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Are Puppuccinos Actually Safe For Dogs?


Do you love Starbucks? A lot of people do. It makes sense, given they offer more than 87,000 drink combinations to its customers. In fact, Starbucks is the world's largest coffee company with over 32,000 stores worldwide. One non-drink they offer off their "secret" menu is the Puppuccino - a special treat for our canine companions. But are Puppuccinos actually safe for dogs to eat? Find out here.

What Is A Puppuccino?

A Puppuccino is an espresso-sized cups of whipped cream that's part of Starbucks "secret" menu. The cups hold up to three ounces and the primary ingredients are cream and sugar. There is no coffee, caffeine or cocoa and because it's fresh, there are no preservatives (like in whipped creams you buy from the grocery store).

Do Other Chain Restaurants Have Puppuccinos?

While the Starbucks Puppuccino is the most popular, there are other versions at a variety chain restaurants. They include:

  • Dunkin Donuts - Puppy Latte (whipped cream)
  • Dairy Queen - Pup Cup (vanilla ice cream, sometimes with a dog treat)
  • Shake Shack - Poochini (vanilla custard and dog biscuits)

Is Whipped Cream Bad For Dogs?

Even though a little whipped cream shouldn't cause serious harm to your dog, it really isn't the healthiest snack for them. This is because it's a dairy product that is high in fat, sugar and calories (especially relative to your dog's size) - which can have negative effects on your dog's health. And since most dogs are lactose intolerant, even small amounts of whipped cream may cause digestive issues and gastrointestinal upset. So you'll certainly want to avoid giving your dog whipped cream if they have a sensitive stomach, health issues or a special diet. Here are more details about why dogs shouldn't eat whipped cream: 

1. Lactose Intolerance

Most dogs have some degree of lactose intolerance. This is because their bodies are not design to digest milk once they are weaned. As puppies, canines have the enzyme (lactase) necessary to break down their mother's milk. But once weaned, their bodies cease to produce it. When adult dogs ingest milk products, it can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal discomfort and issues such as gas, stomach pain, loose stools or diarrhea and vomiting.

2. High Fat Content

People have estimated that the Starbucks Puppuccino has between 12-24 grams of fat, with 7-14 grams of that being saturated fat. Foods with high fat content can cause issues for dogs, most commonly gastrointestinal upset (such as diarrhea or loose stools, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain). In worst case scenarios, though, high fat dairy products can lead to canine pancreatitis. This condition tends to arise with no warning and can be life-threatening, so it's important to know the signs:

 

  • Repetitive vomiting (several times within a few hours or over several days)
  • Pain and discomfort of the abdomen (dogs typically show their discomfort)
  • Distention or bloating of the abdomen
  • Hunched back or posture
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Fever

If your dog exhibits one of these signs, monitor them. However, if they show multiple signs simultaneously and repeatedly, or you believe they have pancreatitis, seek veterinarian care immediately. If your vet is not open, you can go to an emergency vet clinic. 

3. High Sugar Content

Dogs do need sugar of some sort but it's in the form of carbohydrates that are broken down into glucose. Excessive amounts of other sugar can have adverse effects for dogs. Issues that can arise from too much sugar consumption in dogs include:

 

  • Inflammation throughout the body
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting
  • Weight gain and obesity (which can lead to stress on the joints and arthritis, difficulty breathing or respiratory issues, lethargy, diabetes and heart disease)
  • Metabolic changes due to increased secretion of insulin that can affect other hormones in the body, muscle tone, fat storage, immune system and energy levels
  • Cavities and dental disease (e.g. as bacteria in the mouth uses sugar, it produces acids that can lead to loss of enamel and eventually dental issues)
  • Depression or agitation
  • Infections, such as urinary tract or kidney
  • Hyperactivity  
4. Food Allergies

Lastly, many dogs suffer from allergies, including food ones. They may be allergic to milk or dairy, which is different from lactose intolerance. As aforementioned, lactose intolerance occurs because of a lack of lactase to break down dairy. Milk or dairy allergies occur when the immune system reacts negatively to proteins found in those products. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes that are red and itchy.

5. Toxic Flavors And Ingredients

Although Starbucks' Puppaccinos don't have additives, other whipped creams might. Those that come in a variety of flavors and low-calorie or low-sugar options may contain toxic ingredients. For example, opting for a low-sugar whipped cream for yourself may be fine but it could contain Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. In addition, some whipped cream is flavored, which can be dangerous for dogs. Even dairy free options aren't the best, as they're often made with nut milk or coconut cream, both of which are high in fat.

How Much Whipped Cream Can My Dog Have?

The safest amount of whipped cream for your dog is none. But if you do want to give them some, you'll want to take into account their size. The smaller the dog, the less whipped cream they can eat. It's recommended that treats make up less than 10% of your dog's total daily calories and the Starbucks Puppuccino is estimated to have between 120-240 calories. So definitely skip all other treats for the day if you give your dog a Puppuccino. In addition, it's recommended that you don't give your dog whipped cream every day as it should be, at most, an occasional treat. No matter the size of your dog, make sure to start with small amounts. This is especially important if it's your dog's first time eating whipped cream.

Pro Tip: It's never a bad idea to consult your vet before giving your dog new treats, especially human foods.

Signs Your Dog Doesn't Tolerate Puppuccinos

If your dog isn't tolerating Puppuccinos or whipped cream, they'll show signs. These can arise within minutes, hours or even days depending on the individual dog. Symptoms of intolerance include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Itching

    If your dog does show any of these signs after consuming whipped cream, it's safe to assume they don't tolerate lactose. Consult your vet if signs do not resolve within a day or two.

    A Safer Alternative To Whipped Cream

    If you want to give your dog a safer alternative to whipped cream, you can whip your own using coconut milk with nothing added to it. Coconut is non-toxic to dogs, but does contain fats that can cause some gastrointestinal upset and bloating. Always monitor your dog after giving them new foods.

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