Should dogs eat ice cream? – What are the alternatives?

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A lot of people ask: “Can dogs eat ice cream?”I'll only have one lick, honest!

I suspect many dog owners don’t even consider the question but simply give their dog a ‘treat’ when at the seaside or the park on a hot day. I’ll put my hand up because I’m guilty of this, too.

But should we give our dogs ice cream?

The vet says NO!

Ask any vet and they’ll say No. There are several reasons not to feed your dog ice cream.

The main one is that dogs don’t tolerate dairy very well. The dog’s digestive system is not geared up to digest milk after they’ve been weaned as puppies.

Also, some dogs are lactose intolerant and should never ever be given ice cream or any dairy product.

Ice cream is fattening

Ice cream is so yummy - and fattening!Secondly, ice cream contains sugar and it’s quite a fattening treat – no wonder we love it! – and this can contribute to health problems such as weight gain and obesity. We might think of sugar as a treat but dogs don’t need sugar in this form in their diet, they get enough from their normal food by breaking down carbohydrates.

If your dog is already overweight and not getting enough exercise, giving them ice cream is definitely not a good idea.

Needless to say if your dog is a little tubby, you should consult your vet about their diet and exercise regime.

Say NO to chocolate

Thirdly, some flavours may be toxic to dogs.

You probably know that you should not give your dog chocolate. Again, it’s a matter of their digestive system which is not set up to digest the theobromine in chocolate.

Can dogs eat sugar-free and low-sugar ice cream?

This is an absolute non-negotiable NO!

Many sugar-free foods contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol which is made from plants. It’s found in hundreds of products including sugar-free chewing gum and toothpaste.

Xylitol is also found in some types of peanut butter which some owners give to their dogs as a treat, so check the label carefully before feeding. Organic peanut butter is usually okay.

Xylitol is dangerous for dogs

Xylitol is not harmful to humans but, again, dogs can’t process it. It affects their blood sugar and it’s 100 times more harmful than chocolate. It can cause liver failure which can come on within half an hour.

Symptoms include weakness, tremors, possibly seizures, as well as sickness and diarrhea. However, giving a non-tolerant dog ice cream can also cause sickness and diarrhea so if this happens, do pay them close attention and take them to an emergency vet immediately. Recovery depends on how quickly they are treated.

If you simply must give your dog ice cream, use the normal variety, not sugar-free.

But lots of people give their dogs ice cream

This is true – as is apparent by the numerous videos on the internet – but just because lots of people do something, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Having said that, here’s a 40-second video. Do watch to the end.

Can I PLEASE give my dog ice cream?

The Kennel Club, perhaps surprisingly, does say small amounts of ice cream should not cause a problem PROVIDING your dog isn’t suffering from obesity, diabetes, doesn’t have an allergy and isn’t lactose intolerant.

The ‘safest’ ice cream is plain vanilla.

I admit to feeding all my dogs ice cream, although on a very irregular basis, and have been fortunate that none of them had any reaction. None were sick afterwards although I can’t bring to mind their subsequent bowel movements.

The begging question

This is how bad habits start- Murphy knows what he's doing!Part of the problem is if your dog begs or ‘greeds’ as some say. I know it’s incredibly hard to resist their pleading eyes and they may give you a paw, too. It’s not easy to train out of them.

After begging experiences with my other dogs, I was determined not to feed Murphy t the table. He was fine with this and lay quite contentedly out of the way

Until some friends came to dinner and, guess what? – one of them slipped him some food.

And that was it! From that moment on he would sit near the table hoping someone would drop a morsel. It took ages to get him out of the habit and although he would lie further away and not beg, you could see he was always looking in case someone dropped some food.

It only takes once to instil a bad habit.

Vegan ice cream

Is it vegan? Who cares?It’s nice to share a treat with your four-legged friend but there are many alternatives which your dog will find just as tasty and which are far more healthy.

Vegan ice cream is one possibility as it doesn’t contain dairy products, but check for xylitol. Don’t go for chocolate and avoid nuts. Some nuts are okay for dogs but some aren’t.

Some vegan ice cream is made from bananas which is absolutely fine (as long as it has no additives).

Frozen yoghurt

Frozen Yoghurt might be better but skip the toppingsThis is often touted as a safe alternative to ice cream for dogs, but you still must check the ingredients, particularly if buying at a frozen yoghurt stall as it may still contain xylitol and other harmful ingredients.

The best option is to buy a pot of natural, plain (not vanilla) yoghurt – organic is good – and freeze it yourself. Then you can share it with your dog.

You could also mix in a banana or two before freezing. Dogs love bananas and they’re very good for them. And for us, too.

But we’re getting into the DIY ice cream section which is coming right but. But first…

Ice cream for dogs

Yes, there is such a thing as dog ice cream. I shouldn’t be surprised.

And what a choice our canine friends have! Check these out:

Dog ice cream - Yum!Unipro ice cream for dogs and (shh) cats comes in two flavours – vanilla and banana, and kiwi and orange. You add a cup of water to the tub and put it in the freezer for three hours.

Puppy Scoops is another dog ice cream mix that you add hot water to then freeze. It comes in peanut butter, maple bacon, carob, and vanilla.

Officinalis have a vegan ice cream for dogs in coconut flavour, and it’s made in Italy.

There are also lolly-type ices. Pawsecco Freeze Pops come in little packets that you pop into the freezer. They are made from Elderflower, Linden Blossom and Ginseng.

There is also genuine frozen yoghurt. Frozzys Frozen Dog Yoghurt is available in four flavours – Blueberry, Cranberry, Original and Strawberry. These are actually shipped frozen in a specially insulated container and sent out on 24-hour delivery.

Make your own dog ice cream

You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to make ice cream for your dog!

Here’s a recipe that uses yoghurt, bananas and peanut butter.

Dog ice cream – a Frosty Paws copycat

If you prefer visual instructions, here’s a video: How to Make Dog Ice Cream Treats

So if you want to give your dog ice cream, there are lots of perfectly safe and healthier alternatives.

Happy eating!

If you have any questions about this article or any thoughts on the subject, please leave a Comment below and I’ll reply as soon as possible.

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Why my dog eats grass – The real reason revealed!

Can dogs eat bacon? – Or other pork food?

How to stop a dog from chewing his bed

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