Crackers make a quick, satisfying snack for humans, and they seem to be the perfect size for a doggie treat. You may have noticed your pup staring at you longingly as you eat your snack and wondered if it was safe to share.
But can dogs eat crackers? Are crackers safe for dogs to eat? What about crackers with healthy ingredients like seeds?
They may seem like a great snack for your pup, but there are some important things to consider before feeding your dog crackers. We’ll fill you in on everything you need to know.
Should Dogs Eat Crackers?
Dogs can eat crackers and not be immediately poisoned, but that doesn’t mean they should. For one thing, feeding dogs people food instead of the food specially formulated for them can have harmful effects.
According to Pet MD, dogs eating food made for people can cause all sorts of health problems like obesity, heart disease, joint and skeletal issues, and allergic reactions. Dog food has specific added vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to stay healthy. If you feed your dog snacks with no real nutritional value — like crackers — your pup might not eat enough of his own food. This can cause your dog’s overall health to suffer.
The opposite can also happen. Your dog might gobble up all the crackers you feed it and eat all of its dog food, too. The empty calories from the crackers along with the fat and calories from its food can cause weight gain. This is especially noticeable with small dogs, where gaining an extra pound or two has a big effect on their overall body mass.
One or two crackers every once in a while won’t hurt your dog or affect its diet. However, crackers don’t offer enough nutritional value to your dog to justify feeding them to it regularly.
Why Are Crackers Unhealthy for Dogs?
Crackers are made primarily from flour, which is a type of refined grain. Refined grains, unlike whole grains, have had most of their vitamins and minerals removed. This means flour doesn’t have any nutritional value for dogs.
Crackers also tend to be high in sodium. Compared to humans, dogs don’t need much sodium in their diets. They also don’t seek out salty flavors as we do. Since dog food is specially formulated to contain the correct amount of sodium dogs need, feeding them lots of salty crackers can be bad for them.
There is such a thing as too much salt in a dog’s blood. It’s called sodium ion poisoning, and it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, excessive thirst or urination, and sluggishness. If your dog shares a box of crackers with you, then it runs the risk of suffering from too much sodium.
Some crackers also contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as garlic and onion. Even garlic and onion powder can kill off your pup’s red blood cells, which causes anemia. Be sure to check the ingredients before letting your dog have any crackers that might contain garlic or onion.
What About Unsalted Crackers?
Unsalted crackers may seem like a good way around the too-much-sodium problem, but even they don’t make a good treat. They’re still made from flour, which doesn’t offer any nutritional value for dogs. They also have a moderate number of calories, so they can cause weight gain if you feed your pup too many crackers too often.
What About Crackers with Seeds?
Not all crackers are made the same, and some contain different types of seeds. Dogs can benefit from seeds in their diet. Many commercial dog foods add flaxseed because it’s a good source of fiber and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Amaranth and quinoa are two ancient grains that are healthy for dogs. Amaranth contains all nine amino acids, which makes it a complete protein source for dogs. Quinoa, however, should not be given to any dog that has arthritis or kidney problems. This is because quinoa is high in oxalates, which can make those conditions worse.
If you enjoy keto-friendly crackers with chia seeds, these are another type of seed that is good for dogs. Chia seeds boost the immune system and are high in anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp seeds are another type of seed that provides immune system support and is good for dogs.
Sesame seeds are a common seed added to crackers. They increase vitamin E in dogs, which is great for their skin and coats.
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds both have antioxidants and are good for dogs. Pumpkin seeds are especially high in zinc, which plays a role in your dog’s healthy immune system. If you have a dog with liver problems, though, sunflower seeds should be avoided.
Even good, healthy foods like seeds can be problematic if you’re feeding them to your dog too much. Seeds have some great health benefits, but they can’t take the place of the balanced nutrition of high-quality pet food. Be sure to feed even healthy, seeded crackers sparingly.
What About Graham Crackers and Other Sweet Crackers?
Dogs, like people, can have a sweet tooth. Graham crackers and other sweet crackers are high in carbohydrates and sugar, which may appeal to your dog. However, these types of crackers aren’t good for them.
Sugar can cause all the same problems in dogs as it does in humans. Aside from an upset stomach, it can make their blood sugar irregular, cause dental problems, weight gain, and diabetes.
In addition to the sugar, graham crackers and others like them contain too much sodium for dogs. The best thing to do is just to avoid feeding these types of crackers to your dog.
Crackers are fine as an occasional treat for your dog as long as they don’t contain onions, garlic, or lots of sugar. You shouldn’t feed your dog too many crackers or feed them regularly because they don’t have any nutritional value for your dog. The sodium content in crackers can also be harmful to dogs, so feeding only one or two at a time is best.
Featured Image: LEEROY Agency from Pixabay