Every two weeks my son and I will go to McDonald’s as a treat and will often have Claude the dog in the car when we hit the drive through. Recently it was been really hot, so we treated ourselves to a soft serve ice cream the last time we went.
As we sat in the parking lot, our dog leaned over to my young son and took a large mouthful of his McDonald’s soft serve, gulping it down in seconds. I don’t think I am the first person whose dog has eaten McDonald’s ice cream and won’t be the last! Based on that, I wanted to explore if you should be worried if your dog decides to eat McDonald’s soft serve.
Can dogs eat McDonald’s ice cream?
Dogs should not really eat McDonald’s soft serve and ice cream products. Ice cream has no nutritional value, is high in sugar, and some of the ice cream products also contain chocolate, a toxic ingredient to dogs. Many dogs are also lactose intolerant, so could get upset stomachs after eating McDonald’s ice cream.
The reality is, if you dog chows down on some McDonald’s ice cream it’s not going to kill him. However, if you do decide to let your pup eat a McDonald’s soft serve cone or ice cream dessert, be prepared for what could be unpleasant results!
Why you should not let your dog eat McDonald’s soft serve
And then there’s the long-term health of your dog to consider, with some McDonald’s sundaes and McFlurry products containing up to 510 calories in one serving. For a small to medium sized dog breed like a French Bulldog, that’s a nearly 82% of their daily recommended calorie intake!
Not to mention the potential for canine obesity due to the high sugar, milk fat, and cream levels. There are also large amounts of artificial colorings and preservatives in a McDonald’s McFlurry and ice cream sundaes.
It’s a scary thought actually, as any form of high fat food is bad for a dog, and McDonald’s ice cream is chock full of the stuff. High fat foods not only lead to obesity but can also be a contributory factor towards canine diabetes and hypertension.
I also mentioned how many dogs are lactose intolerant. The American Kennel Club say the following:
“Dairy products are a leading source of food intolerance in dogs, and many canines are lactose intolerant, which means they have difficulty digesting milk. Some lactose intolerant dogs have trouble drinking milk but can handle dairy products like cheese and plain yogurt, which are typically easier to digest than straight milk. Others have adverse reactions to dairy in general.”
What happens when a dog eats McDonald’s ice cream?
You might find that your dog suffers after eating McDonald’s ice cream products, with the possibility of gastrointestinal pain and diarrhea… not to mention bad farts!
Do you really want to risk giving your dog McDonald’s ice cream after hearing all that? I don’t think I would, but if you need more clarity, let’s look at the calorie consequences.
How McDonald’s ice cream calories stack up
Firstly, vets recommend that a dog’s daily diet should be restricted to 25 calories for every pound in weight they weigh. They also recommend that dogs only have 10% of their diet set aside for treats – this is the commonly followed 90/10 rule for food.
As I mentioned earlier, for a French Bulldog one McDonald’s McFlurry could account for over half our dog’s recommended daily calorie intake, which is incredible.
To understand this a little better, I researched the weight averages of two of the country’s most popular dog breeds; French Bulldogs and Labradors. This let me calculate how many calories each dog should be allowed to eat each day, and how McDonald’s soft serve ice cream, sundaes, or a McFlurry could impact that.
- Average French Bulldog is 25 pounds: Should eat no more than 625 calories daily.
- Average Labrador is 70 pounds: Should eat no more than 1,750 calories daily.
I then looked at some of the most popular McDonald’s ice cream products and how many calories they contained to work out the percentage of each dog’s daily intake.
- 1 x McDonald’s Soft Serve Cone (150 calories): 24% French Bulldog / 9% Labrador daily intake.
- 1 x McDonald’s Ice Cream Sundae (210 calories): 34% French Bulldog / 12% Labrador daily intake.
- 1 x McDonald’s Plain McFlurry (233 calories): 37% French Bulldog / 13% Labrador daily intake.
- 1 x McDonald’s McFlurry with Oreo Cookies (510 calories): 82% French Bulldog / 29% Labrador daily intake.
- 1 x McDonald’s M&Ms McFlurry (620 calories): 99% French Bulldog / 35% Labrador daily intake.
Whilst the calorie content doesn’t look that big for a larger dog breed like a Labrador, the results are scary for smaller to medium sized dogs.
But regardless of how many calories McDonald’s ice cream can add to your dog’s diet, it’s probably more alarming when you look at the ingredients.
For example, a McDonald’s M&M’s McFlurry ice cream is made up of x core ingredients:
Milk ingredients, sugar, modified milk ingredients, glucose, mono and diglycerides, guar gum, dextrose, carrageenan, cellulose gum, natural flavour, sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate.
In the M&Ms, the following ingredients are listed:
Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa mass, milk ingredients, cocoa butter, lactose, soy lecithin, salt, artificial flavours), sugar, colour (with tartrazine), tapioca dextrin, corn syrup, corn starch, carnauba wax, modified coconut oil and/ or modified palm oil (medium chain triglycerides).
There’s absolutely nothing in those ingredients that you could say were good for a dog to eat, and the chocolate in particular is very alarming. In fact, a blog post on the American Kennel Club’s website says this about dogs eating chocolate:
“Chocolate is toxic to dogs and depending on the type and amount of chocolate consumed and the weight of your dog, it could cause a serious medical emergency.”
However, I don’t want to panic you too much.
If your dog has eaten a McDonald’s ice cream with chocolate it would have to eat quite a few to become fatally poisoned. However, it is dependent on the size, age, and health of your dog so it’s not something I would even consider risking.
Interesting there is also sodium in the McDonald’s soft serve ice cream. This is another ingredient not safe for dogs to eat.
Dogs should not eat more than 1.5g of salt a day. Anything more than that can lead to dehydration and sodium ion poisoning.
I think you get the point.
The bottom line is this; McDonald’s ice cream is not a great choice for your dog. Whilst he or she might love the taste as a little treat, it’s not designed for them and can lead health issues when problems if sugar and high fat becomes a regular occurrence.
My dog ate McDonald’s ice cream, should I worry?
Whilst I don’t recommend you let your pooch munch on a McDonald’s soft serve or McFlurry, sometimes people make mistakes… or dogs can actually steal one straight out of your hand – it happened to us!
No matter how it happened, please don’t worry as chances are your pup will be fine. There isn’t enough in one ice cream to poison a dog. But he might get a bad belly in most cases.
But, as with anything of this nature, I always recommend that you consult with your vet if your dog eat something they shouldn’t have. I am not a vet, and the content in this guide should not be construed as professional advice.
Handy Hint: I also researched into other items on the McDonald’s menu and published a guide to what your dog can eat from there including the calories values of each meal.
We all have those moments where our dog looks up at us with those pleading eyes, but however much they beg, McDonald’s ice cream should really be off the menu.
High sugar and fatty milk products can soon mount up the health problems for dogs, so if you love your pup, it’s not worth it.
You might also like…
I regularly blog about what dogs can and can’t eat, and have focussed on McDonald’s a lot lately: