The saying goes that bread always lands butter-side down, but it’s so much truer when there’s Nutella on your toast. Whether it’s the original hazelnut spread or a cheaper generic version from the supermarket, that gooey-chocolatey loveliness gets everywhere.
If you’ve ever smashed a jar or dropped freshly-spread toast, you likely had to fend off your dog from cleaning up the delicious mess for you. But if your dog did manage to eat some Nutella, we’ve got the solution.
Check the Label
The first thing to do if your dog eats something they shouldn’t is to check the label. You need to find out what the ingredients are and look for red flags. Cocoa, Xylitol (an artificial sweetener aka E967,) and macadamia nuts are all used in processed foods and all can be toxic to dogs. If you spot any of these on the label, it’s a good idea to call your local vet for advice as soon as possible. At the time of writing, Nutella contains a small amount of cocoa (6%) and no xylitol or macadamia – but this is subject to change, and non-branded spreads may use different ingredients.
Is Nutella Poisonous for Dogs?
The good news is that Nutella is usually safe for dogs to eat. Although it contains chocolate in the form of cocoa, and therefore theobromine, it’s a very tiny percentage of the ingredients. In fact, if you look at the list of ingredients in Nutella, cocoa comes quite a long way down the list. Nutella contains more sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, and skimmed milk than it does cocoa by weight. This means that the theobromine content is unlikely to harm a dog if they get a small amount. Although a small dog could theoretically eat enough to make them ill from the theobromine, the other ingredients will likely make them ill before they feel any adverse effects from the cocoa content. Currently, Nutella does not use Xylitol in their products, and neither do any of the similar chocolate or hazelnut spreads out there. But it’s possible one or all of them will add Xylitol in the future as a way of reducing the sugar content.
So, is Nutella Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Although the theobromine content is unlikely to harm your dog, that doesn’t mean chocolate spread can’t do them any harm. As we’ve seen, the chocolate spread has a huge amount of sugar and fats, which can trigger pancreatitis. The hazelnuts, although not toxic to dogs, can also cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is extremely painful and causes dogs to vomit and go off their food. Dogs usually need hospitalization for fluids to recover from pancreatitis. You should also be careful what the Nutella is on, or with. Nutella-covered brownies, for instance, are likely to have much more chocolate in it than the small amount in the spread.
Should I Feed Nutella to My Dog?
There is always a possibility that your dog could become ill after eating Nutella, and since it has no nutritional value it’s a high risk for little benefit. Nutella also has a high calorie count, with 100 calories in each tablespoon. With a 20-pound dog on average needing just 551 calories, 100 calories can be a large proportion of your dog’s daily allowance. Feeding foods like Nutella regularly is likely to cause your dog to become overweight.
My Dog Ate Some Nutella, What Should I Do?
Make sure your dog can’t get any more Nutella by separating them from the spill or removing any remaining Nutella. Then look at the label: check the ingredient list for Xylitol (E967) and nuts other than hazelnuts. If the ingredient list contains just sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, skimmed milk, and a small amount of cocoa, then your dog will probably be fine. They may develop some vomiting and diarrhea in response to the cocoa, the fat content, or the richness of the food, so keep a close eye on them and be prepared to take them out to the toilet if needed. The chances are good that you won’t see any signs, but even if you don’t notice any issues immediately you should watch them for 48 hours or so, and be prepared to call the vet if they become ill. If your dog continues to vomit or goes off his food, a vet visit may be helpful to rule out pancreatitis caused by the high-fat levels in the Nutella.
It’s not a good idea to feed your dog Nutella routinely; it’s fattening and has no vitamins or minerals that your dog might need. But if the toddler throws a Nutella-laden slice of bread from the highchair and your dog hoovers it up for you, it’s probably nothing to worry about; just check the label to be sure, and be on the lookout for signs of illness.
Featured Image: Janine, Flickr