Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

As a dog owner, it helps to know the best and healthy way to feed your dog.

Just as we humans, dogs too require a well-balanced diet and if not properly taken care of can suffer from malnourishment. 

So, healthy eating is important for them because of their growth and overall health.

Most of your dog’s nutrition needs will be gotten from balanced meals of plants and animals. 

Major Nutrients Your Dog Needs

A dog requires six essential classes of nutrients that include:

First is water, which is very important as it makes up about 65% of a dog’s body weight. Dogs consistently need a supply of fresh water because a 10-15% water decrease in their body weight can result in serious sickness and even death.

The second is protein. Almost all animals need protein because it’s the basic building block for cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies which are very crucial for a dog’s body growth, maintenance, reproduction, and repair.

Fats are also important being a major form of food energy providing your dog with more energy than carbohydrates and protein put together.

Let’s not forget carbohydrates. They provide energy and play a good role in intestinal health and reproduction combined with vitamins which play an important role in your dog’s body and are necessary for the proper functioning of your dog’s metabolism.

Last but not the least are minerals. This is so important because all minerals an animal needs are obtained only through their diets.

While you should feed your dog well, be careful also of overfeeding as this can cause serious weight issues affecting its health overall.

Earlier we talked about dogs being able to eat both plant and animal foods, however, some hold the notion that dogs are carnivores.

Are Dogs Carnivores?

Actually, it’s not that simple. Consider this. Carnivores are known for their short intestine because they eat meat. 

Herbivores have longer intestines as plant food is more difficult to break down and digest. 

Dogs fall in between as they have slightly longer intestines than carnivores.

They would pass for being omnivores. Not failing to mention that due to certain genetic traits, dogs are better adapted to eating grains and vegetation.

This doesn’t entirely mean that dogs don’t have some carnivorous behaviours. They do. 

It’s just that having grown and been domesticated by humans for thousands of years, most of those traits are suppressed. 

Now in the course of dog owners learning about proper and healthy dog nutrition, an important question commonly arises and that’s – “Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?”. 

In this article, we will provide a well-detailed answer to guide you.

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

It is not advisable to feed your dog ice cream because it causes some health issues for them. They include:

Lactose Intolerance

This issue in dogs is a condition that arises as they age due to a reduction in the production of lactase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. 

This reduction in lactase production means that dogs become less capable of effectively digesting lactose. To break it down further:

As dogs mature, particularly beyond the puppy stage, their bodies may naturally decrease the production of lactase. 

This decrease is a common feature in many mammals, including humans. Consequently, the ability to efficiently break down lactose diminishes, leading to lactose intolerance.

When lactose-intolerant dogs consume dairy products like ice cream, the undigested lactose moves into the colon, where it interacts with bacteria. 

This interaction produces gases and can draw water into the intestines, leading to digestive discomfort. 

The result is often manifested in symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and, in severe cases, vomiting.

It’s important to note that the degree of lactose intolerance can vary among individual dogs. 

Some may experience mild discomfort with small amounts of dairy, while others may have more severe reactions. 

Recognizing the signs of lactose intolerance in your specific dog is crucial for their well-being.

Because of the potential for digestive issues, it’s generally advisable to avoid feeding ice cream and other dairy products to dogs, especially as they grow older. 

Choosing alternative treats that are lactose-free ensures that dogs can enjoy their treats without the risk of gastrointestinal issues.

If you are not sure about your dog’s ability to tolerate dairy or if there are concerns about lactose intolerance symptoms, consulting with a veterinarian is essential. 

Veterinarians can provide guidance on a dog’s specific dietary needs and recommend suitable alternatives to dairy-based treats.

High Sugar Content

Ice cream contains a lot of sugar and it poses a substantial health risk for dogs, and its implications extend beyond mere sweetness.

Sugar is a concentrated source of calories, and an excessive intake of high-calorie foods like ice cream can contribute to a dog’s daily caloric intake. 

The significant caloric load from sugar can lead to an imbalance in energy consumption, potentially resulting in unhealthy weight gain.

This happens when the excess calories from sugar, when not utilized through physical activity, are stored in the form of fat. 

Dogs that regularly consume foods with high sugar content, such as ice cream, are at risk of developing obesity, and obesity in dogs is a serious concern as it is associated with a range of health issues, including cardiovascular problems, respiratory difficulties, and compromised joint health.

Obesity puts additional stress on a dog’s joints, particularly the hips and knees leading over time, to joint issues such as arthritis. 

Joint problems can severely affect a dog’s mobility, leading to pain and discomfort, and may in some cases require medical intervention.

The link between obesity and a shortened lifespan in dogs is well-established. Dogs that maintain a healthy weight are generally more resilient to various health conditions and are likely to live longer happier lives. 

Conversely, obesity can contribute to the development of serious health issues, ultimately reducing a dog’s overall lifespan.

This is why as a dog owner you must get rid of excessive sugar intake to help your dogs maintain a healthy weight. 

This involves not only avoiding sugary treats like ice cream but also being mindful of the overall sugar content in a dog’s diet. 

You can try regular exercise and portion control as they are important components of weight management in dogs.

