You might have heard about secret menus at popular chain restaurants and coffee shops, like Starbucks. It sounds provocative, but it's really not. What "secret menu" means is there are items not formally written down or printed that are available if you know what to ask for.
A favorite secret menu item among dog enthusiasts is the pup cup, otherwise known as Starbucks' puppuccino. Because pup cups are not on the formal Starbucks menu, you have to ask for it in person.
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What is a Starbucks puppuccino?
A puppuccino is not caffeine for your dog. Caffeine is on the list of foods to keep your dog away from because both dogs and cats are more sensitive to caffeine than humans. An accidental lick from your coffee or tea isn't a crisis, but ingestion of caffeine pills, for instance, can be fatal. So, a pup cup is definitely not espresso for dogs.
Starbucks puppuccino is not really coffee at all, but just an espresso cup filled with whipped cream. Many dogs love it as an occasional treat when you are getting your coffee fix at the drive-through or on the dog-friendly Starbucks patio if there is one. Pup cups are free at most Starbucks locations but not all. Sometimes, they cost the same as extra whipped cream. The charge, if any, varies by store.
How to order pup cups at Starbucks
Because a puppuccino is not printed on the regular Starbucks menu, you have to know to ask for it. You can buy a pup cup at the Starbucks' counter or at the drive-through. Unfortunately, because it's not a regular menu item, you cannot order a pup cup online or by using the Starbucks app.
However, that might change if the puppuccino becomes a regular menu item. Starbucks applied in 2021 to trademark the term "puppuccino," indicating that the company might have plans for the product. Starbucks is not the only place to buy whipped cream in a cup for your dog. Dunkin' offers the same service, and other competing companies, such as Dairy Queen and Shake Shack, also have dog treats for four-footed customers.
Are puppuccinos healthy?
Puppuccinos are simply sweetened whipped cream in a cup. Starbucks whipped cream is a dairy product and not an oil-based product like some whipped toppings. Most dogs can occasionally tolerate small amounts of dairy, while others might experience stomach upset, diarrhea, or gas. Consult your vet. Avoid giving your dog dairy, including a puppuccino, if he has a history of stomach issues.
Note that because puppuccinos are not on the official menu, there is no standardized recipe for them. Some Starbucks stores add a pump of vanilla syrup, which looks great in a photo but is essentially sugar. If added calories is a concern for your dog, ask for your pup cup to be syrup-free.
Dairy product substitutes for dogs
Many dogs love whipped cream as a special treat, so most dogs lap up a puppuccino enthusiastically. In this case, the biggest health concern might be preventing a dairy-loving dog from eating the paper or plastic cup. Puppies should not eat dairy before they are 12 weeks old. Fat content in whipped cream is a concern at any age because an excessively fatty diet can cause pancreatitis in dogs.
If you are worried about giving your dog lactose products or if she's particularly sensitive, consider making your own puppuccino at home using canned coconut milk, which is dairy-free. Refrigerate the coconut milk for 24 hours and then whip it with a handheld blender. Pumpkin puree and yogurt are also dog-safe dairy substitutes.