Dog licking an ice cream cone in a person's hand

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? No, And…

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Picture this: it’s a sweltering hot day, and right in front of your eyes is a delicious scoop of ice cream dripping sweet vanilla-chocolate goodness onto the crisp waffle cone in which it is nestled. Next to you is your lovable dog, who’s as enraptured with the ice cream as you are. You, being the great humanitarian you are, are tempted to give them a lick. But should you?

This is a question that humans have asked for as long as we’ve had both ice cream and dogs–which, well, has been a pretty long time. And years of research have suggested that no, in fact, you should not let your dog eat ice cream.

In this article, we’ll break down all the reasons why you shouldn’t give in to the temptation to give your pooch a bite of your Rocky Road.

Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream?

No, dogs should not eat dairy-based ice cream (they can eat some dairy free ice cream variations in moderation).

Although most humans can eat ice cream in moderation without any problems, the same cannot be said of dogs.

Because dogs’ digestive systems are radically different from those of humans, they can be harmed and even killed by many foods that humans eat regularly.

While it isn’t the end of the world if your dog gets just a bit of ice cream, the risks are high enough that you shouldn’t give it to them if you have the choice.

Are There Any Safety Concerns Feeding Ice Cream to My Dog?

There are three big reasons to avoid feeding ice cream to dogs: the flavors, the sugar, and the milk.

The simplest reason to not give your furry friend any ice cream is that many ice creams contain flavors and additives that are toxic to dogs. An obvious example is chocolate, which is potentially toxic to dogs because their systems cannot process its ingredients. Other ice creams contain artificial sweeteners that are harmful to the canine digestive tract and can cause diarrhea, stomachache, and other illnesses.

The high sugar content of ice cream is another problem. Even if a dog makes it out of an encounter with an ice cream cone, there is so much sugar in ice cream that it can cause canine obesity and an array of related health problems, like heart conditions.

Finally, the milk that is oh-so essential to ice cream does not agree with dogs. Most dogs, like most humans, are lactose intolerant, meaning that they don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase to process the concentrated lactose in dairy products. So, when dogs eat ice cream, they often suffer from diarrhea, indigestion, and other issues.

How Much Ice Cream Can I Feed My Dog?

With all the previous concerns in mind, the best amount of ice cream to feed your dog is none at all! However, if your dog has eaten a small amount of ice cream that doesn’t contain chocolate, they will probably be okay–just don’t give them any more.

Tips from Our Vets

The following is a list of tips on how to think about what human foods are (and may not be) safe for your dog from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ article on Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.

There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.

If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.

While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:

  • Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
  • Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
  • Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat

Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:

  • Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
  • When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
  • Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t

Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.

If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:

  • The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
  • If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
  • Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.

Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the very last thing a dog needs is ice cream in its diet. Make sure you think twice before giving your pup some of that chocolate cookie dough unless you want a trip to the vet.

If you’re looking for more information about which human foods are (and aren’t) safe for your dog to eat, check out our series of guides below:

Can Dogs Eat Asparagus? Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe? Can Dogs Eat Kiwi? Can Dogs Eat Pineapple? Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Can Dogs Eat Avocados? Can Dogs Eat Cauliflower? Can Dogs Eat Lettuce? Can Dogs Eat Pistachios? Can Dogs Eat Tuna?
Can Dogs Eat Beans? Can Dogs Eat Celery? Can Dogs Eat Mangoes? Can Dogs Eat Plums? Can Dogs Eat Turkey?
Can Dogs Eat Beets? Can Dogs Eat Cinnamon? Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows? Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Can Dogs Eat Walnuts?
Can Dogs Eat Bell Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Coconut? Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal? Can Dogs Eat Pork? Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?
Can Dogs Eat Blackberries? Can Dogs Eat Fish? Can Dogs Eat Olives? Can Dogs Eat Radishes? Can Dogs Eat Yogurt?
Can Dogs Eat Blackberries? Can Dogs Eat Green Beans? Can Dogs Eat Peaches? Can Dogs Eat Raspberries? Can Dogs Eat Zucchini?
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Can Dogs Eat Ham? Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken? Can Dogs Eat Hot Cheetos?
Can Dogs Eat Brussel Sprouts? Can Dogs Eat Honey? Can Dogs Eat Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Salmon?
Can Dogs Eat Cabbage? Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? Can Dogs Eat Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Seaweed?

Of course, you’re likely interested in the quality of your dog’s food and your pet’s health, in addition to having questions about what your dog can and can’t eat. We happen to have a ton of resources on these very topics!

One is our guide which will teach you how to add fiber to a dog’s diet, along with or our guide to choosing the high fiber dog food. If you’re looking into dog upset stomach we have a guide for that as well, and we can even help answer how long does it take a dog to digest food?. If you’re portioning your dog’s food you can also check out our guide to choosing the best automatic dog feeder.

We also have a series of health and nutritional information for your dog. Our dog weight calculator and our answer to how heavy should my dog be? can help you determine if your dog is the proper weight and size, and we even have a collection of breed-specific growth charts such as our goldendoodle growth chart, great dane growth chart, golden retriever growth chart, chihuahua growth chart, or our labrador growth chart.

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.