Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream Cones?

Photo by Aasim Ahmed on Flickr

The US has the largest ice cream consumption worldwide.

90% of all households keep some ice cream in the freezer. 

The fascination with this creamy cold dessert is so great that if you don’t like ice cream, you might be branded un-American. 

Even American dogs want to do their duty and eat some ice cream, if only their owners would allow that. 

This doesn’t always happen as many people are not sure if ice cream is good for dogs? And what about the cones? 

Can dogs eat ice cream cones? 

Actually, they can, under certain conditions, and a lick of ice cream won’t cause any harm either.

By the way, did you know that before cones were invented people enjoyed the so-called ‘penny licks’ on the streets of London. 

The penny lick was a long-stemmed glass cup filled with a penny’s worth of ice cream. Customers would enjoy their treat to the very last drop, lick the glass container clean then hand it back to the street vendor, who hurried to fill it back with ice cream for the next customer.

What are the ingredients in an ice cream cone?

If your favorite dessert is ice cream, too, you might have heard it mentioned that the cone was invented at the 1904 World Fair in St.Louis, but that is not true. 

The first mention of a ‘cone with cream’ can be found in a cookery book written by a British lady, Agnes B. Marshall in the late 19th century. 

According to her recipe, such a cone could be made from a sweet paste based on flour and blanched almonds.

The modern cone was patented in 1901 by an Italian living in England, Antonio Valvona, who invented a ‘baking biscuit cup’ to serve ice cream on the go. 

At present, ice cream cones are made with flour, a bit of sugar and vegetable oil.  

For instance, those sold at Walmart for home use contain enriched wheat flour, a dash of tapioca flour, sugar and canola oil. 

A small 5g cone only has 20 calories, which is a good thing since there are already too many calories in the ice cream itself.

Are any of the ingredients in a cone toxic to dogs?

If we’re talking about a plain cone, no, none of the ingredients is toxic for your pet. That doesn’t make it a healthy treat though.

A cone is nothing but empty carbs. 

Never mind the label that says the cone is made with enriched flour, that also provides niacin and riboflavin, which are both vitamins in the B group. 

Some traces of vitamins don’t make an ice cream cone as healthy as fruits or veggies, let’s be serious.

Tapioca flour is nothing but starch, devoid of protein or nutrients. 

Just another source of empty calories, and cheaper than other grains.

The cone gets its yellowish color from annatto extract, which comes from the seeds of a tropical tree. 

At least it’s natural food coloring.

There’s nothing dangerous for your dog among these ingredients.

Such a treat is dangerous only for dogs that are allergic to gluten, but those are rare cases.

3 dangers of ice cream cones

Choking

Ice cream cones can be a choking hazard, if your dog doesn’t really bother with chewing his food. 

There’s a risk a piece of the cone will get stuck in his throat, particularly if it’s a fancy, double-layered cone.

If it’s a simple waffle type of cone, the risks are however negligible. 

Chocolate-dipped cones

Sometimes the cones are coated in chocolate or at least dipped in it to make them harder and more resilient. And tastier. 

While it certainly is tastier, this type of cone is dangerous for your dog. 

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, especially the dark one. It’s not just the caffeine in chocolate, but also a compound called theobromine. 

Dogs cannot metabolize these compounds like us and in large quantities they can cause significant health issues. 

Chocolate poisoning can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but in severe cases it can lead to tachycardia, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and collapse.

Nut dipped cones

Cases of nut allergy are very rare among dogs, but you should avoid giving your pet a nut-dipped cone anyway. 

This is because some of the nut pieces might be large enough to pose a choking risk. 

A German Shepherd probably won’t have a problem gulping down the cone, nuts or no nuts, but a Chihuahua or a puppy could easily choke on it. 

Can dogs eat ice cream?

This is the real issue here because who’d be as heartless as to give a dog just a plain cone without any ice cream in it? 

And the truth is dogs like this type of treat just as much as we do. 

If you give your dog a taste of ice cream, he’ll run into the kitchen the moment he hears opening the freezer’s door and he’ll be very, very sad if you don’t share it with him. 

A little bit of ice cream once in a while won’t cause any problem to your dog, but the two of you sitting on the couch every night licking ice cream that’s not a very good idea.  

