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 and Frozen Treats
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 and 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 and added sugars in high levels 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 since 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.
Favorite Dog-Friendly Frozen Treats to Make at Home:
• Frozen green beans, banana chunks, strawberries, blueberries, and peach chunks 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 Xylitol.
• Combine ripe banana, pumpkin or sweet potato and plain yogurt (see note below) or coconut milk together and freeze in a mold or ice cube tray.
• 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 (see note below) or coconut milk into the pureed fruit and freeze in a freezer-safe bowl.
• Fill an ice cube tray with pureed bananas and add a dollop of fresh 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 fresh 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.
• Fill your dog’s favorite chew toy with one of the above recipes and freeze for added chew time.
**Yogurt Note: 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). Learn more about gut health in dogs with advice from Dr. Klein:
Along with the above fun treats, enjoy summer months with your dog with plenty of activity and fresh, clean water for hydration.
Have more questions about what foods to feed your dog and what foods to avoid? Search our comprehensive dog-safe food list