Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? It is summer, you’re out in the garden or down the local park eating ice cream, and your dog is panting away in the heat – can you give your dog a little ice cream treat?
The answer is actually, ‘it depends’. As we shall see, some dogs are in fact lactose intolerant so avoiding dairy products all together is well advised.
At the same time, a little cooling ice cream on the tongue would not hurt your dog, and a dog that is not lactose intolerant can obviously eat a little more.
However, there is another caveat – the flavor has to be a safe one.
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream – Any Benefits?
Not really. Apart from the cooling freshness ice cream has minimum nutritional benefits for either dog or human. High in dairy fat and lactose, and sugars depending on the flavor, ice cream does not form part of a healthy dog food diet.
Safe Ice Cream for Dogs
With that being said, there are actually ice cream products made specifically for dogs. Opting for one of these means your dog can enjoy the ice cream goodness, without you needing to worry about lactose issues of hidden sweeteners. An ideal compromise for all involved.
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream – The Lactose
The main precaution is this issue of lactose intolerant dogs. The condition is actually quite common in our canine companions.
Lactose intolerance means that your dog lacks the enzyme lactase in his small intestine that breaks down lactose, the sugar which is found in milk and therefore your ice cream
A dog can be born with lactose intolerance, (some breeds are especially susceptible to it) or it can be developed as they age. The cause provokes divided opinion.
Due the lactose not being broken down properly, it ends up passing through your dog’s digestive system causing problems such as boated stomach, gas and discomfort.
So as you can see, if you feed your dog ice cream and he has this condition, within a few hours of eating, he may be in a little pain.
If you are unaware of your dog’s tolerance to dairy produce, there is only one real way of finding out. You feed them a little bit of milk, cheese, yogurt or the ice cream and you wait around to witness the results.
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream – Lactose Tolerant
If you have discovered that your dog can handle the lactose in ice cream, you can feed your pet a little of this tasty refreshing treat.
However, you should stick to vanilla flavor. Many ice cream flavors are toxic to dogs – most of us should be aware that chocolate and coffee are bad for dogs. By sticking to plain old vanilla, you are sidestepping any potential issues when it comes to problematic flavorings or nut toppings.
Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream – Other Precautions
Due to the excess fat and sugar levels in ice cream, you should definitely limit the amount that you give your dog. Leave it for rare refreshment on a hot day, anything more would be unhealthy.
Another issue to bare in mind is that of artificial sweeteners, many ice creams contain Xylitol, a harmful sugar substitute that is actually extremely dangerous for dogs. Ice-pops and ice cream containing this sweetener need to well avoided.