Your faithful companion doesn’t need that much ice cream.

Before we even consider the ingredients, we need to look at the calories. 

One serving (132g) of ice cream packs 273 calories on average, which is huge for a dog. 

If your dog gets addicted to the stuff he’ll soon be rolling instead of running. 

Now, let’s have a look at the ingredients:

Fats

Fats are essential to ice cream as they give it its creamy texture. 

One serving of ice cream has 15g of fats, most of them saturated fats. 

The bad kind of fats that cause many health issues among dogs and humans. 

A dog’s diet should not contain more than 10% fats. 

Too much fats can cause pancreatitis, which is a very serious condition for dogs.

Most of these fats are milk-derived, and this might be a problem if the dog is lactose intolerant. 

The main symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs include diarrhea, bloating and abdominal discomfort. 

Sugar

One ice cream serving has 28g of sugar, and, once again it’s not a good type of sugar. 

Fruit sugars are considered safe for dogs, but refined sugar is not. 

A dog with a diet that is high in sugar is at risk of developing diabetes and cavities, not to mention weight gain. 

Artificial flavoring

This is the great unknown. 

Many commercial ice creams use all sorts of artificial flavorings or coloring. 

Very few use natural ingredients as they are more expensive. 

The sad truth about ice cream is that its yummy taste is often due to chemical compounds that can be very dangerous to us or our pets. 

The only good thing that can be said about ice cream is that it provides a decent amount of calcium (13% RDA for humans) and vitamin A (11%RDA).

All in all, sharing your ice cream with your dog on a regular basis can only make him fat and at risk of several serious health issues.

What types of ice cream can be deadly to dogs?

The safest type of ice cream for dogs is vanilla ice cream. There are two types of ice cream that can be deadly.

Chocolate ice cream

If you love your dog as much as you love chocolate ice cream, this is a treat you should not share with your pet. 

As mentioned above, eating this type of ice cream can lead to chocolate poisoning. 

If your dog manages to get his paws on your chocolate ice cream and eats it, you should give your vet a call. 

If that is not possible, monitor your dog and be prepared to rush him out if he gets diarrhea. 

And that’s the least of the problems! 

Should your dog become agitated or experience tremors, that’s a sign he might have chocolate poisoning.

Sugar-free ice cream

Sugar-free foods were invented to make people feel less guilty when they indulge in their favorite desserts. 

Check out the label of your sugar-free ice cream to see what they use instead of sugar. 

If it says xylitol, don’t even think about sharing it with your dog. 

Xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol and it is deemed safe for humans. However, dogs do not metabolize it like humans. 

Even a small amount of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, which is a massive drop in blood sugar levels in dogs. 

The first signs of hypoglycemia will appear within the hour. 

If your dog develops vomiting, lack of coordination, or general weakness, call Poison control or rush to the vet. 

Left untreated, hypoglycemia can be fatal. 

Best frozen treats for dogs

If you want to give your dog a cold treat on a hot summer day, try something homemade. 

Frankly speaking your dog will be perfectly happy with a frozen chew bone, but if you want to give him a special treat try a homemade pup-sicle.

Yogurt-based pup-sicles

All you need for this healthy treat is some plain yogurt and fresh fruit, whatever is in season – strawberries, blueberries, bananas, etc. 

Throw 1 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of sliced fruit into a blender and you can have a delicious ice cream mix in less than 1 minute.

You can pour the mix in special forms, stick a pretzel stick into each of them and put them in the freezer. 

You can offer your dog such a pup-sicle every time you’re having real ice cream.

If you want to make this treat more nutritious you can add a spoonful of peanut butter, but don’t overdo it as you need to keep an eye on the calorie intake.

So, can dogs eat ice cream cones?

As an occasional treat, a dog can have an ice cream cone, preferably with little ice cream left in it, as this type of dessert is highly-calorific. 

The cone itself does not contain any toxic ingredients and it has little calories. It doesn’t have any nutritional value, either. 

Instead of worrying about the cone, you should have a look at the ingredients in the ice cream, as this dessert is high in fats and sugar. 

If the dog gets a bit of ice cream once in a while, he’ll be fine, just don’t make this a daily treat.