With Halloween just around the corner, caramel candy and caramel popcorn is all the rage, especially as Christmas approaches too! With all the holiday festivities and sweet treats, you plan on stocking your fridge and pantry with all the festive treats you can think of!
As you’re making caramel apples in the kitchen for family and friends, your dog may be begging for a taste. After all, dogs are the best kitchen assistants! But can dogs eat caramel, or is it toxic for them? And what about healthy caramel treats – can dogs eat caramel rice cakes? We take a look at the pros and cons of letting your dog eat caramel.
What is caramel?
Caramel is essentially cooked or burnt sugar, which is what makes it a beloved candy for so many. Caramel is created when sugar is heated in a pan to 340 degrees fahrenheit.
As the sugar slowly heats up to the temperature, the sugar molecules break down and form a rich, dark color with a gooey texture. This process is called ‘caramelization’ and gives the sugar its delicious flavor. Caramelization can be applied to any kind of sugar.
Can dogs eat caramel?
While caramel isn’t toxic to dogs like chocolate, it’s still not a safe food to feed them. It can cause health issues like diarrhea and vomiting, and more dangerous problems that can affect their pancreas, blood sugar, and teeth.
.Here’s everything you need to know about your dog eating caramel.
Can dogs eat caramel popcorn?
You should not give your dog caramel popcorn. Not only is it coated in sugary caramel, but “sugar free” caramel popcorn can also contain xylitol, which is highly poisonous for your pet.
Many dogs are sensitive to sugar, so even a few pieces of caramel popcorn can make your dog feel sick. If you notice any symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea after your dog eats caramel popcorn, call your vet for advice.
While popcorn itself isn’t bad for your dog, all the additional oils, fats, salt and sugar can cause stomach upsets for your pet. If you must feed them popcorn, make sure it’s all natural, air-popped corn, and only give it to them as a treat occasionally.
Can dogs eat caramel syrup?
Caramel syrup is made from raw sugar, which can affect your furry friend in a bad way. A lick of caramel syrup is okay if you must give them a taste, but sugary treats like this can cause obesity and diabetes.
Can dogs eat caramel ice cream?
In general, dogs should not eat ice cream of any kind, as it has too much salt and is high in fat and excessive sugar. But caramel ice cream contains extra swirls of sugar which can give your dog a sugar rush, and these empty calories can also harm your dog’s teeth and cause a stomach upset.
Can dogs eat caramel apples?
Dogs should never eat caramel apples because they contain lots of sugar. When your dog eats too much sugar, it can spike their insulin levels which is unsafe for your pet. In addition, whole caramel apples contain apple seeds which are toxic to dogs.
Can dogs eat caramel rice cakes?
No, dogs should not eat caramel rice cakes. There’s no nutrional benefit for your pup, and these rice cakes are high in sugar and salt that can damage your dog’s health.
Caramel is high in antioxidants
Did you know the daily average ingestion of caramel can yield a similar antioxidant content to a glass of fruit juice?! Although this is a fascinating fact, caramel still has too much sugar for the antioxidant effects to be benefical to our dogs (or us!), so you should keep your dogs away from it.
Is caramel toxic to dogs?
Caramel isn’t toxic for dogs in the way that chocolate is, but it has no nutriotional benefits for them.
If your dog eats sugary food like caramel they may become hyperactive and (much like us) have a sugar crash which makes them grumpy and irritable afterwards.
Symptoms your dog might experience after eating caramel:
- Hyperactive behavior
How much caramel can dogs eat?
Ideally you shouldn’t feed your dog any caramel. A little taste won’t harm them, but if they eat too much it can cause gastrointestinal upsets.
Caramel risks for dogs (and for you!)
Caramel is essentially pure sugar, and while it’s a delicious treat to have occasionally, one piece of caramel candy can contain around 6.6 grams of sugar, which is about 1.5 teaspoons.
If a human eats a whole packet of caramels (say 7 pieces) this works out to be 46.5 grams of sugar, which is over 10 teaspoons.
A drizzle of caramel topping over your ice cream contains around 27 grams of sugar – almost 7 teaspoons. This much sugar isn’t good for you – and it’s definitely not good for your dog.
Sugar eaten in large quantities like this can spike your blood sugar (and your dog’s). It can raise the risk of heart disease, and is a prime cause of health problems like obesity, dental disease, and diabetes if your dog eats too many sweets.
Can Caramel Kill Dogs?
If your dog eats a small amount of caramel, it won’t kill them. However, if you purchase store bought caramel, especially if it’s low sugar or “sugar free” this might mean it contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener which can kill your dog.
Always read the label on commercial caramel products in case xylitol is present, and never feed this type of caramel to your pet.
Sweet dog treats that are better than caramel for your dog’s diet
Here is a comprehensive list of sweet and safe human food substitutes for your canine companion to eat that you can safely include as part of their healthy diet:
Peanut butter. Peanut butter is a perfectly healthy treat for your dog when consumed in moderation. Peanut butter is high in fat, so keep their consumption limited.
Blueberries. Blueberries are antioxidant rich and entirely beneficial for your dog. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and can satisfy your dog’s sweet tooth!
Pineapple. Pineapple, another antioxidant rich fruit, is great in small amounts for your dog.
Watermelon. Watermelon is perfectly safe for your dog to eat as long as they don’t eat the rind or seeds, as these can pose a choking hazard.
Blackberries. Blackberries are another safe and great sweet treat for your dog. Antioxidant rich, blackberries are low in calories and provide a great source of fiber.
Apples. Apples are another great fruit for your dog! As long as they’re sliced and your dog doesn’t eat the core, stem, or seeds, these can be fed to your dog freely. They’re a great source of fiber.
Coconut. Coconut meat and oil have been long touted for their ability to help a dog’s skin and coat health. Since it is a higher calorie food, it’s best consumed in moderation.
Mango. Dogs can safely consume mango on an occasional basis. Since it is a fruit high in sugar, it’s best consumed in moderation as well. As long as you forgo the seeds, skin, and pit, it’s a perfect nutrient dense treat!
Bananas. Bananas are rich in potassium, fiber, and essential nutrients. You can feed your dog banana by mashing it up or in small slices to prevent choking.
Strawberries. Another great low calorie and antioxidant rich option, strawberries are a wonderful option for dogs. Be sure to cut them up before feeding them to your dog.
Oranges. High in vitamin C, oranges can be consumed in moderation, as excess consumption can lead to an upset stomach.
What to do if your dog eats caramel?
First – don’t panic! Caramel is not toxic, so if your dog ate caramel, it’s not as bad as chocolate poisoning – and it’s not life threatening.
Simply watch your dog for any symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting. Chances are your dog will probably just go mental for a bit, then crash and sleep off their sugar high.
On rare occasions, dogs can go into hypoglycemic shock (sugar overdose) after consuming too much sugar.
These symptoms include:
- loss of appetite
- increased hunger
- blurred vision
- difficulty concentrating
- loss of consciousness
- tremors or shivering
- heart palpitations
If you observe these symptoms in your dog for more than a few hours, call your vet immediately or take them to your nearest 24 hour emergency veterinary hospital.
In summary – can dogs eat caramel?
All in all, it’s best to keep your dog away from caramel candy, caramel, popcorn, caramel apples, caramel sauce, and commercial caramel that contains artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Caramel treats have too many calories for your furry friend, and even a little caramel treat can harm their well being.
Keep candy and high sugar foods in a safe area where your dog can’t get to it, like a pantry or the fridge. While we love caramel, and our dogs might too, it’s bad for dogs bodies, and it’s one sweet treat that we should keep out of their dog bowls!