All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

We All Bark for Ice Cream!

Hey Marie,
There are times when I share my ice cream with Peaches, my dog. Sometimes she does not lick the small scoop I place on a paper plate; instead she swallows the entire piece. I now give her very little ice cream at a time. My question is, do dogs get what we humans call "brain freeze"? She never seems to be in pain, nor do I ever want her to be. I appreciate your time.
Keep up the good work.

Dear Sergio,
What a great topic for July – which by coincidence happens to be National Ice Cream Month. More ice cream is sold in July than in any other month, which is not surprising, considering it is usually the hottest month of the year.

You may also be interested in knowing that according to surveys, at least five percent of people share their ice cream with their dogs or cats, so you are definitely not alone in this treat-giving category of pet owners.

Dogs indeed get what most of us people refer to as brain freeze, if they consume frozen treats too quickly – but usually dogs learn that if they take their time, it won’t happen. No dog will eat anything that makes him or her feel too uncomfortable, though. So if your dog doesn't seem to mind and happily continues accepting your offerings, than I wouldn't worry about it.

Some dogs seem to have a higher tolerance for frozen treats than others, but no dog will ever turn down ice cream, no matter how much brain freeze he or she experiences. The same is true for people when you think about it!

You should keep in mind, however, that dairy products are really not the best treats for companion animals. Dogs and cats tend to get upset stomachs from eating anything with milk; though I do know that it is virtually impossible to resist giving a few licks to face with big, sad, begging eyes that can see you enjoying a cool, sweet, frosty cone, and I suppose a few licks never hurt anyone!

Be especially careful though with chocolate ice cream, or any ice cream that contains chocolate chips. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs and in high enough doses, can be deadly. As a general rule, never give chocolate in any form to your pet.

An alternative to ice cream intended for people are frozen treats formulated especially for pets. These pet foods contain no dairy products. One such item - Frosty Paws – which is available in most grocery stores, has annual sales of more than ten million dollars. Clearly, there are many pet owners like you who truly enjoy sharing their ice-cream experience with their dogs and cats.

Though I've never personally tasted doggie frozen treats, I understand from other pet owners that they are quite good. But the proof is in the pudding – or perhaps the delectable peanut butter and cheese flavored frozen treats that my dog can’t get enough of.

In addition to traditional flavors like vanilla, there are some fairly unusual flavored pet treats that you won’t be seeing any time soon at the corner ice cream store. But that is an added benefit in disguise. Most of the faux ice creams for companion animals are nutritionally sound and vitamin fortified, so you don’t need to feel too bad about giving your little girl too many empty calories.

Nevertheless as with any treat, you should never overdo. Make sure your dog gets a good diet and lots of exercise. All too often in these hot summer months, daily walks get shortened or eliminated. I recommend taking walks early in the morning and/or late in the evening when it is cool outside. And then in the middle of the day when everyone is screaming for ice cream, go ahead and enjoy a little.

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