Skip to main content

Are Starbucks Puppuccinos bad for dogs? Here’s what veterinarians have to say

Can my dog have a Starbucks puppuccino? Here's what the experts say about whipped cream

A dog licks a person's finger with yogurt on their nose
Chris Slupski / Unsplash

Whether you’re inspired by the adorable viral videos or that sweet look of pleading in your dog’s eyes, letting Fido enjoy a Starbucks Puppuccino can be the highlight of your day. Despite being a little messy, this yummy treat is so worth it — who doesn’t love some happy tail wags and a cream-covered nose?

This popular Starbucks trend has left many dog owners with questions, though. What exactly is in a Puppuccino — or “Pup Cup” — and is it safe for dogs? Several veterinarians and canine experts have weighed in with their opinions and advice, so you’ll know exactly what to do next time you and your buddy hit up Starbucks — or anywhere else that offers a similar treat.

A Ddchshund stands in front of a black background and licks whipped cream from a canister someone holds
akatz66/Adobe Stock

What is a Puppuccino? Will I always get the same thing when I order one?

When you order your dog a Starbucks Puppuccino, or Pup Cup, all you get is a cup of whipped cream for your buddy to enjoy. Most of the time, you’ll get a three-ounce espresso cup filled with the sweet treat, but every now and then, you’ll run into a location that offers Pup Cups in kids’ or short-size cups, which are eight ounces in size. That’s great news for larger dogs!

Starbucks makes its whipped cream out of two popular ingredients: heavy whipping cream and vanilla syrup. It’s rare to find a store that’s out of either of these products, so whipped cream is virtually always on the menu. Puppuccinos have become more and more popular, too — especially since viral videos of dogs enjoying this treat are nearly everywhere online — so your barista will know exactly what you’re talking about no matter what you call it. Puppuccino, Pup Cup, a cup of whipped cream — it’s all the same!

And, as TikTok can confirm, the baristas love meeting your fur babies just as much as you love bringing them to coffee.

Can dogs have whipped cream? Experts give the thumbs up for this occasional treat

As much as dogs love whipped cream, it’s understandable why many pet parents question its safety. After all, it’s a very sweet treat that even some people don’t sit well with. Luckily, veterinarian toxicologist Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, told Daily Paws that many dogs don’t experience any negative side effects from the occasional whipped cream tidbit. In fact, the behavioral scientists at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center even recommend using a small amount of this sweet treat to help your dog take a pill. Whether it hides the pill well enough is another story…

Dogs who do face the consequences of eating whipped cream will experience gas, diarrhea, and–less commonly–vomiting. Typically, notes Daily Paws, these effects will stop once the offending substance is out of their system.

It’s important to note that while Starbucks’ particular whipped cream recipe is safe for dogs in moderation, others may not be. If whipped cream is sweetened with artificial sweeteners like xylitol (aka birch sugar), it can be toxic to your dog (via VCA Hospitals). Low-sugar and sugar-free products are more likely to contain xylitol, but it’s always worth double-checking.

Schmid and her colleagues at Pet Poison Helpline give the A-OK for whipped cream, but that doesn’t mean it can be an everyday treat. Heavy whipping cream is high in fat, while vanilla syrup contains a lot of sugar, so having too much of the fluffy stuff can lead to problems like weight gain, diabetes, and pancreatitis (via PetMD). Besides, anything tastes better when it’s a special treat!

Schnauzer and Jack Russel terrier licking whipped cream out of a red cup
Staniela R. Nikolova/Shutterstock

Lactose intolerance can stop dogs from enjoying a Pup Cup

Why do some dogs react well to a Starbucks Puppuccino while others get quite sick? It all comes down to lactose intolerance — the same condition many people face every day. While some folks (and dogs) can power through mild symptoms, others must avoid dairy products altogether.

According to the experts at the American Kennel Club (AKC), the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Loose stools
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

Diagnosing lactose intolerance in dogs can be tricky, especially since dogs can experience these symptoms if they consume too much dairy at once, even if they’re not lactose intolerant (via AKC). You’ll have to offer a small amount of milk to test whether your pup fits the bill. This way, you’ll know exactly what your dog is reacting to (lactose or just overconsumption) and how intense the symptoms can be.

For a lot of dogs, lactose intolerance is not a problem. Even so, it’s important for pups to enjoy a sweet treat like Starbucks Puppuccinos on a semi-irregular basis to avoid any stomach upset or long-term health concerns. Besides, waiting a while between Starbucks runs will make the next Pup Cup so much more special!

A pug stands in front of a pink background and licks whipped cream off of his nose
Casey Elise Christopher / Shutterstock

Pup Cup alternatives for lactose-intolerant dogs that need a treat

Whether your dog is sensitive to dairy or on a low-sugar diet, you may need to find an alternative treat to compete with the coveted Puppuccino. Don’t worry — there are plenty of options. Many animals enjoy refreshing ice water in the summertime, and some even splurge with freeze-dried fruit mixed in. Depending on what snack you order, you might be able to share a bite with your buddy. If all else fails, it doesn’t hurt to keep a small bag of dog treats in your car for times like this — as long as you don’t live in bear country, of course.

