Can Dogs Eat Chocolate Ice Cream?

3 scoops of chocolate ice cream in a bowl with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon

A big NO would be our spontaneous reaction to this question. Ice cream is generally not healthy for dogs but things become much worse when we talk about the chocolate flavor.

The presence of Methylxanthines (caffeine, Theobromine, etc.) makes chocolate poisonous for canines because they can’t digest these substances. Therefore, it is highly recommended to keep your dog away from chocolate ice cream (or any other form of chocolate). If your dog gets into chocolate ice cream, you MUST contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Why is Chocolate Ice Cream Bad for Dogs?

Ranging from Theobromine to Xylitol, various reasons make chocolate ice cream unsuitable for dogs.

Methylxanthines (Theobromine)

chocolate- broken, shavings, and grated on a dark surface

The digestive system of dogs is much slower than humans to metabolize Methylxanthines. This makes them poisonous to dogs and Theobromine is the most dangerous among these chemicals. The accumulation of this toxic substance affects the heart, kidneys, and central nervous system of your canine.

Lactose Intolerance

In addition to Theobromine (and other Methylxanthines), another reason to avoid giving your dog chocolate ice cream is lactose intolerance. A lot of dog breeds are not good at digesting milk and dairy products. Consequently, they may suffer from severe diarrhea and vomiting to increase your worries even more.

Unhealthy Components

containers of sugar, salt, and oil

Similarly, high amounts of sugar and fats are also unhealthy for your canine companions. In the long run, they can cause pancreatitis, which is not only agonizing but also fatal in some cases. Because chocolate ice cream hardly carries any nutritional value, it’s best to keep it away from dogs.

Xylitol

Another ingredient in the chocolate ice cream that can be harmful to dogs is Xylitol. This is true for people who prefer sugar-free ice cream because xylitol is used as an artificial sweetener. The consumption of xylitol causes a surge of insulin to be released in your pet’s system. As a result, blood sugar levels drop drastically and the dog may experience weakness, seizure, or even liver failure.

Generally, it takes 4-24 hours for the signs of chocolate poisoning to appear. However, this is NOT a hard-and-fast rule and a variation is very much possible. This is because the severity of toxicity depends on the amount of chocolate consumed and the size of the dog. As a rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of poisonous substances.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning

Jack Russell Terrier laying down next to open chocolate bar

It is not necessarily the chocolate ice cream that can cause toxicity. Any form of chocolate (chips, swirls, flavoring, or chunks) in ice cream can be troublesome for your canine. Therefore, it is important to keep your dog busy while you enjoy your ice cream. Some of the common symptoms that indicate chocolate poisoning are listed below.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased Body Temperature
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Seizures

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate Ice Cream?

closeup of scoops of chocolate ice cream

If your dog has eaten chocolate ice cream or you observe the mentioned symptoms, contact your vet immediately. Alternatively, you can also get the expert advice of veterinarians from the Pet Poison Helpline.

If possible, you should try to take your dog to the nearby pet clinic. This is because urgent treatment can save your dog (and you) from quite a lot of trouble. However, the vet will need you to perform some homework before visiting him/her. For instance, he/she may inquire you for the amount of chocolate ice cream your dog consumed.

Likewise, you should know (or at least have an idea) the time when the dog ate it. If the packaging of the ice cream is still there, you should take it to the vet. All this information will help him/her to determine the extent of the toxicity and possible treatment methods.

Once the vet has completed initial assessments, activated charcoal could be used to reduce the absorption of Theobromine. Similarly, IV fluids are provided to the canine to assist Theobromine excretion. In addition to that, these fluids also help your pet to stabilize itself by countering dehydration.  

How Much Chocolate is Dangerous for My Dog?

9 square chocolate bar sprinkled with cocoa powder

In ideal cases, it is highly recommended to keep your dog away from chocolate altogether. It doesn’t offer any nutritional benefits to your pet so there is no point in taking the risk. However, if your dog manages to find his/her way to some chocolate ice cream, you should know the calculations.

As we know that the toxicity of chocolate is dependent on Theobromine, its quantity is critical. According to a general rule, 100-150 milligrams of Theobromine per kilogram of bodyweight is toxic to dogs. This means that 3000 mg of Theobromine can be fatal for a dog weighing 30 kg. For example, 8 ounces of dark chocolate and 2-3 ounces of baking chocolate can be lethal for this dog.

Another factor that determines the effect of chocolate on a dog is his/her breed. Smaller dog breeds are more vulnerable to chocolate poisoning in comparison to larger canines. Therefore, the quantity of chocolate that is safe for your dog will vary from case to case. In case of an emergency, you can use an online chocolate toxicity calculator to get an estimate.    

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Hi! My name is Heather Hallman. I’m the mother of two beautiful girls and a MAJOR passionate pet parent. I can hardly wait to bring you the BEST resources and information that I've found for our fur-babies.