Are Lifesavers Bad for Dogs?by Angela Libal
Perhaps your sweet-toothed pup just got his own treats out of your pocket, or maybe an associate as tactful as she is helpful has suggested giving mint candies to your stinky-mouthed best friend. Luckily, it turns out Lifesavers are no worse for dogs than they are for humans.
Those'll Rot Your Teeth!
Lifesavers are mostly sugar, and as you are no doubt well aware, sugar promotes tooth decay. This is extra-true for our furry best friends, whose oral hygiene skills are lacking. Even if you are that rare owner who manages to brush your buddy's teeth as religiously as your own, no one can claim that sugar is actually good for dogs. Indulgence in candy can also contribute to type 2 diabetes, tummy upset and be a choking hazard (though this is unlikely with that life-saving hole in the middle).
But for the Diet Conscious...
So how about sugar-free Lifesavers? It turns out that unlike many sugar-free items, these may actually be healthier for your pup than the original version. Some sugar substitutes often found in mint-flavored candies and dental products are extremely poisonous to dogs. Lifesavers do not contain these. Instead, their main sweetener is sucralose, which was widely tested for safety in dogs. It isn't considered to have any ill effects on canines.
Isomalt is a sugar alcohol also used to sweeten sugar-free Lifesavers. It breaks down in the body without causing a blood sugar spike or promoting tooth decay. It is considered safe for dogs, though it can cause diarrhea in some sensitive canines and their human friends.
Apparently a rumor occasionally goes around that mint, and hence mint-flavored candies, is poisonous to dogs. Not so. Spearmint and peppermint are perfectly harmless herbs that have no ill effects in canines, and they're celebrated for their digestive benefits and breath-freshening effects. Wintergreen, on the other hand, is not actually a mint at all, but a small, evergreen plant whose oil can be extremely poisonous to pets. Luckily, wintergreen Lifesavers are artificially flavored. You may still want to reconsider the wisdom of encouraging Fido to feast on candy, but at least you won't poison him by doing so.
- Continental Kennel Club: Isn't That Poisonous to Dogs?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Sweeteners
- Food and Chemical Toxicology: The Pharmokinetics and Metabolism of Sucralose in the Dog
- Good Guide: Isomalt Guide
- Veterinary Insider: Five Essential Oils You Want to Avoid in Pets
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images