You’re enjoying a dish of ice cream when you hear a whine beside you. Looking over, you see a pair of big, brown eyes pleading for a taste. You want to share your treat with your fur baby, but should you?
The short answer is no, and we’ll explain why below. But don’t feel too bad about depriving your pup of creamy cold goodness. There are plenty of frozen dog treats you can give them instead. Keep reading for ideas and frozen dog treat recipes to help your dog stay cool on a hot day -- and to get them to stop drooling over your rocky road.
Can Your Dog Eat Ice Cream?
Ice cream for dogs is a problematic treat for a number of reasons. The first is that many dogs are lactose intolerant. While a puppy’s digestive system produces plenty of lactase -- an enzyme that makes it possible to digest lactose -- while they’re nursing, lactase production subsides as they get older. Some dogs can still do okay with dairy products like cheese and yogurt, which have less lactose than milk and cream. But a lot of dogs can’t handle any dairy without getting an upset tummy.
Lest you think you can solve that problem by giving your dog lactose-free ice cream, milk and cream also contain proteins that cause allergic reactions in some dogs. If your dog has a dairy allergy, giving them ice cream can cause vomiting and diarrhea as well as itchy skin and coat problems.
Another problem with ice cream is that it may contain ingredients that are highly toxic to dogs, like chocolate, raisins, certain nuts, or sugar substitutes like xylitol. These can all cause kidney failure and death -- totally not worth it just to satisfy your pleading pooch.
Finally, the sugar content in ice cream isn’t good for your pup. Giving them “just a taste” of ice cream on a regular basis could lead to weight gain, which could in turn lead to diabetes, joint problems, heart disease and a number of other health issues. And don’t even think about giving your dog sugar-free ice cream -- again, depending on the sugar substitutes used, that could make them seriously ill.
The bottom line is, while it might be okay to occasionally give your pooch a little taste of plain vanilla ice cream if they can tolerate dairy, it’s generally safest to steer clear of feeding ice cream to your dog.
What About Other Frozen Human Treats?
Since some dogs can handle yogurt, you might think that it’s safe to give frozen yogurt to dogs. But there’s still the issue with high sugar content and potentially toxic flavorings and mix-ins.
What about popsicles for dogs? Again, most frozen human foods have added sugar and other ingredients that aren’t good for your dog. Even all-natural popsicles without any added sugar could be a choking hazard if the stick is left in.
In general, it’s simply best to stay away from giving frozen summer treats intended for humans to your dog.
How to Make Frozen Dog Treats
Here are several dog safe ingredients you can use to make diy frozen dog treats, with one caveat -- make sure your dog can handle yogurt by letting them sample small amounts before using it as a main ingredient. Also, be sure to remove seeds, skins and rinds from bananas and melons. And stay away from grapes and grape juice. Although they’re yummy when frozen, they’re highly toxic to dogs.
- Low-sodium broth
- Natural, unsalted creamy peanut butter
- Plain, unsweetened yogurt
- Pureed pumpkin
To make frozen dog treats, you could simply pop berries or fruit into the freezer to chill before giving them to your dog. Just be sure to cut bananas and melons into chunks first. You could also combine and puree ingredients in a blender and pour them into an ice cube tray, or use frozen dog treat molds to make them extra special for your fur bud.
The combinations may not be endless, but they’re enough to keep your dog happy throughout the summer. For inspiration, start with the simple homemade frozen dog treat recipes below.
Delicious and Healthy Frozen Dog Treat Recipes
These homemade frozen dog treats recipes are made with vet-approved ingredients and are a healthy solution to cold treats for dogs on hot days.
Peanut Butter Banana Pup-sicles
This recipe is simple, and so yummy you’ll be tempted to eat it yourself. If your fur bud can’t eat yogurt, leave it out and increase the other ingredients by half and add filtered water, if needed, a few teaspoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
To really make it special for your dog, add in bacon bits for an Elvis-inspired treat that’s cooler than the King.
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons natural, unsalted peanut butter
- 1 banana, sliced
Place banana, yogurt and peanut butter in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy. Pour mixture into treat molds, ice cube trays, or use it to fill a Kong. Place in the freezer until frozen.
Dog-Safe Nice Cream
This is not only a delicious dairy-free frozen treat for dogs with sensitive stomachs, but it’s also a great way to use up overripe bananas.
- 3 brown or spotted bananas, sliced
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Instructions: Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until it has a creamy consistency. Pour it into a freezer-safe pan and freeze until it has the consistency of ice cream. Scoop a spoonful into your dog’s dish.
Alternatively, you could pour it into paper cups to make individual servings, and peel the paper off before serving it to your pooch.
Dogs love meat as much as they love the sweet stuff, if not more. This dog-friendly version of a popsicle is sure to satisfy your meat-loving pooch.
- Low-sodium meat broth
- Bacon bits, dried liver or kibble pieces
- Bone-shaped dog biscuits
Instructions: Fill an ice cube tray, popsicle molds or small paper cups halfway with broth. Add in a few pieces of bacon, liver or kibble and let them settle to the bottom. Freeze until a dog biscuit can stand up in the middle like a popsicle handle. If necessary, top off with more broth and freeze until solid.
Red, White and Blue’s Party Pops
This colorful dog treat recipe makes a great healthy treat for the Fourth of July, or any other day you’re feeling a little patriotic.
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- ½ cup strawberries, sliced
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Instructions: Spoon berries and honey into yogurt and mix well. Spoon into ice cube trays or dog treat molds, or use to fill a Kong. Freeze until solid and serve.
Watermelon Pineapple Coolers
You could simply cut seedless watermelon into chunks, pop them in the freezer to chill, and give them to your dog, who would no doubt be happy with the result. But to put a little extra wag in their tail, follow these extra steps.
- Seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
- Pineapple, also cut into chunks
Instructions: Freeze chunks until chilled. Place frozen pieces in a blender and blend until it’s the consistency of a smoothie. Pour into ice cube trays or frozen dog treat molds and freeze until solid.
Healthy Frozen Dog Treats Couldn’t Be Easier
Trying to feed healthy treats to your dog while keeping them happy sometimes feels like a daunting task. But as you can see from the recipes above, a little creativity combined with a judicious selection of dog-safe human foods goes a long way. When it comes to homemade dog treats, it doesn’t get any easier than making DIY frozen treats for your dog. When the sun’s out and their tongue’s out, these treats are a great addition to your arsenal of ways to keep your dog cool.
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