Stevia is a popular and healthy sugar substitute, one of many that have popped up in the last few years. Stevia is used in a variety of ways for both humans and dogs and is a common ingredient in dog toothpaste and treats. But is stevia safe for dogs?
The short answer is yes, stevia is safe for dogs in moderation, which is why it is commonly used in some dog products. No studies are showing that it is in any way toxic to your pooch. In fact, stevia is considered to be relatively healthy for humans and dogs alike, but the key is moderation.
Below, we dig a little deeper into this sugar substitute to find out what exactly it is, the potential health benefits for your pooch, and of course, any potential health concerns that you need to be aware of.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from the plant, Stevia rebaudiana, which is native to Brazil and Paraguay. The active compounds that give the plant its sweetness, steviol glycosides, are said to be 30-150 times sweeter than sugar. Although it is sweeter than sugar, it does have a slightly bitter aftertaste that some people and dogs do not enjoy. The body does not metabolize these glucosides, so stevia has zero calories.
Stevia has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener, and in recent decades, it has become a popular, healthier alternative to sugar due to its lack of calories and abundant sweetness.
Potential Benefits of Stevia Over Other Sweeteners
Stevia offers irresistible sweetness without the calories, so it is a far superior option than some of the other sweeteners out there. Stevia is also all-natural and involves little processing, making it free from other preservatives or chemicals that can have potentially harmful side effects.
Refined sugar in any form will cause a blood sugar spike in your pooch, whereas stevia has a glycemic index score of zero, which won’t cause the same spikes. Sugar is high in calories and has a well-documented place in causing obesity and diabetes.
Some studies have documented that stevia may even offer more than just sweetness: it may have therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties and even protection against cancerous tumors.
There are several other sugar substitutes available that are non-toxic to dogs, including erythritol and monk fruit sweetener. However, xylitol, another popular artificial sweetener, is extremely toxic to dogs, and even small amounts can cause seizures and even lead to death, so it should be strictly avoided.
Moderation Is Key
While stevia is non-toxic for dogs, too much can cause gastrointestinal issues and diarrhea. How much is too much is a difficult question to answer, as it depends on your dog’s weight and energy levels. That said, stevia is not necessary for your dog’s diet and nutrition, so it shouldn’t really be given to them at all if you can avoid it.
Many dog treats and other products contain small amounts of stevia, and in this case, it won’t do any harm but should be given only occasionally. After all, there are tons of other delicious treats that your dog will love that contain no sweeteners at all.
While stevia is non-toxic for dogs and won’t do any more harm than an upset stomach, it doesn’t have any real beneficial properties either. If your dog does ingest a small amount of stevia, they’ll likely be perfectly fine, and many dog treats contain stevia in their ingredients. The key is moderation. There are a ton of other treats that are both healthy and tasty for your pooch without the need for sweetener, and we recommend opting for one of these healthier alternatives.
Featured Image: AmyLv, Shutterstock