Plain yogurt makes a delicious treat for your pup, but if it contains an artificial sweetener, it could be toxic to him. Before you give your furry friend a taste of your yogurt cup, check its ingredients to avoid possible trouble from something intended as a treat.
Your yogurt might contain one of several types of artificial sweeteners, including sucralose, aspartame and saccharin. Any of them could cause tummy upset for your pal, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These aren't the only artificial sweeteners you might encounter, but they are the ones with the fewest side effects. More serious consequences can follow if you feed your pup yogurt sweetened with stevia, a natural sweetener. Derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, this sweetener can cause a drop in your pup's blood pressure, according to a study published in the January 2007 issue of "Experimental Biology and Medicine." Your pooch's low blood pressure may lead to weakness, fainting or confusion, according to VetInfo.
Dangers of Xylitol
One of the most dangerous artificial sweeteners you may encounter in flavored yogurt is xylitol. If you give your pup yogurt containing this sweetener, it can increase his insulin levels and cause a dangerous drop in his blood-sugar level. Consequences can be liver failure, coma and death in some cases. Signs of xylitol poisoning include seizures, irregular heartbeat, depression and loss of coordination. Check the label of the yogurt you plan to give your pup to see if xylitol is listed in the ingredients before you offer it to your furry friend.
In general, yogurt makes a tasty treat for your pup when you give it to him in moderation. It contains protein, calcium and live bacteria that act as probiotics, all of which are healthy for pooches, according to Modern Dog Magazine. To avoid accidentally causing your pup any stomach upset or potentially poisoning him with toxins, only purchase plain, unsweetened yogurt. Flavored yogurts contain sugar, which isn't good for your dog and contains unnecessary calories. If your pup is on the pudgy side, look for fat-free yogurt instead of full-fat ones. Give your pooch a teaspoon or two of the yogurt in either a puzzle toy, mixed with his kibble or frozen into cubes that he can enjoy on a hot summer day.
Labels and Toxicity
Avoid purchasing yogurts for your pup labeled as "light" or "sugar-free." The label should say only "plain" and "unsweetened" yogurt; sugar-free yogurts usually contain a sugar substitute rather than simply no sugar at all. If you suspect your pooch has eaten yogurt containing an artificial sweetener, ascertain which sweetener it was by reading the label. Consult with your vet. Depending on the sweetener, you may need to bring your pup in for an emergency vet visit to prevent a toxic reaction from the ingestion of ingredients such as xylitol.
Keep in mind that yogurt might not agree with all pups, including yours. Some pooches are lactose intolerant, just like people, and yogurt could lead to some tummy upset. If you notice your pup experiences diarrhea or vomiting, or gets a bit gassy after eating dairy products, including plain unsweetened yogurt, you should cut these products out of his diet, even in small amounts. Consult your vet if you believe your pup might be lactose intolerant.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: How to Stuff a KONG Toy
- The Seattle Times: Veterinary Q&A: Why is Xylitol so Dangerous for Dogs and Cats?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Sweeteners
- Advances in Food Research, Volume 28; C. O. Chichester
- petMD: Dog Toxic Xylitol in Gums, Mints, Desserts...and Now Drugs
- VetInfo: Top 10 Things That Can Poison Your Dog
- petMD: 7 Home Remedies for Your Dog
- VetInfo: The Case Against Feeding Dogs Yogurt
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.