Can Dogs Eat Caramel? (Uncovering the Facts)
by Tudor Nikolas on Aug 03, 2023.
Overall, dogs should not eat caramel as it can be unhealthy for them. Caramel is not a nutrient-rich food and it mostly contains sugar as you can see below.
However, caramel in tiny amounts on the rare occasion might be ok.
I've compiled this table to show the rough nutritional values of 100g of caramel:
|Caramel (per 100g)|
|.. of which sugars||47.0g|
During my canine nutrition training, I was always taught that any food that contains 50% or more sugars should not be given to dogs.
Although this is especially harmful to dogs with diabetes, none of the other dogs without medical conditions would benefit from it.
Dogs' bodies aren't designed to handle large amounts of sugar. Consumption of sweets can lead to a spike in their blood sugar levels, leading to conditions like obesity, diabetes, and dental problems. This process is also similar to what happens in us humans when we have high sugar intake.
In addition, sugar can also affect a dog's behaviour, causing hyperactivity, anxiety, and even aggression.
Therefore, it's generally not recommended to feed dogs sweets or food items high in sugar.
What is caramel?
Caramel is a confectionery product that is derived from the process of heating various sugars. The manufacturing process explains why it is so high in sugars. It is typically made by heating sugar until it changes colour, a process known as caramelisation.
This results in a sweet, dark golden-brown product that is used in a variety of sweets and desserts.
The main ingredient in caramel is sugar, but it may also contain elements like milk, butter, and vanilla.
As you can see in the table, caramel is high in calories and sugar but lacks any significant amounts of vitamins or minerals. It is mostly carbohydrates, primarily in the form of simple sugars.
If you do want to try making caramel at home, there are various recipes available. You could go for much less sugar for example, but this is likely to affect its consistency.
I also found this interesting caramel apple recipe on YouTube. With Halloween around the corner, you might decide to also give it a go! Note however that the amount of caramel that the apple is coated in is kept to a minimum.
The main nutritional aspect for this treat comes from the apple itself.
The effects of caramel on dogs
Given that caramel is essentially sugar, it poses the same risks to dogs as other sweet foods.
A little bit of caramel may not have any impact, depending on the size of your dog, but cumulatively it can add up.
If your dog ate a lot of caramel in one go, he or she may also develop symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, and an upset stomach.
In the long term, regular consumption can lead to obesity, diabetes, dental issues, and other serious health problems.
Even worse, some caramel is made with or coated with chocolate, which is toxic for dogs.
Other contain high levels of fat from butter or cream, contributing to pancreatitis in dogs.
What to do if your dog eats caramel?
If your dog has only eaten a small amount of caramel, it may be fine. You could monitor it closely for any signs or symptoms of feeling unwell and distressed.
You could also monitor the poop to make sure the colour doesn't change into a worrying yellow or red poop.
However, if your dog has consumed a large quantity of caramel, or if the caramel contained other harmful ingredients like chocolate, it's essential to contact your vet immediately.
A trained vet can then review your dog and consider whether further treatment is necessary.
Alternatives to caramel for dogs
As dog owners, we are now aware of the dangers of caramel and other sweets. But if a dog can't eat caramel, what are the alternatives? After all, this doesn't mean that they can't enjoy a treat.
With a bit of imagination or by following some of our recipes, you can turn these common dog safe foods into much appreciated treats that are nutritious and delicious.
In addition to fruits, there are plenty of dog-specific treats available on the market. These treats are designed to be nutritionally balanced and safe for dogs, often made with ingredients that support their overall health.
Can Dogs Eat Caramel?
Not advisable! However, it may be ok in small amounts. Home made is probably the best because you can adjust what goes in it.
Make sure you keep caramel out of reach of dogs, no matter their size. Having it in large amounts in one go can be harmful. Remember they can easily snatch sweets from table tops or kitchen worktops so do them a favour and keep harmful food away from their reach.
A bit like children really...
And with a little creativity and a focus on their nutritional needs, you can find plenty of ways to give your dog the treats they love without compromising their health. If you think your dog is bored, check out these tips on keeping your dog entertained at home.
For more health tips and to inform yourself, check our Dog Health blog!