Can Dogs Eat Sugar? Here's What Vets Say About It
Did you know that Americans, on average, consume 152 pounds of sugar per year? That would mean we consume 13.3 teaspoons of sugar each day, which is absolutely too much. However, it looks like sugar is in everything, and we’d have to invest a considerable amount of effort to avoid it. It can be pretty hard to avoid it, especially since it’s so - sweet. Naturally, many dog owners wonder, “Can dogs eat sugar?” Here’s what our vets have to say about it.
We started to wonder if sugar might be safe for dogs to consume. After all, some fruits are safe for dogs, and they contain natural sugars. We wanted to know the definitive answer, so we decided to talk to our team of vets and find out if sugar is safe for dogs. The answer can be pretty confusing, so this is how they explained it to us;
“Dogs need sugar because it is an energy source. However, they get their sugar from consuming carbs, which are then broken down to glucose (sugar) and used for energy.”
However, that type of sugar is not the same as what we can find in sweets and sodas. That type of sugar should be avoided, and you should never give it to your dog. That means the answer to the question, “Is sugar safe for dogs?” is - No.
If your dog accidentally licks some sugar you dropped, nothing bad’s going to happen. In fact, they’ll enjoy the sweet taste and might beg you for a bit more. Sugar will not cause toxicities or poison your dog, but if you constantly give sugary foods to your dog, it can lead to health issues. That means that sugar doesn’t pose an immediate threat, but it is terrible for your dog in the long term.
However, if your dog gets ahold of a full cup or container of sugar you keep at home, they are at risk of toxicities. The same goes for salt - if consumed in large amounts, it can poison your dog. This is considered a medical emergency, and you should contact your vet immediately.
Sugar can cause your dog to develop different health conditions that can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Keep in mind that your dog will get all the carbs (sugar) it needs by eating dog food. In fact, other than high-quality dog food, your dog’s diet doesn’t require much else. If you ignore your vet’s advice and you continue to feed sugar to your dog, here are some of the conditions your dog can develop;
One of the worst things you can give your dog is sugar-free candy. Candy wouldn’t be candy if it wasn’t sweet, so sugar-free candy manufacturers use something different to get the sweet taste without using sugar. In most cases, it’s xylitol. Most experienced dog owners know that xylitol is toxic to dogs. You should never ever give your dog anything that contains xylitol. That’s why you should always check the label of human foods you want to share with your dog. Some of the products that contain xylitol are toothpaste, peanut butter, and chewing gum.
Natural sugars are safe for dogs, but only if given in moderation. Fruits contain natural sugar, and that natural sugar is called fructose. It is safe for dogs, and they can use it as a fantastic additional energy boost. Plus, fruits are packed with healthy nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Not only will your dog satisfy its need for something sweet, but it will also get an additional boost from healthy nutrients contained in fruits. Keep in mind that not all fruit is safe for dogs. For example, grapes are highly toxic to dogs, and even the tiniest amount can lead to kidney failure.
VET TIP: While some fruits are safe and beneficial for dogs, you should still feed your dog moderate amounts. Treat fruits as dog treats. Make sure they don’t make more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.
If you are absolutely adamant about giving something sweet to your dog, you should make sure it’s safe and beneficial for them. If you can’t get both, at least make sure it’s safe. Luckily, there are other naturally sweet things you can include in your dog’s diet that might benefit your dog’s overall health. Here are some of the healthy sugar alternatives for dogs;
- Honey - Some types of honey even have antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties, so you can be sure your dog will benefit from it. However, make sure you feed honey in moderation.
- Fruit - We already mentioned dogs can reap all sorts of benefits from fruits. Plus, they are naturally sweet, thanks to fructose, which is safe for dogs.
- Maple syrup - Maple syrup is a natural substance safe for dogs to consume. It contains loads of zinc and manganese, which is excellent for your dog.
- Blackstrap molasses - Blackstrap molasses is a by-product of sugar. It contains all the beneficial nutrients but poses fewer risks.
Sugar is absolutely delicious, which is why we put it in everything. However, sweet foods should stay reserved for us. Our dogs don’t need additional sugar; all they need comes from their kibble. A tiny amount won’t poison your dog, but it can cause health problems in the long term. It is best to avoid giving sugar to dogs.
World Dog Finder team