Can Dogs Eat Sugar?

Victoria Lynn Arnold
By Victoria Lynn Arnold
Published: November 28, 2022
Can Dogs Eat Sugar?

NOTE: Always check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any new foods, especially “people foods.” What might be OK for one dog might not be good for your dog, depending on multiple factors such as their age, health history, health conditions, and diet. Dogs on prescription diets should not be fed any food or treats outside the diet.

We all know that sugary foods aren’t healthy for us, but we can still overdo it and suffer the consequences. If sugar is bad for us, how bad is it for dogs?

Surely, there must be a difference between giving your dog some fruit that has natural sugars and them sneaking several cupcakes from the counter.

Let’s take a look at the ways sugar can affect dogs and when you should be concerned.

Is Sugar Bad for Dogs?

Yes, sugar is bad for dogs. It’s not toxic to them, but it is very unhealthy in larger amounts.

If your dog gets ahold of a tiny bit of a sugary snack or you give them the occasional dog-safe fruit, it shouldn’t hurt them. 

But eating a lot of sugar or many sugary treats over a long period of time may cause numerous health issues for your dog, like upset stomach, obesity, metabolic changes, and diabetes. In more severe cases, your dog could even end up with pancreatitis.

Your dog could also experience toxicity if they eat something containing chocolate or xylitol, because these are both poisonous to dogs. 

Dogs can safely eat numerous fruits that contain naturally occurring sugar. This is usually fine for dogs if they are consumed in moderation. 

Any treat should only make up 10% of your dog’s overall diet. The other 90% should come from a well-balanced dog food diet. You can mix up your dog’s treats with some dog-safe vegetables, too. 

Can Dogs Have Other Sugars and Sugar Substitutes?

Stay away from all forms of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Although a little bit of sugar here and there isn’t toxic for your dog, it will cause health issues if they continue to eat sugar repeatedly over time. This includes all forms of sugar:

  • Brown sugar 

  • Powdered sugar

  • Processed sugar

  • Cane sugar 

However, xylitol is very poisonous to dogs. If your dog eats even a little bit of xylitol, or some candy or gum with xylitol in it, contact your veterinarian right away. 

Most other sugar substitutes aren’t poisonous to dogs, but they aren’t healthy to feed your dog either.

Can Dogs Eat Candy and Lollipops?

It’s important to keep an eye on your candy stash to make sure your pup doesn’t get into it. Dogs should never be allowed to eat candy or lollipops. That’s not just because of the sugar;  there could be toxic ingredients in the candy such as xylitol, chocolate, raisins, or nutmeg

Is Corn Syrup Bad for Dogs?

Corn syrup isn’t toxic to dogs, but it does have a high sugar content and is very unhealthy for them, especially when eaten repeatedly over time. This can cause obesity and diabetes. 

What About Sugar Water for Dogs and Puppies?

You may have heard people suggest sugar water for hypoglycemia in dogs and puppies. However, this isn’t a treatment recommended by veterinarians; instead, they might recommend a high-protein meal. 

Do Dogs Like Sweets?

If you’ve ever wondered whether dogs have taste buds or if they can taste sweet things, the answer is yes! Dogs actually have far fewer taste buds than we do. They have 1,700 and we have about 9,000. But they still have the same taste receptors as we do: spicy, sweet, bitter, sour, and salty. 

Dogs will often avoid things that taste too bitter or sour, but many enjoy the taste of sweetness. That could be why so many dogs love fruits and veggies. It also may be why they’ll come sniffing around if you’re eating cookies or candy. 

How Much Sugar Can a Dog Have?

If your dog is only eating sugar through dog-safe fruits, just make sure they don’t make up more than 10% of their overall diet. And try to mix it up with some veggies, since they don’t contain as much sugar as fruit. 

However, if your dog has eaten plain sugar, a sugary treat, or candy, they could experience an upset stomach, gas, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea—sometimes explosive or bloody diarrhea—depending on the amount consumed. So avoid giving your dog these other forms of sugar.

What to Do if Your Dog Has Eaten Sugar or Candy

If your dog has eaten a lot of sugar or candy, or anything containing xylitol, contact your veterinarian immediately. Too much sugar can greatly harm your dog's stomach or pancreas. And xylitol and certain other candy ingredients are toxic to dogs. Your pup will need to be treated by your veterinarian right away. 

References

  1. Diabetes in Pets. American Veterinary Medical Association.

Featured Image: iStock/chuckcollier


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