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Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

The answer to "Can dogs eat ice cream?" isn’t very straightforward. This summery treat may be a two-legged favorite but it could cause digestive upset or be toxic to your dog.

Sassafras Lowrey  |  Jul 16th 2018


To humans, there’s nothing more delicious on a hot summer day than an ice cream cone. But can dogs eat ice cream?

Can dogs eat ice cream meant for humans?

Dog looking longingly at ice cream.

Can dogs eat ice cream? Read this before you share your ice cream with your dog! Photography © MartinPrescott | E+ / Getty Images.

Because there are so many different kinds of ice cream, there isn’t a simple answer to the question, “Can dogs eat ice cream?” Generally, the main problem when it comes to answering, “Can dogs eat ice cream?” comes from the way some ice cream is prepared. Some commercially manufactured (and homemade) ice cream utilizes artificial sweeteners, which can be toxic to your dog.

Xylitol is a sweetener that is toxic to dogs and it’s found in many human foods, including some ice cream. In other ice cream, it’s the flavor itself or the add-ins that are dangerous to your dog. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and some nuts are toxic or bad for dogs, too.

Even if your favorite ice cream doesn’t use sweeteners that are toxic to dogs or contain any flavors or products that are toxic to dogs, you should be cautious when it comes to dairy products and dogs. In some dogs, dairy products like ice cream may cause diarrhea and other digestive upsets. Additionally, sugar isn’t great for dogs.

What to do if your dog eats your ice cream

If your dog gets into ice cream, find and read the ingredients list on the ice cream’s packaging to look for any sweeteners and ingredients that are toxic to dogs.

If your dog eats lots of the ice cream, or if there are ingredients in the ice cream that you think may be harmful, contact your veterinarian or a local emergency veterinary clinic for advice. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to get help. 

So, can dogs eat ice cream — at all?

Some restaurants have specific dog-friendly ice cream. Dairy Queen, for example, has the Pup Cup, which contains a small amount of its famous vanilla soft-serve ice cream topped with dog biscuits. Shake Shack’s dog menu includes the Poochi-ini, which features peanut butter sauce and its own specialty dog biscuits on vanilla custard.

Can dogs eat ice cream at home? There are dog-friendly ice cream treats out there! Try Dogster’s Ice Cream Style Treats for Dog (no affiliation with Dogster magazine). Or, Pooch Creamery’s Peanut Butter-flavored ice cream is a powdered mix that you add water to and freeze. And Purina’s Frosty Paws come in a convenient single-serving frozen treat cups for dogs. These dog-friendly ice cream treats are available in many grocery stores in the same aisle as human ice cream.

Can dogs eat ice cream if it’s homemade?

It’s also possible to make your own dog-safe ice cream or frozen treats at home. Making “ice cream” for your dog is fast, easy and cheap — and you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what’s in it.

To make frozen treats for dogs, you’ll need some silicone cupcake cups and ice cube trays. These trays come in a variety of shapes/sizes and they’re inexpensive at dollar and craft stores. Silicone cups can be frozen, are easy to clean, and make it simple to create single-serving portions for dogs of different sizes (my own dogs range from 10 pounds to 100 pounds). Just make sure to remove the treats from the silicone containers before giving them to your dogs. For an added treat, add cheese “sprinkles” to your dog’s “ice cream” before serving! 

How to make ice cream cream for dogs:

  1. Frozen pumpkin drops: Take plain, canned frozen pumpkin and put it into the ice cube trays. Freeze for a few hours (or overnight) and serve!
  2. Frozen peanut butter cubes: Take peanut butter (be sure the peanut butter you’re using doesn’t contain xylitol), mix it with mashed banana, and put it into silicone ice cube trays or cupcake cups. Freeze it and give it to your pup!
  3. Yogurt pupsicles: Freeze dollops of yogurt (make sure it’s plain, whole and organic). You can also mix the yogurt with pumpkin, banana, cheese or even bits of meat before freezing. If your dog doesn’t regularly eat dairy, use caution and start off slow when giving your dog dairy-based treats.

Plus, is ice cream bad for YOU? Here’s what to know about ice cream and your health >>

Thumbnail: Photography © SolStock | iStock / Getty Images.

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author whose novels have been honored by the Lambda Literary Foundation and the American Library Association. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor and assists with dog agility classes. She lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, a senior Chihuahua mix, a rescued Shepherd mix, a Newfoundland puppy, two bossy cats and a semi-feral kitten. Learn more at sassafraslowrey.com.

July is the CHILL ZONE on Dogster.com! Learn how to keep your dog cool, calm and collected this summer with articles on preventing summer mishaps, staving off stress and more. 

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