Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
By Karina Carbo-Johnson, MS
Updated: 5/20/20242-4 minutes
person holding dog, and eating an ice cream cone

There’s nothing better than tucking into a soft serve ice cream at the beach on a hot summer’s day. It’s the perfect treat for keeping cool and something that all the family can enjoy, but does that extend to your four-legged friend too? It’s highly likely your dog will be there at your feet, begging with their best puppy dog eyes – which raises the question, can dogs eat ice cream? 

We’ve put together this guide to tell you all you need to know about whether dogs can have ice cream. Keep reading to find out more.

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

It’s best to avoid giving your dog ice cream. While it’s not toxic or seriously harmful, dogs actually have a hard time digesting dairy as, after they’re weaned as puppies, they lose the enzyme needed to digest the lactose in milk. The odd lick is unlikely to prompt a visit to the vet, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid ice cream entirely.

Is Ice Cream Good for Dogs?

Dogs have difficulty digesting milk and as such, feeding them dairy products such as ice cream can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

Another factor to consider in the ‘can dogs have ice cream’ debate is that it’s often packed full of sugars and a single scoop will likely contain near to your dog’s daily recommend number of calories which can eventually lead to dental disease, diabetes or weight issues.

Not to mention, there’s a wealth of ice cream flavors which are very hazardous to dogs such as chocolate and rum and raisin which are both highly toxic to dogs. Additionally, some of the ingredients added to ice cream, such as peanut butter, can contain xylitol which is also toxic. Sugar-free ice cream can also contain xylitol.

Can Dogs Eat Vegan Ice Cream?

While vegan ice cream won’t contain dairy, it may be made with certain nut-based milks which can be harmful for dogs and as with normal ice cream, there may be sugars, additives or ingredients in the mix which are also hazardous.

Dog Friendly Ice Cream Alternatives

To keep your four-legged friend safe, we recommend putting down the scoop and opting for a dog-friendly ice cream alternative instead. Here are some ideas:

Frozen Bananas

One very popular option with pooch owners is to freeze bananas and then blend them. Do not feed whole frozen chunks as these can be a choking hazard.

Plain Ice Cubes

If your dog has issues with their weight, it’s best to just offer them plain ice cubes. This may sound boring, but a lot of dogs love them! These can be added to their water bowl on hot days.

Pupcups and Popsicles for Dogs

This might surprise you, but did you know that the majority of pet shops out there offer ice cream and popsicles designed especially for dogs? They even come in a variety of delicious flavors, so they’re sure to be a tasty treat and you can be rest assured that they contain nothing poisonous or toxic. 

For more expert tips on feeding your dog, explore our other dog feeding articles. 

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