Plain custard made with milk, eggs, cream and sugar is generally safe for dogs to eat in small amounts as an occasional treat. However, custard recipes containing chocolate, xylitol, raw eggs, or grapes should be avoided.
What is Custard?
Custard is a thick, creamy dessert made with milk, cream, or both, and eggs. It can be sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla, chocolate, or fruit purees. Baked custards are thickened with eggs, while no-bake custards like pastry cream may use corn starch or gelatin for thickening. Some key ingredients in custard recipes include:
- Milk – Whole milk provides creaminess, while low-fat milk makes a lighter custard.
- Eggs – Eggs thicken and enrich the custard. Egg yolks also provide color.
- Sugar – Granulated white sugar or other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
- Flavorings – Vanilla, cocoa powder, fruit purees, etc.
- Starch – Corn starch or flour used for thickening (in some recipes).
- Cream – Heavy cream or half-and-half adds richness.
Common types of custard include:
- Crème brûlée – Baked egg custard with burnt caramelized sugar on top.
- Crème caramel or flan – Baked egg custard with caramel sauce.
- Pastry cream – Thick custard used to fill pastries like éclairs.
- Pots de crème – Small ramekins of baked chocolate custard.
- Quiche – Savory baked custard with bacon, cheese, veggies.
- Rice pudding – Creamy rice cooked in spiced milk.
- Ice cream – Creamy frozen custard churned while freezing.
- Zabaglione – Foamy Italian custard made with wine.
Now that you know exactly what custard is, let’s look at whether it’s safe and healthy for dogs to eat.
Are Custards Safe for Dogs?
Most basic custard recipes using just eggs, milk, cream, and sugar are safe for dogs to eat in small amounts as an occasional treat. However, there are a few ingredients that make certain custards unsafe for dogs:
Chocolate contains toxic theobromine and caffeine that dogs cannot metabolize. This makes chocolate custards like chocolate pudding or pots de crème dangerous for dogs. Even small amounts could cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, tremors, and seizures.
Some recipes use the sugar substitute xylitol to reduce calories. However, xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even tiny amounts can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar and liver failure. Always check ingredients before feeding custard.
Raw or undercooked eggs can contain salmonella bacteria that may sicken dogs. Cooked egg custards are safer.
Grapes and raisins, even in small amounts, can cause kidney failure in dogs. Raisins are sometimes added to rice pudding.
Onions contain compounds that can damage dogs’ red blood cells. Onions should not be added to savory custards like quiche.
As long as you avoid chocolate, xylitol, raw eggs, grapes, raisins, and onions, basic custard made with milk, cream, eggs, and sugar is generally fine for dogs in moderation. It’s also a good idea to cool custard completely before serving to prevent burns.
Nutritional Value of Custard for Dogs
Custard can offer some nutritional value when served occasionally in small portions. Here are some of the nutrients found in custard:
- Protein – Eggs provide high-quality protein to support muscle growth and maintenance.
- Fat – Cream and milk provide concentrated sources of fat and calories. In moderation, this can help underweight dogs gain weight.
- Vitamins – Milk is fortified with vitamin D for strong bones. Eggs provide vitamin A for healthy vision and coat.
- Minerals – Dairy products contain calcium for bone health and phosphorus for energy.
- Water – Custard’s liquid base helps keep dogs hydrated.
However, custard is still primarily sugar and fat. It lacks the nutritional balance of a complete meal. The eggs may also be overly rich for some dogs. So custard should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s diet. It’s best served as an occasional treat in small amounts.
How Much Custard Can Dogs Eat?
When served occasionally as a treat, most healthy dogs can safely eat 1-2 tablespoons of plain custard made with eggs, milk, and cream. Very small dogs under 5 lbs can have 1 teaspoon. Large dogs over 50 lbs can have up to 1/4 cup.
However, custard should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake to avoid excess sugar and fat. Too much can lead to obesity and other health issues over time. It’s also easy to overfeed custard because of its soft texture. Stop feeding if your dog develops loose stools or diarrhea after eating custard.
Here are some general custard feeding guidelines based on your dog’s size:
- Tiny dogs (under 5 lbs) – 1 teaspoon
- Small dogs (5-10 lbs) – 1 tablespoon
- Medium dogs (20-50 lbs) – 2 tablespoons
- Large dogs (50-100 lbs) – 1/4 cup
- Giant breeds (over 100 lbs) – 1/3 cup
When trying custard for the first time, start with just a teaspoon for small dogs or tablespoon for larger dogs. Monitor for any intestinal upset. If they tolerate it well, you can gradually increase portion sizes over time. But don’t make custard a regular part of their diet.
How to Serve Custard to Dogs
Here are some tips for serving custard safely and minimizing mess:
- Cool completely before serving to avoid burns. Refrigerate until chilled.
- Scoop into a shallow bowl to prevent gulping large mouthfuls too quickly.
- Choose simple flavors like vanilla or caramel over chocolate or fruit purees.
- Avoid adding toppers like nuts or chocolate that may cause choking.
- Serve small spoonfuls by hand instead of placing the entire bowl down.
- Feed away from carpets, furniture, or clothing to avoid stains.
- Use a bib, especially for young puppies or messy eaters. The soft texture can get everywhere!
- Brush or wipe your dog’s face after eating to prevent sticky messes.
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly and discard within 2-3 days.
- Adjust portion sizes gradually to identify your dog’s custard tolerance.
- Stop immediately if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of stomach upset.
With some precautions, most dogs can enjoy an occasional spoonful of plain vanilla or caramel custard as a sweet treat alongside their regular diet. Just be sure to account for the extra calories by subtracting a bit from their normal meal on days when custard is served.
Homemade Dog-Friendly Custard Recipes
Want to whip up a batch of doggy custard at home? Here are a couple easy recipes:
Simple Vanilla Custard
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Whisk milk, cornstarch, egg yolks, and sugar in a saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 10 minutes).
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Let cool completely before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.
- Pour into a greased ramekin.
- Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes until set.
- Let cool before serving.
These recipes use wholesome ingredients that are safe for dogs. For extra nutrition, try blending cooked oatmeal, wheat germ, or a spoonful of plain yogurt into the custard before baking or chilling.
In just a few simple steps, you can whip up a yummy homemade custard for your dog to enjoy. Be sure to cool completely before serving. Refrigerate and serve within 2-3 days. Adjust recipes based on your dog’s size, only offering a spoonful or two at a time.
Should Dogs Have Custard Regularly?
While the occasional small serving of plain custard is fine for most healthy dogs, it shouldn’t become a regular part of their diet. Here’s why custard is best reserved just for special treats:
- High in sugar – Too much can lead to obesity, diabetes, and dental issues.
- Low in nutrients – Doesn’t provide complete, balanced nutrition.
- High in fat – Can cause pancreatitis in prone dogs.
- May cause GI upset – Rich ingredients may cause loose stools or diarrhea.
- Easy to overfeed – Soft texture makes it easy to give too much.
- Can trigger food allergies or sensitivities – Especially to dairy or eggs.
- Can be unsafe if ingredients unknown – Such as xylitol, chocolate, grapes.
It’s very difficult to ensure proper nutrition and calorie control when feeding custard regularly. Special treats are best kept for special occasions like birthdays or holidays. For healthy day-to-day nutrition, stick with a complete and balanced commercial or homemade dog food.
Signs of Custard Overdose or Allergy
Most dogs enjoy custard in moderation with no issues. But some dogs, especially smaller breeds, may be sensitive. Here are some signs of custard overdose or allergies:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Gas or abdominal pain
- Itchy skin, hives, wheezing
- Increased body temperature
- Lethargy or weakness
If you notice any of these symptoms after feeding custard, stop giving it immediately. Withhold food for a few hours then slowly reintroduce bland foods like rice and chicken. Call your vet if symptoms persist or you have any concerns.
Keep a close eye on your dog for the first several hours after trying custard. Some dogs have delayed reactions. If symptoms happen immediately or get progressively worse, seek veterinary advice right away.
Can Dogs Have Custard?
In conclusion, plain custard made with just eggs, milk, cream and sugar can be safely fed to dogs in small amounts as an occasional treat. But chocolate, xylitol, raw eggs, grapes, raisins, and onions should always be avoided. Cool custard completely before serving. Adjust portion sizes based on your dog’s size and tolerance.
While custard should not make up a significant portion of their diet, the occasional spoonful provides a delicious way to show your dog some extra love and joy! Just be sure to watch for any signs of intestinal upset or allergic reaction. Check ingredients carefully and practice moderation to keep custard an exciting part of special occasions.