Dental Health

The impact of ice cream on a dog’s dental health is a critical aspect to consider, and it goes beyond the immediate enjoyment of the treat.

The sugars present in ice cream as we discussed earlier serve as a catalyst for the multiplication of harmful bacteria in a dog’s mouth. 

These bacteria thrive on sugars, creating an environment conducive to their growth. As they feed on sugar residues left on the teeth, they produce acids that can lead to the formation of plaque.

What is Plaque? Plaque is a soft, sticky film that forms on the teeth. It is composed of bacteria, saliva, and remnants of food. 

The presence of sugars from ice cream accelerates the formation of plaque. Over time, if not adequately addressed through proper dental care, plaque can harden into tartar.

Tartar or dental calculus, is a hardened form of plaque. 

It forms when minerals in saliva interact with plaque, creating a tough substance that adheres to the teeth. 

Tartar is not only a gross sight but also provides a rough surface for more bacteria to attach and multiply.

This progression from plaque to tartar increases the risk of dental diseases in dogs. 

The accumulation of bacteria and tartar can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, and if left untreated can progress to periodontitis, a more severe condition involving the supporting structures of the teeth. 

Dental diseases can cause pain, discomfort, difficulty eating, and even tooth loss so maintaining good dental hygiene is crucial for a dog’s overall health. 

Regular brushing of a dog’s teeth, providing dental chews or toys, and incorporating dental-friendly treats into their diet are effective ways to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar.

If you want to reduce the impact of sugary treats like ice cream on your dog’s dental health, it’s important to be proactive in preventing the build-up of plaque and tartar. 

Choosing treats that are specifically designed to promote dental health or offering alternatives like dental chews can contribute to maintaining a dog’s oral hygiene.


Diabetes can emerge from feeding your dog too much ice cream. The dangers of ice cream for your dog are just too much. Avoid it at any cost.

It begins with your dog’s body developing insulin insensitivity leading to insulin resistance and prolonged insulin resistance can eventually progress to diabetes mellitus in dogs. 

Diabetes is characterized by the inability of the body to regulate blood sugar levels effectively and dogs with diabetes may experience symptoms such as increased thirst, excessive urination, weight loss, and lethargy.

Important to add also, is that ice cream contains specific ingredients particularly harmful to dogs like the following:

  • Chocolate is a common ice cream flavor that contains theobromine. Theobromine is highly toxic to canines and even when ingested in small amounts can cause increased heart rate, tremors, and in worse cases seizure and death.
  • Rum and Raisin flavours are also common ingredients that are found in ice cream and they pose a dual threat. They can cause kidney failure in dogs which is something I don’t think you want as a dog owner. Also, alcohol, even in small quantities, can have a negative impact on your dog’s nervous system leading to alcohol poisoning.
  • Xylitol: Some ice creams may contain ingredients like peanut butter, which can be appealing to dogs. However, certain peanut butter brands and sugar-free ice creams might include xylitol, a sugar substitute. Xylitol ingestion can lead to a rapid release of insulin, causing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs, which can be life-threatening.

You should also avoid sugar-free ice creams as well because they substitute sugar for xylitol as a sweetener. As you know by now, xylitol is significantly toxic to dogs as it can cause liver failure.

As seen from our argument – “Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?”, ice cream is not a good thing for your dog. In order not to leave you hanging, we will talk about some healthy alternatives to ice cream.

Alternatives to Ice Cream for Dogs

To keep your dog healthy while still giving it a treat to enjoy, take a look at the following recommendations:

Frozen Bananas

Frozen bananas are healthy for your dog and it’s simple to make. Just freeze the bananas and then blend them.

Plain Ice Cubes 

Yes, you heard me right. Plain Ice Cubes! I don’t know for what reason but most dogs enjoy licking them. I guess it passes as a treat you can give your dog to enjoy.

Pooch Creamery

This is another ice cream alternative you can try with your dog. Pooch Creamery contains only 5 ingredients and comes in a variety of flavours. It contains lactose-free milk and carob. Carob is naturally safe for dogs and it tastes like chocolate.

Ice Cream

Argghh! Relax, relax. I don’t just mean regular ice cream. I’m talking about ice creams specially made for dogs. They come in different flavours and you can be sure they are not toxic. You can find them in the majority of the pet shops around you.


Conclusively, we emphasise on the importance of a well-balanced diet for dogs.

You’ve also seen our discussion on the misconception of dogs being strictly carnivores and how we highlighted their adaptability to both plant and animal foods. 

We also provided a detailed answer on the question of whether dogs can eat ice cream. We advised against feeding dogs ice cream due to potential health issues such as lactose intolerance, high sugar content, poor dental health, and the risk of diabetes. 

Also highlighted were the specific harmful ingredients in ice cream, such as chocolate, rum and raisin, and xylitol. 

In addition, suggestions were made on healthy alternatives to ice cream for dogs, including frozen bananas, plain ice cubes, and specially made dog-friendly ice creams.

All these is so that you can be well informed concerning your dog’s health. Finally, this is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult a veterinary doctor for any final advice.

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