Pup Cups, or Puppuccinos, can be a perfect treat for some dogs to enjoy on special occasions. Unless you’ve noticed your fur baby feeling unwell after eating whipped cream, this Starbucks treat is perfectly fine. Just try to resist stealing a lick before they get to it.

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
5 easy-to-make DIY dog treats that you can make for your pup this fall
Fall-inspired DIY dog treats you can whip up
A marble countertop with miniature pumpkins and fall-themed dog treats

There are so many festive fall foods, but finding the perfect homemade dog treat recipe for your autumn gathering can be trickier than you think. Luckily, many of this season’s freshest crops and ingredients are healthy, nutritious autumn additions to your dog’s diet. Pumpkin, apple, even cinnamon … these flavors practically scream "fall."
Even if you don’t have any big plans, baking up some cute and healthy homemade dog treats is a great way to bond with your dog when the weather gets cozy. Food-motivated pups will especially appreciate these DIY dog treats, and you’ll love the sweet, cozy vibes you’ll get from cooking for your fur baby. It’s the perfect night in!

How to prepare pumpkin spice for dogs -- because even dogs should get a taste of this autumn delicacy
While you're sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, there's no reason your furry friend should miss out. Luckily, there's a dog-safe recipe for pumpkin spice that you can make from home.
However you want to prepare these autumnal ingredients, you should know a few things about pumpkin spice for dogs. Pumpkin on its own is full of nutrients, such as vitamins and iron; plus, its high fiber content can regulate finicky digestive systems (via American Kennel Club). Just ensure your dog doesn’t get added sugars with her pumpkin, as this isn’t good for her.
When preparing your spice mix, remember to avoid nutmeg. This ingredient isn’t healthy for pups, and it can easily be substituted for a similar flavor. Instead, a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, and a dash of vanilla extract will do. Use these ingredients to spice up nearly any biscuit, yogurt, or pumpkin-flavored dog treat--for you or your pup!

Read more
9 frighteningly amazing large dog Halloween costume ideas to try this October
Spooky, adorable, and easy-to-make large dog Halloween costumes
Border Collie in a skeleton shirt sits in a pile of autumn leaves

The spookiest night of the year is almost upon us, which means it’s time to plan everyone’s festive outfits... including your pup's! With these large dog Halloween costumes, even your dog can be part of the frightening fun. And here’s the best part: You don’t have to spend a ton on these dog Halloween costume ideas, either.
Not only are they all reasonably priced (especially compared with Halloween costumes for people), but some are completely DIY-able, too. It's a crafter's dream! How you ultimately decide to dress up your dog is totally up to you — she's going to be the star of the show this Halloween, no matter what. Just don't make her look too spooky!

Beanie Baby DIY name tags are perfect Halloween accessories for any pet
If your childhood self would have loved the idea of a life-sized Beanie Baby, you can make that dream come true this Halloween. All you need for this adorable project is cardboard and some paint (or colored construction paper if you’d rather) to design your pet’s own Beanie Baby tag. Bonus points if you go the extra mile and write her a custom biography poem!
Once you've designed and glued this adorable tag together, all you need to do is attach it to your pup’s collar — and snap some pictures, of course. An oversized tag might be more eye-catching, so plan your size before you cut any materials!

Read more
8 easy and affordable small dog Halloween costume ideas that are perfect for both tricks and treats
Try one of these small dog Halloween costumes
French bulldog dog dressed up with funny cactus Halloween dog costume

With so much spooky cuteness rolled up into a four-legged package, it’s tough to top dogs in Halloween costumes. Everyone you meet is in for a treat, especially when you have a well-thought-out outfit for your pup. And maybe they'll see a trick, too, if your dog is up for it!
These small dog Halloween costumes pack an extra punch of cuteness with their miniature sizing, but many come (or can be made) in various sizes. From DIYs to store bestsellers, these outfits for petite pups will surely be winners come Halloween night.
These are our eight frighteningly fabulous favorites.

DIY your dog a pair of custom bat or dragon wings
Your pet may not breathe fire, but he can surely act like it! Unleash your doggo's inner dragon with a quick and fun DIY project you can spend as much time on as you like. All you need is cardboard or foam core, paint, a harness or jacket for your pup, and something like Velcro to attach the wings to the harness.
First, use your cardboard or foam core and scissors to cut out a pair of wings, then decorate them however you like. You can use paint, sequins, fabric, or anything else that won’t weigh down the cardboard/foam core. Once the wings are all prepared, use your Velcro (or whatever fastener you'd like) to attach them to the harness or jacket. Keeping the wings attached while your buddy moves around is the trickiest part, so give yourself plenty of time to experiment!

Read more