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Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? Vet Approved Health & Safety Guide

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on June 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

a bowl of salted caramel ice cream

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? Vet Approved Health & Safety Guide


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Ice cream is a yummy treat many people enjoy, especially during the hot summer months. For dog owners, it’s common to see their pooches begging for a taste, watching on with pleading, imploring eyes, hoping a scoop will suddenly head toward their mouths. As yummy as ice cream is, should you let your dog eat ice cream? Is it safe for them to eat?

All dogs would cover their ears if they could hear us say that ice cream is not an ideal treat for them. However, whether or not dogs can have ice cream is not a simple yes or no. Ice cream is not toxic to dogs unless it has harmful or toxic ingredients, such as xylitol or chocolate, but this doesn’t mean they should eat it.

Let’s dive further into the specifics of this question so you know all the complexities and possible consequences of giving your dog ice cream.

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Why Should Dogs Not Eat Ice Cream?

As mentioned, whether or not dogs can eat ice cream is not a simple yes or no, as a few factors come into play here. If your dog licks a little plain vanilla or strawberry ice cream off the floor, there usually is no cause for alarm unless the ice cream contains xylitol, which is a sugar substitute that is extremely toxic to dogs, even in tiny amounts.

If you plan to give your dog an occasional lick of ice cream, only buy ice cream that does not have this ingredient. Chocolate and caffeine are some of the other toxic ingredients found in ice cream that should be avoided.

a bowl of ice cream
Image Credit: NadiiaArt, Pixabay

Dangers of Feeding Ice Cream to Dogs

Ice cream in itself is not dangerous, per se, but it depends on the ingredients and how often you might let your pooch have a little taste of the sweet frozen treat. In order to fully understand the possible repercussions, let’s break it down for clarity.


It’s no secret that ice cream is filled with sugar, and sugar is bad for dogs because it can lead to obesity if consumed often and in large amounts. Letting your dog eat sugar can lead to unpleasant side effects, like diarrhea. A dog who often consumes sugar will likely become obese, which, in turn, can contribute to other health problems, such as diabetes.


Many dogs are lactose intolerant, and consuming dairy, which is definitely in ice cream, can cause your dog to have diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or gas. Interestingly, puppies can digest their mother’s milk, but once weaned, they may lose the enzyme responsible for breaking down their mother’s milk.

vanilla icecream in blue bowl
Image Credit: Natalia Lisovskaya, Shutterstock

Toxic Flavors

Chocolate is used to make chocolate ice cream, and this flavor should be avoided at all costs due to its toxicity to dogs. Caffeine is another ingredient that may be found in some ice cream, which is a definite no-no to feed dogs due to its toxicity to them. Raisins are also toxic, which may be in some ice cream flavors, such as rum-raisin. Basically, you need to ensure that every listed ingredient in your chosen flavor is safe for dogs before even considering offering them a lick.

Fat Content

Ice cream typically has high levels of fat, and if your dog eats too much fatty content, it can lead to pancreatitis, which is essentially inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for making enzymes to digest food and regulate blood sugar. Pancreatitis is common in dogs, and it is a serious medical condition that needs addressing by your vet. Signs of pancreatitis are

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain

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Alternatives to Ice Cream

It’s best to avoid ice cream for the most part due to its ingredients that are unhealthy for dogs, with some being downright toxic. Luckily, there are alternatives to ice cream that are healthier and safer so that your dog can enjoy an occasional sweet treat.

Nowadays, you can even buy dog-safe ice cream for your pooch that has safe ingredients. You can even freeze bananas and other safe fruits to provide your dog with a sweet treat they’ll surely love, especially during the summertime. Peanut butter is also an excellent item to freeze in trays for your dog as long as it’s xylitol-free.

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As you can see, ice cream isn’t necessarily dangerous to dogs as long as the ice cream contains no toxic ingredients. However, you should only allow your dog an occasional lick of ice cream as long as your pooch isn’t lactose intolerant or has diabetes. Before you do, ensure it does not contain xylitol, chocolate, raisins, or any other toxic ingredients. A safer alternative is to freeze your dog’s favorite fruits or buy ice cream made exclusively for canines.

Featured Image Credit: Bartosz Luczak, Shutterstock

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