If there’s one thing any pet owner knows about tucking into a sweet treat, it’s that it’s almost impossible to do so alone.
Maybe it’s the nose that starts twitching and snuffling first, or maybe your dog’s ears flap back and forth a little as he or she realizes you’re eating something.
Either way, a curious pooch is sure to follow, and it’s always tempting to share. But can dogs eat caramel?
Is caramel good for dogs?
Definitely not. While caramel is not toxic to dogs, unless you’re handing it over covered in chocolate to your dog – definitely don’t do that! – it’s essentially little more than processed sugar.
And if experts recommend against feeding sugar to dogs, you might well correctly assume that they recommend against feeding your pet any kind of processed sugar all the more.
It’s easy to try and be optimistic when it comes to giving sweet treats for your dog. After all, dogs have such different ways of digesting their food, who knows – what if dogs could get some nutritional value from the likes of caramel?
No such luck, sadly – dogs suffer the same advice against caramel that their human masters do.
In fact, thanks to how small even the largest dogs are compared to human beings, and how sensitive their digestive systems are compared to their masters also, caramel can do more long term harm to a dog in a shorter space of time compared to us.
Dogs can and will eat caramel voluntarily and enjoy it, of course, but there is, unfortunately, no nutritional benefit in them doing so, any more than your doctor would recommend caramel to you.
Even in cases of low blood sugar, there are no reasons to be handing over caramel to your dog as a solution.
But of course, if he or she happens to get their chops on some caramel, your dog is not going to keel over unwell or the like.
This is more a question of handing over caramel regularly to your dog – as in, please don’t!
Dogs do not need to be eating anything high in sugar regularly, and this is especially true of those sugary foods that have gone through man-made procedures that, although enhancing the flavor, only boost the disadvantages to long term health in things like caramel too.
Certainly, be careful of what sweet treats you keep around your dog’s reach.
While caramel and toffee are always appealing, anything covered in chocolate that your dog might accidentally eat can prove toxic and nasty.
Likewise, a dog stealing a whole bag of caramel or gulping down caramel syrup is likely to get pretty poorly pretty fast.
Dangers of caramel for dogs
The one saving grace of all this is that, unless you are expressly giving your dog chocolate toffee or chocolate caramel sweets and candies, the health risks of giving caramel to your dog are more long term in nature.
But of course, unless you want your dog to have pretty complicated and uncomfortable elder years, that doesn’t necessarily make it right to give dogs caramel.
Many of the problems that arise from giving your dog caramel are the same issues that human beings would face from eating lots of sugary sweets over the course of a lifetime.
It doesn’t make for pleasant reading – problems can arise with the teeth, stomach, bloodstream and more.
Given how sticky caramel is, and how it can cloy around the mouth, tooth rot and tooth decay is certainly quite a big issue that can arise in dogs who eat caramel.
Dental hygiene in dogs is often quite a hassle to begin with, without having sticky, sugary snacks to contend with too.
More severe dental diseases can sometimes develop from these initial complications too, and dogs hate to lose their teeth just as much as human beings do.
It can impact their quality of life in their later years, especially if your dog is otherwise fond of eating tougher or more robust kinds of food he or she can really give their jaws a work out with.
Naturally, the risk of obesity is always heightened when giving your dog caramel, as the intensely high sugar content can really lead your pet to pile on the pounds.
More than just a more flabby belly, obesity and weight gain in dogs saps him or her of energy, and you’ll find your dog is far less inclined to want to run around and play. It can even lead to a little depression in your pet if it’s really bad.
And of course, tragically enough, obesity can often go hand in hand with diabetes, which dogs can suffer from just as readily as humans.
Monitoring your dog’s blood sugar day by day is a complex business, and your pet will find his or her quality of life diminished through such a horrid affliction.
How much caramel can a dog eat daily?
In short, handing over caramel to your dog day after day is probably a really bad idea.
While your pet is certainly going to be appreciative of so many sweet treats coming their way day after day, in the long term you’re inadvertently causing all kinds of nasty complications to his or her health and well being.
Definitely avoid giving caramel to your dog, but also don’t feel guilty if some caramel happens to go your dog’s way either through a spur of the moment flick of the wrist every so often, or if some caramel falls down from someone’s snack and your dog gobbles it up.
As long as your dog’s exposure to these kinds of processed sugars is kept as low as it can be, the risks of falling afoul of weight gain, tooth decay, and diabetes are far lower.
It’s worth noting that dogs can just as susceptible to sugar rush as the rest of us, and perhaps even can be more sensitive than us to these peaks and troughs because of their digestive systems.
A dog who eats caramel or any other kind of super high sugar treat could well become hyperactive and impossible to calm down for an hour or two, only to become exhausted and irate in short order.
As along as caramel is kept as a very rare and special treat for your dog – or better yet, swapped out for a more natural substitute like honey or fresh fruits like bananas – you will be fine. And so will your dog!
What to do if your dog eats caramel
It can be worrying, and even outright frightening, for responsible dog owners to stroll into a room in their house and find their faithful canine friends digging into all kinds of food they shouldn’t be.
Because you’ve learned so much about the long term health risks of dogs eating caramel, you may be that much more worried.
The first course of action is to distinguish what kinds of toffee or caramel candies your dog is eating.
In short, if they are chocolate coated and your dog has been gobbling down a bag’s worth, it’s best that you seek the advice of your vet before any risk of toxicity to your dog.
However, your dog could also be at risk of choking, especially if he or she is eating a lot of caramel very fast.
It’s sticky stuff that really tends to bind together and clog up the mouth, to say nothing of the airways and internal systems of your pet.
Beyond just choking, your dog might well struggle with caramel causing internal blockages that clog up the passageways to and from the stomach or intestines. Seek the help of your vet in cases like these.
Beyond that, brace yourself to look after a poorly pet who will experience a sugar rush and the mother of all crashes to follow – to say nothing of the stomach ache and a fair bit of grumpiness to boot.
It’s worth identifying how your dog got hold of this caramel and how to prevent it in the future, as this is not the kind of thing your pet ought to make a habit of.
While caramel doesn’t have any toxic risks to dogs unless it’s coated in chocolate or certain nuts, it’s basically little more than sugar, and that’s going to cause issues in your dog’s health overall if it’s left to build up over the long term.
There’s no risk of poisoning your dog with caramel, them, but no nutritional value to feeding any of it to him or her either.
Doing so only elevates the risk of obesity, diabetes and other ill effects later in your dog’s life. They’ll love the taste just as much as we human beings do, but don’t cave in to those puppy dog eyes!
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Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.