In April 2022, a rumor spread among pet owners online that McDonald's added xylitol, a sugar substitute dangerous to dogs, to its ice cream. Xylitol is a natural sweetener often used as a replacement for sugar in sugar-free foods.
The rumor has continued to occasionally spring up online since then, and VERIFY reader Lou emailed the team to ask if it was true.
Does McDonald’s ice cream contain xylitol, a sugar substitute dangerous to dogs?
No, McDonald’s ice cream does not contain xylitol. There are other reasons, however, why you might not want to feed your dog ice cream.
WHAT WE FOUND
A McDonald’s spokesperson confirmed to VERIFY that its ice cream does not contain xylitol. The ingredients listed online for the fast food restaurant’s vanilla cone does not list xylitol in either the ice cream or the cone. Sugar, for which xylitol is used as a replacement, is listed in the ingredients for both items.
According to the nonprofit International Food Information Council, xylitol is a sweetener that is naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables. For people, xylitol is better for oral health than sugar, and is also safer for people with diabetes than sugar. It’s often used in toothpaste, chewing gums and sugar-free foods.
But dogs absorb xylitol into their bloodstream quicker than humans do, the Food and Drug Administration says, and that can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar that is potentially fatal.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says dogs who eat xylitol often vomit, become lethargic or weak, and can sometimes have seizures. Additionally, it can cause liver damage for dogs.
While McDonald’s ice cream doesn’t have xylitol in it, you might not want to feed ice cream to your dog anyway. The American Kennel Club says many adult dogs are lactose intolerant to varying degrees or have allergies to proteins in milk or dairy products.
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