Wanting to give your sweet pup a cold sweet treat when it’s hot outside? But what happens if they get a brain freeze?

dog eating ice cream

What Causes Those Ice Cream Headaches?

Whether you call it an ice cream headache or a brain freeze, we all know what that means. The sharp shooting pain that comes right at the top of the bridge of your nose, in between your eyes. It burns, and it hangs on for a few seconds. But it always seems much longer!

We know it’s going to happen if we eat our ice cream or popsicles too fast. Yet we get so excited about our sweet icy treat, that we do it again and again. But why does this happen? And does it happen to dogs too?

Houston scientists have actually figured out what causes those pesky brain freezes. “‘A brain freeze is what happens when cold food touches a bundle of nerves in the back of the palate,’ said Stephanie Vertrees, assistant professor at the Texas A&M University.”

This is the same bundle of nerves that is to blame for migraine headaches and other “cluster headaches.” Some people actually try to give themselves a brain freeze to break a migraine. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for some.

The trick to avoiding brain freezes or ice cream headaches is to slow down.

dog with brain freeze

Can Dogs Get Ice Cream Headaches?

Unfortunately, yes. Dogs can get an “ice cream headache” or “brain freeze” from eating a cold tasty treat too fast. The difficult part for dogs is that they can’t understand why the headache is coming on. And while we, as humans, can know to slow down or stop eating that cold treat, a dog will just feel the pain, be confused, and keep eating.

So help your pup out, and maybe just give them a small bite at a time. Or you could even put their cold treat in a slow feeder dog bowl, so they are forced to eat it slower.

Can a Brain Freeze Be Harmful?

Thankfully, brain freezes have no lasting damage or effect on your dog. Stephanie Vertrees—who’s mentioned above—tells us that “brain freezes are not dangerous and [are] very self-limiting.” Meaning they are there to help tell you to slow down. So help your dog do the same.

Is Dairy Bad for Dogs?

Now when it comes to the question of cold dairy treats, here’s some important information you should know. Some dogs can be lactose intolerant, just like humans. So the next time you want to share your cold or frozen dairy treat with your pup, try giving them just a little bite first. Then wait and see how your dog reacts. If your dog doesn’t have any adverse effects, then dairy is just fine—in small quantities.

dog eating ice cream

Is it OK for Dogs to Eat Ice Cream?

During the summer, lots of people love to share their ice cream treats with their dogs. You might even see some people purchasing a small vanilla ice cream cone specifically for their dog. But keep this in mind… although dairy isn’t toxic—because most dogs aren’t lactose intolerant—ice cream should only be an occasional treat. And even then, it’s really not the best thing to feed your dog.

Not only does dairy contain high fat, high calories, and some sugar… When you turn it into ice cream, you add tons of extra sugar! Over time, this type of treat will cause real problems with obesity and diabetes. Occasionally, it’s ok to give your dog a small amount of plain, vanilla ice cream. But they still might struggle with stomach issues afterward because of the fat and sugar content.

popsicles and ice

DIY Frozen Popsicles for Dogs

There are tons of DIY frozen treats you can make at home that are much more dog-friendly! Treats with no added sugars, and no dairy—or just plain, unsweetened yogurt.

Flavored ice cubes

Grab your ice tray and fill it with some yummy tasty liquids that are safe for your dog. You can try a chicken or beef broth—just watch the sugar and salt content. And you can even fill it half way, freeze it, then add something special in the middle—like a frozen blueberry. Fill it the rest of the way with the liquid, and freeze the rest.

Fill their KONG with a frozen treat

Use their KONG as the holder. Put some peanut butter in the bottom to plug up the hole. And then fill it with the same liquid from option #1, or fill it with the mixture from option #3. Then freeze it!

Frozen yogurt and fruit

Use plain, unsweetened yogurt, plus some dog-friendly fruit like watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, or bananas. Mix it all together in a blender. Then fill it into a popsicle tray, and freeze it. You can use something fun and tasty for the stick like a dog treat or a bully stick. Get creative! You could even make it cold—not frozen—like a smoothie. And then pour it into their slow feeder dog bowl.

Whatever you choose, there are plenty of fun and tasty options for your pup’s special treats—that are also safe and healthy. So let’s avoid any unnecessary health issues or stomach upset. And let’s feed our dogs some good old health snacks!

For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.

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