach, blood in vomit or feces, contact a vet immediately.
Although an accidental lick of spilled vanilla ice cream shouldn’t harm your dog, there are many reasons not to feed your dog ice cream, and some flavors should not be ingested, even accidentally, at all.
If you would love your furry bestie to share in your summer snacks, make him a batch of frozen blended banana treats and add some peanut butter to the mix for a more gourmet touch.
It is important, no matter what you feed your canine, to always check the ingredients and preferably only feed them food and snacks that are specifically designed for dogs.
*image by inside-studio/depositphotos