We know we shouldn’t feed our canine friends human food, but it’s just so hard to resist their begging. We stay strong and refrain from feeding them things we know is dangerous, like chocolate, but what about similar foods? Can dogs eat caramel or other sweets?

Unfortunately, unlike chocolate, the answer isn’t so cut and dry. Caramel interacts with your dog’s body in many different ways, so it’s important to learn how. This knowledge will help you understand the dangers better, and give you ideas for alternative sweet snacks.

Can Dogs Eat Caramel? Is It Toxic?

Short answer: No. Caramel is not toxic to dogs, and your furry friend can digest and process this food. If your dog ingests caramel, don’t panic. There is no need to induce vomiting or rush them to the vet. It will not have a chocolate-like effect on your dog. Technically speaking, dogs can eat caramel.

However! Here is where the good news ends. The above statement is meant to stop you from panicking and is not an endorsement to start feeding your fur baby a steady stream of sweet caramel goodness. Caramel can still have severely detrimental effects on your dog’s health and well-being. Both in the short term and the long run.

What’s So Bad About It

We like to think of our canine companions as like our children, and in some ways, they kind of are. They are dependent upon us, love playing and treats, and don’t judge us for our actions because they don’t understand how to adult. We often treat them like kids, and this should extend to their diets.

Caramel is sweet and delicious, but beyond that, it is terrible for you. It is mostly empty calories from raw sugar. Raw sugar is horrible for dogs. Just like with our human children, if you fill them up with heaps of sugar, their health and behavior will take a turn for the worse.

Short-Term Effects

Sugar similarly affects dogs as it does to kids, but it is amplified intensely. You think a child is bad during a sugar rush? Wait till you see a 100-pound dog with dilated pupils tearing up a home before passing out. It may seem funny to think about, but it isn’t something you want to deal with. Hyperactivity doesn’t help anyone, and may even lead to injury.

Your dog will go through a sustained period of restlessness, inability to concentrate and agitation before slipping into lethargy. This rapid change in chemical balances can and will affect their mood. Your dog may become irritable and moody, turning into a dog that you don’t recognize. However, your dog won’t remember the bad times, only the good ones when it was high on sugar. Sound familiar?

Dogs enjoy the rush they get from sugar, just like kids, but they don’t handle going without it nearly as well. Dogs do not understand addiction and will adjust their behavior to get more of what they think they need. You can’t explain to a dog why it shouldn’t have the thing it is addicted to. It may seem humorous to imagine a “junkie dog,” but the possibility is real, and it isn’t pretty.

Your dog may also experience immediate physiological problems as a result of ingesting too much sugar. Vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects of a sugar overdose, so monitor your pooch carefully. If you suspect your dog has eaten a large amount of sugar and is throwing up or getting rid of it out the other end, stop feeding it for 24 hours and take it to a vet if symptoms persist.

Long Term Effects

Now let’s take a look at even worse outcomes of too much raw sugar in a dog’s diet. As with children, too much sugar causes drastic declines in health and just like with the short-term effects, the health problems are amplified in dogs.

At first, it will be simple weight gain, which dogs are poorly equipped to deal with, unlike humans. After obesity, your furry friend will begin to develop dental problems. Cavities, root canals and missing teeth can plague your pooch and make its life a nightmare.

Dogs rely on their mouths for a great many things, so it isn’t just an annoyance or cosmetic issue like it is with us. They rely on their mouths and teeth to manipulate objects and defend themselves from threats. As far as I know, there aren’t any doggy dentures on the market (ones that work anyway), so it’s best to keep our canine’s canines in tip-top shape.

Later on down the line, after all that other stuff, your dog may develop diabetes if it consumes too much sugar regularly. Yes, doggy diabetes is a thing. No, it is not as cute as it sounds. It is exactly as awful as human diabetes, only in some ways it can be worse because they do not understand what has been done to them. As you can guess, diabetes creates a myriad of health problems for your pup, and will likely shorten its life significantly.

Are All Sweet Treats Bad for My Dog?

Pretty much, yes. Excessive sugar, regardless of source, is bad for your dog. So instead of asking can dogs eat caramel, you should ask if dogs can eat anything that’s very sweet. The answer is a resounding no. You may notice that some dog foods and treats contain caramel or other sweetened delicacies. Hopefully, these are in minuscule amounts for flavoring but if they aren’t, avoid those products. Sugar should not make up a significant portion of what a dog eats.

There are very few, if any, animals that can survive and thrive on nothing more than raw sugar. Humans, dogs, cats and every other animal that lives with us in our home should avoid ingesting empty calories and pancreas-pounding sugars.  So, we must leave out treats like ice cream, chocolate and caramel but fortunately, there are snacks out there that are better for your dog and still on the sweet side.

What Treats Can I Feed My Dog?

Besides the obvious answer of “doggy treats,” there are plenty of alternative snacks that you can give your pup, guilt-free. Let’s start with the basics. Lean meats like chicken, turkey or lean beef are an excellent choice, just make sure you cook them thoroughly. Sure, some dogs can eat raw meat, but if they aren’t used to it or bred for it, they might not have the resistances that their ancestors had. Better to be safe than sorry.

If you are trying to avoid too much meat, carbo-load your dog with pasta or rice. Make sure that the rice or pasta is cooked, of course, and serve it plain. Nuts are also a good option. Shelled peanuts and peanut butter, as well as cashews, can be a great source of energy. Remember to check peanut butter for added sugar, and only feed your dog unsalted nuts.

On the plant side of things, vegetables are an option, but not all of them. Avoid any plant that has tough stalks or seeds in them. These can cause severe digestive problems. Carrot, cucumber, lettuce and bell peppers will work if you chop them into manageable pieces and remove and seeds.

If you really want to give your dog something sweet, go with fruit. The sugar found in fruit is natural, and there is a lot less of it compared to caramel. Apples, bananas, oranges, watermelons and blueberries are all great if they sliced into portions and seedless. However, you should avoid grapes, raisins and avocados. They have certain compounds in them that can upset a dog’s stomach or worse.

Feeding a dog from your table is usually a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean that all human food is off limits. Research the food you want to feed your dog and go into it intending to feed them that food. It shouldn’t be a spontaneous thing, like succumbing to puppy dog eyes. Also, before feeding your canine companion any new food, give them a little bit to try out to see how they will react. You might think the food is safe but, like people, all dogs are unique, and yours might have an allergy or complication with that particular food.

Taking The Sweet out of the Treat

Sugary snacks are OK for humans every once in a while. We have relatively large bodies, and our omnivorous biology gives us an edge when eating all sorts of strange stuff. But your dog’s smaller body is not as accustomed to our food as much as we might hope.

Sweet and sugary treats like caramel may not be immediately hazardous to our dogs’ health, but excessive sugar can have drastically negative effects on their health. One year is seven dog years, so you can imagine what kind of damage a seemingly small amount of sugar eaten regularly can do. There are so many healthy and less detrimental snack to give to your furry friend, so there’s no excuse not to avoid caramel and other sugar-heavy foods.

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