There's one thing that all dog owners can agree on: puppies love treats! But what treats are safe for young dogs and which ones could be harmful? Is it ok to feed ice cream to a puppy? That depends on many factors, such as the flavor of ice cream, the puppy's age and whether the puppy has any food allergies.
But one thing to think about is that there are so many other good, healthy treats that's dogs can enjoy! Yes, your dog may show pleasure from eating the ice cream, but it also comes with the risk of diarrhea. Especially with a small dog or a puppy, this risk is higher. There are also risks of other gastrointestinal issues that can occur. In general, ice cream is not a good dog treat. Let's look at ice cream a little more closely.
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Ice cream flavors that are safe for dogs
Some ice cream flavors might be safe for puppies in small doses and some will not be. Always consult a list of foods poisonous to dogs before feeding your puppy any new treats. For example, dogs cannot have chocolate or raisins. Sugar free ice creams may also be harmful to your dog — some sugar replacements, like xylitol, are poisonous to animals (xylitol is also common in many toothpastes formulated for humans, which is why it is not ever recommended to brush a dog's teeth with human toothpaste). Regular vanilla ice cream is generally considered a safe flavor for dogs and puppies to eat.
Avoid giving ice cream to young puppies still nursing
A puppy that is still nursing is definitely not old enough for ice cream. Puppies generally switch from nursing to food at age six to eight weeks and should be gradually weaned off milk and introduced to solid food slowly. Puppies begin the transition to adult dog food anywhere between the ages of 10 months and 2 years, depending on the size and breed of the dog. Puppies can enjoy treats like ice cream when they are completely weaned off of their mother's milk and settled into their solid puppy food diet.
Is there dog ice cream?
Some pet food companies and specialty stores produce and sell specific "dog ice cream," a frozen treat designed for dogs. Puppies can have doggy ice cream in small amounts as long as they are old enough to eat treats. Doggy ice cream is made with yogurt, rather than cream, to make it easier for dogs and puppies to digest.
Food allergies in dogs
Many dogs, like humans, lose the ability to process lactose (the sugar in milk) after they switch from their mother's milk to food. This is called lactose intolerance. Puppies are less likely to develop lactose intolerance if they continue to eat lactose-containing foods, such as milk and ice cream, after weaning off their all-milk diet.
Your puppy may be allergic to other foods as well. If possible, have your veterinarian test your puppy for food allergies with a hypoallergenic diet regimen. If you notice your puppy acting strangely after eating, such as drowsiness, anxiety, diarrhea, or vomiting, these can be indications of a food allergy, and the issue should be addressed immediately.
Give dogs treats in moderation
The key to all treat giving is moderation. A few bites of ice cream won't harm your puppy, as long as the above criteria are followed. However, any significant, sudden increase of a new food in a puppy's diet can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and in severe cases, vomiting. Also, the high fat and sugar content in ice cream can cause weight gain if given regularly as a treat, so a little goes a long way when you give your puppy ice cream!