Who hasn’t seen those adorable videos of kids (or adults) sharing their ice cream cone with a dog? The dog happily licks up the ice cream with no apparent problems! So, can dogs eat ice cream?
The Digestive System of Dogs
As with humans, dogs have four stages of digestion: mouth, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. The dog’s stomach and small intestine have the same anatomical features as ours, while the large intestine is a lot simpler. The only difference is that it doesn’t have the appendix (a part of the small intestine) because dogs don’t digest cellulose.
The stomach of dogs is lined with glands that secrete gastric juices. The food passes through the stomach and into the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum. There, digestive enzymes break down the proteins in food, so that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
After the duodenum, the food passes into the second part of the small intestine, the jejunum. This is where most of the absorption takes place.
The cells lining this section are not as large as those in other parts of the small intestine. Because of this, some nutrients and electrolytes can pass through them more easily. The cells here also absorb some water from digested food, which can be very important for dogs with certain health problems.
When a dog eats chocolate, ice cream or other high-fat foods, the large intestine absorbs more of the fat than it does in humans. This can lead to an increase in blood fats and liver damage.
Why Dogs Shouldn’t Eat Ice Cream
Can my dog eat ice cream? The answer to that question is probably no. While they love ice cream, dogs can get sick from eating ice cream. Here are the reasons dogs shouldn’t have ice cream:
1). Dogs don’t digest dairy products very well: ice cream can cause your fur baby to develop an upset stomach, nausea or even vomiting and diarrhea. It can also cause bloating, gas and constipation. Would you want that to happen to your canine companion?
The reason for these issues is that dogs don’t have enough lactose to digest dairy products such as milk or ice cream.
2). Ice cream has too much sugar for dogs: this is also a problem. If your fur baby has ice cream too often, he can gain weight, which could even lead to obesity and the development of diabetes.
3). Ice cream can contain toxic ingredients: another problem with ice cream is that some of the ingredients can be toxic to dogs. For instance, if you eat sugarless ice cream, chances are that it contains xylitol or another artificial sweetener. These are all bad for dogs.
In addition, chocolate ice cream is bad because chocolate has theobromine, which is toxic for dogs. Coffee and green tea ice cream are also dangerous due to the levels of caffeine in these products. And anything that contains raisins is off limits, as can lead to kidney problems.
4). Dogs can be allergic to dairy products: just as some people are allergic to dairy products, the same can be true of dogs.
Most dogs are lactose intolerant. Dogs have a lower lactase enzyme than humans, so they can’t digest lactose (milk sugar) very well. It is best to avoid giving dogs dairy products because of the lactose content.
The same goes to peanut butter, especially the one with xylitol in it. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has a laxative effect on dogs. Generally, the higher the amount of xylitol in a food, the more likely it is to cause a laxative effect. Some dogs are allergic to peanut butter.
Chocolate and Dairy Allergies
Although chocolate contains a high amount of fat, it doesn’t contain any lactose. However, dogs can have an allergic reaction to chocolate, which is why you should always read the ingredients list when purchasing chocolate for your dog. The theobromine and caffeine in chocolate can cause seizures, tremors, and cardiovascular problems. If you are still unsure, it is best to avoid giving your dog chocolate altogether.
Theobromine and caffeine are also found in coffee, which can be toxic to dogs. As a rule of thumb, coffee should not be given to dogs. It is best to avoid giving your dog any caffeinated products at all.
Dogs are notorious for getting into trouble when they eat things they shouldn’t. If your dog consumes ice cream, it can lead to digestive problems. Dogs who eat ice cream can develop pancreatitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the pancreas. In addition, your dog may develop constipation, or a change in the consistency of their stool.
So, ice cream just isn’t good for dogs!
Health Issues Related to Dog Food and Treats
Many of the issues that people have with their dogs are related to poor diet. It is a good idea to feed your dog a high quality dog food that is made from good ingredients.
