Is Artificial Sweeteners safe for dogs? A Complete Guide
When selecting products for our beloved dogs, we often come across ingredients like erythritol in the toothpaste for dogs. These artificial sweeteners can be found in various human foods and generally do not have a significant impact on human health or cause discomfort. However, there have been reports in the past about xylitol causing severe health issues and even fatalities in dogs.
With a principle of not purchasing products with uncertain ingredients for our dogs, even though we don't have any immediate shopping needs, we've been eager to gather more information about the safety of artificial sweeteners for dogs and cats. That's why we found these articles about artificial sweeteners and pets.
In our daily diet, many ingredients naturally contain sugars. However, in recent years, low-carb and ketogenic diets have become popular, leading people to seek alternatives that are not fattening but still provide sweetness. Artificial sweeteners have become a common substitute in such cases.
Various artificial sweeteners are commonly used in both human and pet foods. We all desire tasty foods that satisfy our cravings without adding excessive weight. Apart from xylitol, the following are some commonly used artificial sweeteners:
- Erythritol: This sugar alcohol is industrially produced and is a popular choice among low-carb and keto diet followers due to its versatility. Research has shown that erythritol is safe for dogs.
- Aspartame: Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, so it is used in small amounts. Products containing aspartame can cause mild gastrointestinal discomfort in pets.
- Sucralose: Sold under the brand name Splenda, sucralose performs well in baked goods and can be found in diet drinks and other items. It is not toxic to pets, but evidence suggests that excessive consumption can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Stevia: Stevia is a popular natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the South American plant Stevia rebaudiana. Research has not found stevia to be toxic to dogs, but excessive consumption may lead to diarrhea.
- Monk Fruit Sweetener: Also known as lo han guo, monk fruit is a small, round fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. The extract from this fruit is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories, making it a popular choice for those seeking a natural sugar substitute. Monk fruit is non-toxic to pets.
- Saccharine: Saccharine is the primary ingredient in Sweet'N Low and is commonly found in diet drinks, mixed beverages, salad dressings, and "light" fruit canned goods. Although this ingredient is not toxic to pets, it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Sorbitol: Sorbitol is considered safe for dogs, especially in moderate amounts. While some artificial sweeteners like xylitol are toxic to dogs, sorbitol is not one of them. This sweetener is frequently added to various dog food and pet toothpaste products.
To summarize, erythritol, sorbitol, and monk fruit sweetener generally have minimal effects on dogs. On the other hand, aspartame, sucralose, stevia, and saccharine, while non-toxic, may cause gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea if consumed excessively.
We often enjoy sharing food with our furry companions, whether it's baking homemade treats or choosing store-bought products. It's best to read ingredient labels and select ingredients that are relatively safe for dogs and less likely to cause digestive issues.
Veterinarians still recommend opting for natural ingredients whenever possible, as these artificial sweeteners, although relatively harmless to dogs, offer no health benefits. So, if we have an overweight and food-driven dog that accepts any food, using starch-free and low-sugar vegetables like cucumbers and carrots can be excellent ingredients for satisfying cravings and providing a sense of fullness. However, if we occasionally want to treat our furry friends with a shared cake or biscuit, using safe sugar substitutes in moderation can help reduce sugar intake while satisfying their taste buds.