In our perpetually warm weather, it’s always a good time for ice cream. Often, you may find yourself the target of puppy eyes as you enjoy the cool treat. However, before allowing your dog a lick of your dessert, it’s important to determine if the ice-cream is pet-safe.
Generally, human ice cream is not to be consumed by dogs. To understand why, we breakdown some common ingredients of ice-cream and their potential side effects.
The overly-high sugar content in your ice cream is harmful to dogs. For your dog’s source of energy, naturally occurring sugars such as those in carbohydrates are sufficient for the daily sugar intake.
Brush your dog’s teeth regularly to prevent cavities Source: @thatonedoodbentley
Feeding your dog with ice-cream may also result in sugar addiction. As the consumption of sugar causes the release of dopamine, which is linked to pleasure and reward in the brain, your pet may constantly be looking out for the treat. At the same time, overconsumption can contribute to obesity, diabetes and cavities then.
Even if the treat is sugar-free, it’s best to avoid feeding your pet with ice-cream. For instance, sugar substitutes such as artificial sweeteners (which contain xylitol) are toxic for your dog and can even be fatal.
Even the smallest amounts of xylitol can cause poisoning and a dip in blood sugar to below normal levels – or hypoglycemia, the symptoms of which develop rapidly. Typically, within the first half-hour of xylitol consumption, vomiting, coordination problems and/or seizures may occur, amongst other signs, eventually leading to liver failure.
As for dairy, the main cause for concern is your dog’s lactose intolerance. Lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose in dairy for digestion, is sparse in dogs. This is especially so in adult dogs who, after weaning, produce less lactase.
With a high intake of dairy in ice cream and without ample amounts of the necessary enzyme to digest lactose, your dog may suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea, which leads to a risk of dehydration.
On a side note, chocolate, which contains methylxanthines, is toxic to dogs as well – this makes chocolate ice cream a big no-no. Even if it saying no to those puppy eyes, you should refrain from sharing your ice cream with your dog for its own good.
Treat your furkid to some dog-friendly ice cream Source: @inthecove
Thankfully, dog-friendly ice creams are available on the market. Usually made with goat’s milk, which has lower lactose levels than cow’s milk, this wonderful alternative lets your dog indulge in some cold and creamy ice cream without the above side effects. What’s more – if you look hard enough, you will find lactose free and no sugar added ice cream perfect for your furkid!
Or treat your furkid to some home-made alternatives! Source: @bo_evi_tes_thelabradoodle
Alternatively, frozen fruits and yogurt can make perfect summer treats too! Simply freeze your dog’s usual fruits, including bananas and strawberries, but be careful not to overindulge your furkid with these sweet treats.
Plain yoghurt comes with lower levels of lactose without added sugars and natural/artificial sweeteners. Contrary to the harmful effects of human ice-creams, the active bacteria in yoghurts act as a probiotic to soothe your dog’s digestive system.
For an additional burst of taste, pop in your furkid’s favourite fruit and freeze together. However, as always, feed in small amounts to prevent the onset of diabetes or lactose intolerance.