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When we think of dogs, our minds automatically think of “carnivores.” We categorize dogs as meat-eaters, and they are. However, just like humans, dogs also have sweet teeth. They enjoy sweet foods. However, you have to be very careful when feeding your dogs anything sweet because certain ingredients in popular sweet foods can hurt or even kill them.
Is Sugar Good for Dogs?
This is a tricky question because there are different types of sugar, and some of them are definitely not good for your dog. Cubed sugar, granulated sugar, or any types of sweets made from these sugars are not healthy treats for your dog.
While one single sugar cookie made from granulated sugar isn’t likely to kill your dog, it still isn’t good for him, and feeding your dog an excess of these types of sugars can lead to a lot of different health problems, up to and including death.
Some of the most common health problems associated with feeding your dog sugar are cavities and/or rotten teeth, obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. Other, less-serious problems include bloodshot eyes, agitation, mood swings, and kidney or urinary problems.
Is Brown Sugar Bad for Dogs?
Brown sugar and white sugar are both sucrose; the difference between the two is that white sugar has been refined while brown sugar has not and is made with molasses. Brown sugar, which is often marketed as “natural sugar,” might sound like it’s better for your dog than refined sugar, but when it comes right down to it, sugar is sugar, whether refined or not.
So will brown sugar hurt a dog? Yes. In the long run, brown sugar can definitely hurt your dog, although feeding your dog a small bit of brown sugar won’t immediately hurt him or make him sick. Still, you shouldn’t do it. Brown sugar is not for dogs, and just like you can eat things that are bad for you and really love them, so can your dog.
If you feed him a sugary treat just once, he might love it and try to steal those same sugary treats anytime someone has them out. It’s best just not to get him started on sugary foods at all.
My Dog Ate Brown Sugar: Should I Panic?
Assuming your dog didn’t manage to eat a ten-pound bag of brown sugar, he’s probably going to be fine. The most pressing concern will be a stomach ache, which might also be accompanied by some vomiting and diarrhea. If these conditions are severe enough, this can lead to your dog becoming dehydrated, which is a bigger problem.
If your dog ingested a large amount of sugar – two cups or more – or if he throws up more than once, you’ll want to call your vet just to be on the safe side, but chances are unless your dog is especially sensitive to it, the stomach issues are probably your biggest worries. Dehydration, though, is a serious issue, so don’t take it lightly.
If you don’t take your dog to the vet, you’ll want to keep a very close eye on him for the next 48 hours. Extreme sensitivity to sugar can lead to inflammation of the pancreas, which is a severe issue. If your dog seems lethargic or vomits more than once, these could be symptoms of pancreatic inflammation.
Sweet Treats: Other Alternatives
Just because sugar is bad for your dog doesn’t mean your dog can’t have anything sweet. Consider fruit as a yummy, sweet, healthier alternative. Dogs do need a certain amount of sugar in their diets, but it needs to be healthy sugar from healthy sources.
Fruit is great for this. There are several fruits you can feed your dog; here are the best five.
Blueberries are great for dogs because they’re high in antioxidants, which help reduce disease and illness in your dog, especially those related to heart health. They’re also full of fiber, which helps the digestive tract, and Vitamin C, which is just a good all-around. You should never feed your dog the seeds from blueberries though, as they can cause serious damage.
Apple is also great for the digestive system. They’re also high in calcium and Vitamin C. Always remove the seeds and core before serving to your dog. It’s best to serve your dog slices as treats rather than a whole apple’s worth at one time. Apple skin is also a good remedy for constipation in dogs.
Because they’re mostly water, pears are low-calorie fruits that are also high in potassium and fiber. This is a great sweet snack for dogs with diabetes.
Bananas are great for promoting intestinal health; however, they should be served in moderation.
5. Peaches and/or Apricots
Always remove the skin and the pits from these fruits before serving them to your dog. Without these parts, these fruits are natural antioxidants that are also high in fiber.
Other good fruits for dogs include strawberries, watermelon, and most other melons. Remember to always research fruits before you feed them to your dog to be sure they are safe and to see how much you can safely feed your dog and how often.
Some fruits should absolutely never be fed to dogs because they’re extremely toxic to them. Some of these include grapes, plums, and peaches or apricots with the skins on and/or the pits still inside them.
Brown Sugar: Places You Might Find It
All the problems caused by sugar – obesity, diabetes, heart problems, etc. – are serious problems, and they can cause lasting grievous damage. That’s why it’s so important to keep your dog’s sugar intake as low as possible. However, that can be difficult because a lot of dog food and dog treat companies put sugar in their treats and food.
Dog food companies use sugar to mask some of the more bitter tastes in dog food; they also use it just as human food companies do – to get your dog addicted to their particular brand of food. If your dog is hooked on one specific brand of food and refuses to eat other brands you buy, you’re almost forced to buy the brand he’ll eat, bringing in more sales for that company.
It’s a devious, dangerous trick they’re pulling. Companies that make dog treats do the same thing for the same reason. That means you have to be extra vigilant about checking the ingredients on the food and treats you buy.
Recognizing Sugar Names in the Ingredients
When checking out the ingredients list on your dog’s food or treats, there are certain terms you can look for that will tell you there is sugar in the food. The first and most obvious of these is, of course, sugar. However, most of the time, sugars are not listed quite so bluntly.
Look for these terms as well:
- Corn Syrup
- Beet Pulp
If any of these are listed as an ingredient, it might be a red flag to you that you shouldn’t buy that particular brand of dog food or treat.
Xylitol & Beet Pulp
Xylitol is something that will never be found in dog food because it is extremely poisonous to dogs, and even a tiny amount will kill them. However, a lot of human diet foods contain xylitol because it cuts the sugar content in food down to less than half the normal amount. So if you’re on a diet, please be sure you keep your diet food far out of reach of your dogs.
As for beet pulp, we wanted to mention it specifically as well because beets sound like something healthy your dog should be able to eat; however, beet pulp is not the same thing as beets.
Beet pulp comes from a different type of beet, called a sugar beet, which is a specific type of beet from which sugar is extracted to make candy and other sweets. After the sugar is extracted, the leftover pulp is then sometimes used in dog food because it’s very fibrous.
However, it’s impossible for manufacturers to extract all the sugar from sugar beets, leaving the pulp with some sugar in it as well. The sugar, as already discussed, is bad for dogs, especially if ingested daily over long periods of time, so remember: Avoid beet pulp in dog food.
In conclusion, it’s okay if you want to give your doggy a little sweet treat every now and then. In fact, you should; our dogs make us feel so happy and loved, and if treating them with something yummy and sweet makes them feel the same way, we should all want to do it every now and then. Just be sure you’re giving them healthy sweets, such as berries, apples, peanut butter, or bananas, and avoid sugars of all kinds as much as possible.