Although dogs can eat brown sugar in small quantities without adverse effects, sugar in general is not good for dogs and should be limited or avoided entirely. Excess sugar (including brown sugar) will lead to obesity, tooth decay, an upset stomach, and possibly diabetes.
Although many people assume that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar, it’s actually just as processed and unhealthy as white sugar but has molasses added to give it the brown color.
Harmful Effects of Sugar on Dogs
The dangers of high sugar diets in dogs include some of the following.
Dogs can have a sweet tooth just like humans and many other animals, such as deer, cows, and rabbits.
But just because we crave something doesn’t mean it’s good for us, and dogs who eat a lot of sugar can become obese. This can lead to a host of other disorders, such as heart disease, diabetes, and an overall shortened lifespan.
It’s well documented that human tooth decay and dental diseases markedly increased in Victorian times when sugar began to be regularly imported into Europe. Even with modern oral hygiene, sugar is just plain bad for your teeth.
Well, your dog’s teeth are no different, and chances are, his teeth aren’t brushed twice a day. This means that the sugar just sits there on his teeth, leading to cavities, tooth rot, and gingivitis.
To keep your dog’s smile in good shape, offer him treats that are low in sugar.
Overweight dogs have higher chances of becoming diabetic, which is when the body cannot process blood sugar effectively.
Blood sugar spikes are common in diabetic dogs, leading to blindness, organ damage, and even death.
Just like a little kid who’s gotten into the Halloween candy, a dog that’s gotten into too much sugar can suffer from a terrible upset stomach.
This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, which is no fun for anyone.
Alternatives to Brown Sugar
If you’re looking to treat your dog, there are plenty of foods that are perfectly safe for them.
Peanut butter is an old go-to for dog owners when they need to distract or bribe their dog.
Dogs love the taste, and the consistency forces the dog to slow down to lick it off something, making it last a while.
Just make sure the peanut butter doesn’t contain any toxic artificial sweeteners.
Cheese is another staple of many dog owners, especially those who have to regularly medicate their dogs.
A small chunk of cheese is the perfect place to hide a pill so that your dog actually takes it without spitting it out.
As with most things, don’t over-do it on the cheese with your dog, as too much can lead to obesity and high cholesterol.
Scrambled eggs are a great occasional treat for a dog and contain lots of healthy protein. However, they’re also high in cholesterol, so moderation is key.
Plain canned or cooked pumpkin is good for dogs with upset stomachs, and fortunately, most dogs love it.
Pumpkin is high in fiber and potassium, making it a healthy treat for your dog.
Liver is full of nutrients like protein, iron, and zinc, making it a popular choice for many dog treats and foods.
You can use it in a homemade dog treat recipe or serve it as-is, and your dog will go crazy for it.
Carrots are a surprisingly wonderful treat for dogs, many of whom love them. They’re high in vitamins, and their crunch satisfies dogs’ need to chew.
Carrots are pretty in sugar, so avoid giving them to diabetic dogs unless your vet says it’s okay.
Other Foods Dangerous to Dogs
Brown sugar isn’t the only food that dogs should avoid. Below is a list of common foods that are toxic to dogs.
Chocolate can be deadly to dogs because the methylxanthines don’t break down for dogs the same way they do for us.
Dark chocolate contains more caffeine and methylxanthines, and so is more toxic to dogs than white or milk chocolate (although those aren’t good for them either).
Signs of toxicity in dogs due to chocolate are:
- upset stomach
- excessive thirst
- muscle rigidity
- cardiac failure
Be extra careful about keeping chocolate away from your dog to prevent accidental poisoning.
And remember, small dogs can be poisoned by much smaller amounts of a substance than larger dogs.
It’s also worth noting that all substances with caffeine contain the toxic methylxanthines, so keep coffee and tea out of your dog’s reach, too.
Alcohol is technically a poison, and it should go without saying that it shouldn’t be given to animals. But some people don’t think about things like medications and certain bread doughs that contain alcohol.
Even the smallest amount of alcohol can poison a dog, leading to organ failure and even death.
All parts of the onion plant are toxic to dogs, whether raw, cooked, or powdered.
According to the American Kennel Society, it only takes one onion to seriously harm a 45 lb dog. While your dog’s not likely to eat a whole raw onion, many foods contain onions, and if he gets into a family-sized batch, it can mean trouble.
Onion poisoning symptoms include:
- red urine
If your dog is showing any of these signs, call a vet right away.
Gum and Sugar-Free Foods
Gum is bad for dogs not only because of possible toxicity but because it can block the digestive tract.
But gum (and many sugar-free candies and foods) contains artificial sweeteners, which can be deadly to a dog.
Always be sure to check ingredients before feeding your dog something new, especially if it’s something not intended for dogs. If you see Xylitol on the label, keep it far away from your dog.
Grapes and Raisins
Although the reason is still unknown, grapes, raisins, and currants, which are in the same family, can cause kidney shutdown in dogs.
Kidney failure is serious and usually leads to death, so it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Macadamia nuts are poisonous to dogs and can cause vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, fever, and vomiting.
Seeds and Pits
Seeds and pits of various fruits are toxic to dogs, even if they’re able to eat the flesh of some of these fruits.
A few such seeds and pits are:
- apple seeds
- avocado pits (and skins)
- peach pits
- cherry pits
- apricot pits
Green or Raw Bits
Similar to pits and seeds, dogs can sometimes be allergic to just the green bits on a plant or only to the raw plant. Two common examples are:
Raw potatoes, as well as the leaves and stems on a potato plant, are poisonous to dogs. But plain cooked potatoes in small quantities are okay.
Likewise, the green parts on a tomato are unsafe to eat, but a tiny amount of cooked tomato is fine. However, too much can cause an upset stomach due to the high acid levels.
This list is not extensive, so it’s best not to give your dog seeds or pits of any kind without first checking with your vet.
Brown Sugar Isn’t The Greatest Treat
Although brown sugar in small doses isn’t the worst thing you can give your dog, it’s far from the best thing you can give him.
If you’re looking to give your dog a treat, try old favorites like scrambled eggs, peanut butter, or small amounts of cheese.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.