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Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.
Pet Care. Pet Training. Pet Stories.

Can Dogs Eat Sugar?

05/21/2018 by Colleen Williams
May 21st, 2018 by Colleen Williams

Key Takeaways

  • Granulated sugar is not good for dogs, and may put them at risk of weight gain, diabetes, and cavities. 
  • Natural sugar from fruit is safe in moderation. 
  • Hyperactivity, depression, agitation, and urinary tract/kidney infections can result from a high-sugar diet.
  • Sugar-substitute Xylitol and chocolate are very dangerous for dogs.

Basically, dogs need sugar in the form of carbohydrates just like humans, but do not feed your dog granulated sugar, and try to avoid sweets.

Natural sugar from fruit, called fructose, is safe for your dog (please note, however, that not all fruits are safe; grapes are toxic). Granulated sugar on the other hand, is not healthy for your dog, whether that is in the form of a cube or a cookie. Dogs that eat a lot of granulated sugar are at risk for cavities, weight gain, metabolic conditions, and diabetes. Each condition comes tethered to a host of other issues – excess weight can lead to arthritis, cavities can lead to painful oral infections, and diabetes can lead to heart complications. So, it is probably best to skip the sugar!

“Dogs need sugar of some sort. They need carbohydrates [which are broken down into sugar or glucose by the body] to live and operate. We just don’t need to be giving them candy since there’s no real added value,” says John Faught, DVM and medical director of the Firehouse Animal Health Center in Austin, Texas, to PetMD. “Excessive amounts cause inflammation all throughout the body, and it’s just not necessary.”

There are other short-term symptoms that go along with a diet high in sugar. Watch for these symptoms of high blood sugar:

  • Highs and lows – a streak of hyperactivity followed by depression
  • Agitation
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Urinary tract or kidney infection
  • Weight gain

In addition to sugar, there are two important “sweets” that are absolutely off limits to dogs. If you don’t already know about the hazards of xylitol and chocolate, familiarize yourself with the symptoms and check your ingredient labels. You will definitely want to make sure both products are far from paw’s reach:

  • Xylitol: Many candies, gums, toothpastes, sugar-free baked goods, and diet foods are actually sweetened with xylitol. Ingestion can cause a dog’s blood sugar to drop which can lead to liver failure. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, wonky coordination, and even seizures. If you suspect xylitol poisoning, take your pet to the vet immediately.
  • Chocolate: Most pet parents are well aware that chocolate is bad for dogs. The most dangerous types of chocolate include dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate, due to higher levels of theobromine. Chocolate can cause a dog to vomit and have diarrhea, and in more severe cases, it can lead to heart problems, tremors, seizures, and death.

Want to find out more about what dogs can and cannot eat? Check out our comprehensive guide for more information on “What Human Foods Dogs Can and Can Not Eat.”