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My local drive-thru ice-cream shop offers “pup cones,” very small portions of soft serve vanilla ice cream in a tiny ice cream cone. When my Yorkie watches me with her sweet “please share” eyes on a hot day, I’m tempted. Can I feed my dog ice cream, frozen yogurt, or popsicles?
While I’m sure this ice cream shop has kind intentions, you probably made the right choice by opting out. I do have dog owners in my practice that feed their dogs dairy, but there are several reasons to avoid feeding your dog ice cream, frozen yogurt, and popsicles regularly, especially when you cannot read the ingredients.
Reasons to Avoid Feeding Dogs Ice Cream
Dairy products top the list of food intolerances for dogs. For some dogs, dairy consumption can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. For that reason, only small amounts should be offered at a time. You can wait to see if and how your dog reacts.
However, keep in mind that chocolate and macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, so only plain vanilla or fruit flavors should ever be considered. Weight management is key to a healthy dog. Lots of added sugars, such as in ice cream and other sweet treats, can cause weight gain and dental issues.
Another hidden potential hazard is xylitol. Many ice creams, frozen yogurts, and popsicles contain this highly toxic and potentially deadly ingredient. You should ask if there are any artificial sweeteners in the ice cream before offering it to your dog, especially if your dog is such a small breed.
Additionally, popsicle sticks can become lodged in a dog’s mouth and possibly cause severe splintering or intestinal dangers.
The good news is that you can still spoil your dog on a hot day with vet-approved frozen treats and dog-friendly “ice cream” options you can prepare and store in your freezer.
DIY Dog-Friendly Frozen Treats
While yogurt is a dairy product and it’s best to steer clear of dairy with dogs, fresh plain yogurt with good bacteria is often easier for dogs to tolerate. To avoid dairy altogether, substitute coconut milk (read the label to look for xylitol or other harmful ingredients).
Frozen green beans or fruits (such as a few blueberries or small chunks of banana, strawberries, or peaches) are a quick treat. If you’re purchasing packaged frozen items from the grocery store, be sure to read the labels to ensure there is no added seasoning.
Combine ripe banana, pumpkin, or sweet potato with plain yogurt or coconut milk together and freeze in a mold or ice cube tray. Or use a blender or food processor to puree watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew. Fill ice cube trays or silicone molds and freeze.
You can also use the pureed melon to make “ice cream” by stirring frozen yogurt or coconut milk into the pureed fruit. Freeze in a freezer-safe bowl.
Another option is to fill an ice cube tray with pureed bananas and add a dollop of freshly-ground peanut butter on top and freeze. The best way to make sure the peanut butter you use is xylitol-free is to use only freshly-ground peanut butter, often available at natural food stores.
Combine grilled chicken, yogurt (or chicken broth), and cooked carrot in a food processor and freeze. Or you can fill your dog’s favorite chew toy with one of the above recipes and freeze it for added chew time.