Updated: Aug 24
Is it okay to share an ice cream with your pup, or should you be avoiding it altogether?
It’s a summer sight as common as the sandcastle or Slurpie: Vancouver dogs lapping up ice cream like it’s the last treat on earth.
“My husky loves a weekly cone from DQ,” one downtown dog owner tells OhMyDog! “But her absolute favourite thing is a pint of strawberry Haagen Dazs.”
In fact, most dogs are so crazy for the cold and creamy stuff, many local coffee shops, food trucks, and pet stores offer mini ice cream bowls and cones for dogs. Stores have come a long way from offering just a bowl of communal warm water.
Bee Laidlaw of Global Pet Food in Burnaby sells doggie ice cream scoops that are “dog safe” as a popular summer treat.
“It’s a plain vanilla, natural cane sugar with salmon oil and duck kibble and sometimes liver sprinkles,” she tells OhMyDog! And yes, she’s tried it herself out of curiosity, and “won’t again,” she laughs.
Lick with caution: the potential dangers of ice cream
Laidlaw asks that owners be aware of any extra sweetness you’re feeding your dog.
“The main culprit in ice cream is the sugar content, and that can be trouble for diabetes and tooth decay,” she explains.
However, buying your dog sugar-free ice cream is not the answer. According to Dogs Naturally many sugarless ice creams contain an artificial sweetener called Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
Vets also agree that ingredients like chocolate can be very poisonous to dogs, so it’s crucial to watch what you share with your pet. The plainer the better.
And most importantly, and often overlooked, is the fact that dogs just aren’t designed to process dairy products.
Canines lack the digestive enzymes humans have to break down dairy - essentially making them mostly lactose intolerant. So while a cold cone might seem cute in the moment, nausea and diarrhoea aren’t as charming later on.
Observe how your dog reacts with a small sample and decide if, as an occasional reward, ice cream is a keeper.
They all scream (or bark) for ice cream
“Let’s face it, dogs want ice cream and owners are going to buy it anyway,” says Yvette Cuthburt, owner of Rocky Point Ice Cream in Port Moody.
Rocky Point serves a whopping 18,000 dogs a year, and Cuthbert says they were one of the first to consider true doggie cones. That was over 20 years ago, before it was a four-legged fashion to eat ice cream out on the town.
“Dogs pull their owners across the park to come to us,” she says. Some people tell her they can’t even say the word 'park' without their dogs begging for a cone. Many have to take alternate routes to avoid the aromas.
Cuthbert plays by the healthy cone rules, offering plain, all-natural ice cream, with kibble inclusions, and topped with a Milk Bone. She’s currently finalizing a deal with Vancouver dog cookie company Dogkie for new toppings, making their dog cones 100% local.
“We have more dogs than people on Instagram eating our ice cream,” she says. “Owners bring their dogs for birthdays, for rewards, and we often see old dogs come in for their ‘last cone’ which is always touching to see.”
There’s no denying it, everyone loves ice cream. And according to Cuthbert, dogs share the same problem we have.
“Moderation. That’s the key.”