While vanilla ice cream is technically made from ingredients that are non-toxic, you’re better off resisting those puppy-dog eyes when you’re digging into a bowl. Many dogs are lactose intolerant and that, combined with ice cream’s high sugar content, can lead to an upset stomach or worse.
Can My Dog Eat Vanilla Ice Cream?
Maybe. Ice cream isn’t a dog-friendly food, but a bite or two on a special occassion isn’t likely to harm your dog if they are not lactose intolerant. Dogs who are lactose intolerant, on the other hand, should never have ice cream.
Vanilla ice cream is one of the safest flavors to share but because it is packed with sugar, even those that can digest dairy should only get it once in a blue moon. And unfortunately, offering your dog a low-sugar variety is no better. Most contain artificial sweeteners, some of which, like xylitol, are toxic to dogs.
Is Vanilla Ice Cream Good For Dogs?
While it’s true that there is no harm in giving dogs who are not lactose-intolerant a bite or two of ice cream on special occassions, vanilla ice cream isn’t exactly good for dogs. In fact, the sugar in ice cream can not only make your dog sick, it can be downright life-threatening.
Why Can’t Dogs Have Sugar?
Too much sugar can be tough on your dog. In the short term, eating high quantities of sugar can upset the micro-organisms in the stomach and lead to vomiting or bloody diarrhea. But the bigger problem with dogs who consume sugar regularly is its negative long term effects..
Just like in humans, a dog who eats too much sugar over time can gain weight or become obese. An overweight dog is more likely to be more lethargic and experience joint pain, trouble breathing and heart disease. Cavities and diabetes can also result from feeding your dog too much sugar. If left untreated, both can severely impact their overall health. Diabetes, in particular, can lead to cataracts, urinary tract infections, seizures and life-threatening conditions like kidney failure and ketoacidosis.
Can Lactose Intolerant Dogs Have Vanilla Ice Cream?
Dogs who are lactose intolerant should never eat vanilla ice cream, nor any other dairy products. If you’re unsure if your dog is lactose intolerant, try feeding them a spoonful of a healthful option like probiotic-packed plain yogurt. If they don’t show symptoms of gastrointestinal distress in the next 12 to 24 hours, you can offer them a slightly larger portion and monitor their response. If they can handle a little plain yogurt without excessive gas, bloating, vomiting or diarrhea, they’re likely to be able to tolerate a spoonful or two of vanilla ice cream on rare special ocassions.
Can My Dog Eat Other Flavors of Ice Cream?
Dogs can eat very small amounts of a few different flavors of ice cream every once in awhile. But if you are considering giving your dog the last lick of your cone, just make sure that what you’re enjoying is non-toxic for dogs.
While many fruit and peanut-butter varieties are safe, you should never feed your dog ice cream containing chocolate, cocoa powder or nutmeg (pumpkin spice fans, you’ve been warned!). These ingredients are dangerous to dogs and may lead not just to severe vomiting and diarrhea but, in the most extreme cases, to death.
Non-toxic ice cream is only safe if it is not low-calorie or low-fat. Low-calorie and low-fat ice creams are likely to contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol which are never safe for dogs to eat, even if the flavor, itself, is one they can enjoy.
Why Is Xylitol Toxic To Dogs?
Xylitol is a sweet tasting, natural alcohol that’s derived from plant material. While it’s perfectly safe for humans to eat, even small amounts can cause your dog to become extremely sick or die.
The difference is that when xylitol is eaten by a dog, it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes the pancreas to quickly release insulin and blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels within as little as ten minutes. In higher doses, xylitol can cause liver failure.
If you suspect your dog has ingested xylitol (it’s also found in toothpaste, peanut butter and gum), contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. The latter can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-213-6680.
Dog-Friendly Ice Cream
Just because your dog shouldn’t have vanilla ice cream doesn’t mean they have to go through life without cool, creamy, lickable treats. Several dog-friendly ice cream alternatives are now available in stores and online including:
If you’d rather churn your own ice cream alternative at home, we’ve got plenty of delicious dog-friendly ice cream recipes to try. Check out one of our favorites, made with peanut butter, banana and yogurt, below.Print
Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream for Dogs
Your dog will go bananas for this Frosty Paws alternative!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cups 1x
- Category: Special occasion
- 1 banana
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp plain yogurt (use non-fat or non-dairy alternative, like coconut milk if you prefer)
- Blender or food processor
- Dice up a ripe banana and freeze for at least 4 hours.
- In a food processor, place the frozen banana, peanut butter, and yogurt in the bowl and blitz until smooth.
- Serve with a sprinkle of cookies as pictured, a dollop of fruit (can you say PB&J?), or just as it is.
Your dog will thank you.
For More Information
We offer a collection of articles on foods that are healthy or dangerous for dogs to eat, covering everything from grains, fruits, and vegetables. You might also be interested in reading “Can My Dog Eat Chocolate Ice Cream?”
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.