Like any sweet treat, moderation is key! (Sound familiar?)

People love whipped cream. It's sweet, it's creamy, and it adds a smooth blast of sugar and dairy anywhere it lands. Of course, most of us don't whip up the cream ourselves, adding sugar and other flavorings, but buy it from the grocery store to scoop out of a tub or shoot out of a can.

Because it's sweet and you like to eat it, there's a good chance your dog likes to eat it too. But is whipped cream bad for dogs? What about those store-bought brands like Cool Whip or Reddi-wip? And are non-dairy alternatives like coconut whipped cream any better?

dog with background of whipped cream; can dogs eat whipped cream?
Credit: Magone / camptoloma / Getty

What's in Whipped Cream?

Before we can fully understand whether or not whipped cream is an OK treat for dogs, it's important to look at the ingredients. First off, whipped cream is, well, cream that's been "whipped" into its tasty, fluffy state. Sugar, vanilla, and other flavorings are added for taste.

Whipped toppings, like Cool Whip or Reddi-wip, include ingredients to preserve the sensitive cream longer than a trip from your kitchen to the kitchen table. But there shouldn't be anything necessarily toxic for dogs in these whipped toppings. The same goes for whipped toppings made from coconut, soy, or almonds, which are dairy-free alternatives to the dessert addition.

Can Whipped Cream Be Bad for Dogs?

While there is nothing inherently toxic to dogs in whipped cream, that doesn't mean whipped cream or other dairy products necessarily agree with your particular pooch.

"Some dogs tolerate whipped cream and other dairy products just fine," says Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian toxicologist who works with Pet Poison Helpline. "Other dogs, though, may develop vomiting, diarrhea, or gas."

That's right: Lactose intolerance is a thing in dogs, just like people. How do you know your dog is lactose intolerant? When you offer the dog enough whipped cream to upset their belly.

The biggest risks for dogs with whipped cream will be overdoing it. A regular dose of the fluffy stuff daily, or treats of any kind, can add too many calories to a well-balanced diet and put unhealthy extra pounds on your favorite pooch.

So, not a part of a balanced diet, but a little whipped cream is probably OK as an occasional treat.

How to Feed Whipped Cream to Your Dog Safely

If you'd like to have your pup join the fun on your next Starbucks run, start with giving them the equivalent of a spoonful of whipped cream, and see what they think (and how their tummies react). Let them enjoy a small bite, then switch to healthier alternatives. Human foods safe for dogs to eat are often the same food our own physicians want us to eat more: fresh fruits and vegetables (with some caveats). If you like sharing food with your dog, remember they're smaller and need fewer calories, and stick to the healthy stuff.

If your dog gets into a bigger portion of a dessert—stealing food out of an open fridge, off a kitchen counter, or knocked from the dining room table—the whipped cream is less of a risk than chocolate or grapes and raisins, which can be toxic even in small amounts. However, sugar-free whipped cream can contain the harmful sugar substitute xylitol, so stay away from that kind for sure.

If your dog is exhibiting signs of poisoning, call your veterinarian with information about what the dog got into and how much they consumed.

Can I Still Take My Dog to Starbucks for a Puppuccino?

Starbucks gives out free "Puppuccinos" to customers' dogs. Don't worry: There's no actual caffeine or coffee! These are paper cups with a little whipped cream inside. Some baristas may have added a little extra flavoring, which can come with even more calories.

A Starbucks Puppuccino is fine for a healthy dog ... in moderation. Don't make it a habit, says Rachel Hinder, RVT from Embrace Pet Insurance: "Remember, whipped cream is high in fat, and diets with too much fatty food have been shown to lead to pancreatitis in dogs."

"Dogs rarely need the extra calories," agrees Schmid.

If your dog loves treats, consider giving them something healthier like carrots or blueberries and keeping the calorie-rich treats a rare, special occurrence.