Dog food that is made from good ingredients will contain meat, meat by-products, and at least two different sources of protein. The best dog food has a good balance of protein sources. Some of the best dog foods have a meat by-product content of 10% or more.
Here are some issues that can occur when feeding a poor quality dog food:
Skin and coat issues – Some dogs are sensitive to proteins in their diet. This sensitivity can cause itching, hair loss, and skin infections. You should feed your dog a high quality diet that has been formulated for your particular breed of dog.
Pancreatitis – Pancreatitis is a condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. It can be triggered by a variety of things, including high fat diets, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and other health issues. Pancreatitis can be a serious condition and can be fatal.
High Cholesterol – High cholesterol in dogs is linked to heart disease. Dogs that have high cholesterol may have signs of a heart problem including exercise intolerance, excessive thirst, and weight loss.
Liver Disease – Some types of liver disease are very common in dogs, especially large breeds of dogs. Liver disease can cause problems with appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms.
Weight Loss – Many dogs lose weight when they start eating a new diet. Some dog foods also have high levels of fat which can lead to weight gain and obesity in some breeds of dogs. Obesity is one of the most common health issues that occur in dogs. Obesity increases the risk for several other health issues including diabetes and joint problems.
Food Sensitivities – It is possible for your dog to develop food sensitivities if you feed them the wrong type of food or if you feed them too much or too little food at one time. Dogs with food sensitivities often develop skin rashes as well as digestive issues.
Safely Feed Your Dog Ice Cream
As a once in a while treat, very small servings of ice cream may be safe for your fur baby. This is true, as long as your dog doesn’t have an intolerance to dairy, or a dairy allergy. Just make sure the serving is small, is made with real sugar (no artificial sweeteners), and stick with vanilla or fruit flavors of ice cream. Vanilla ice cream is safe for dogs, as long as it is made with real sugar. And remember, dogs can’t digest artificial sweeteners very well.
Plain vanilla ice cream can be sugar-free and made with real milk, but it may be a bit pricey. It is best to avoid commercial brands of ice cream, as they are usually full of artificial ingredients. If you make your own homemade ice cream for dogs, it is best to use plain, unsweetened ice cream. You can make a variety of flavors with vanilla, and add different toppings like blueberries and nuts. However, avoid macadamia nuts, as they are toxic to dogs.
Safe Ice Cream Alternatives for Dogs
Another option is to serve your fur baby an ice cream alternative. You can try frozen yogurt (if your dog has no intolerance or allergy to dairy) or vegan ice cream (with no artificial sweeteners). These are lower in sugar and dairy (though there are some that are dairy-free).
Frozen banana is a great choice for dogs. It is very low in lactose and adult dogs can usually eat it without a problem. To make frozen banana treats, cut up a banana and put it in the freezer for several hours. When it is frozen, use a fork to break it into small pieces. The pieces can be placed in a plastic bag and stored in the freezer for later. You can use a food processor to process the frozen banana. Or, you can mash it up with a fork and freeze it in an ice cube tray.
Another great choice is yogurt. The only thing you need to watch out for is the casein in the yogurt. The casein can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. If your dog is sensitive to dairy, then use a yogurt that is made from goat’s milk. You can make a dog-friendly ice cream by mixing frozen yogurt with a frozen banana.
Most dogs are happy with these ice cream alternatives! And these are safer, but always stick to small servings. You and your canine companion will both be able to enjoy a nice cold treat on a hot summer day!
For your pooch, frozen treats are good options. But they can also be given as an occasional treat to prevent over-eating. The blood sugar level of your dog can rise, which may make them feel dizzy or sick. Weight gain can also occur. Non-dairy, less lactose and less sugar means less risk of these issues.
For your dog’s diet, dog treats are also a great alternative to ice cream. Many dog treats are low in fat, high in protein, and has a low sugar content, so they make a healthy snack. But of course, pet food is not the same as human food, so be sure to check with your veterinarian before giving your doggie any human food.