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Are Starbucks Puppuccinos bad for my dog? Here’s what a veterinarian says

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 any day. Despite being a little messy, this yummy treat makes it 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, 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.

A Dachshund stands in front of a black background and licks whipped cream from a canister someone holds

What is a Puppuccino?

When you order your dog a Starbucks Puppuccino, or Pup Cup, at the drive-thru, all you’re getting 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.

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, 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.

@julianna_kopp

#starbucks #pupcup #dogs #dogsoftiktok

♬ original sound – buggirl200

Can dogs have whipped cream?

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 or not it works is another story…

Dogs who do face the consequences of eating whipped cream will experience gas, diarrhea, and sometimes 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 this particular whipped cream recipe is safe for dogs in moderation, others may not. If whipped cream is sweetened with 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).

Schnauzer and Jack Russel Terrier licking whipped cream out of a red cup

Lactose intolerance in dogs

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 on a daily basis. While some folks (and dogs) can power through mild symptoms, others will need to avoid dairy products altogether.

According to the experts at the American Kennel Club, 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 any dog can experience these exact symptoms if they consume too much dairy at once (via AKC). To truly test whether your pup fits the bill, you’ll have to offer a small amount of milk. This way, you’ll know exactly what your dog is reacting to, 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!

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