Balloons and presents and a frosting-laden cake ... it must be somebody's birthday. Chances are the dog's invited, if it's not his party outright. If you already know the dangers chocolate poses to your pet, you might think a vanilla cake is perfectly fine to feed your furry friend. The absence of chocolate doesn't make cake an okay treat to feed your dog, however.
Cake in General
One tiny bite of non-chocolate cake on a very infrequent basis won't pose a danger to your dog's health. That doesn't give you the green light to give him a full-size slice of cake on every holiday and celebratory occasion, though. Cake in general is full of sugar and fat that won't do your dog a bit of good -- even if the cake has no frosting. Feeding your dog vanilla cake can put him at risk of becoming overweight, which can bring a host of other health issues into the mix including joint problems and heart disease. And since obesity can cause diabetes, feeding your dog a blood-sugar-raising piece of cake is like putting him in double danger.
The Evils of Vanilla Extract
It's fairly well-known that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but few people are aware that vanilla is on the list of things that can poison your pooch. The vanilla itself is not harmful to your hound; the alcohol in both pure and imitation vanilla extract is. You might argue that the alcohol evaporates and cooks out of the cake during the baking process, but if vanilla extract is in the frosting, the danger is still there.
Better Treat Options
There are better ways to treat your dog on his birthday or for any special occasion. There are a number of different chew treats on the market that your pup would love to spend awhile gnawing on. With the fiber, protein and fats that they contain, you'll be giving him a treat that will benefit his dental health from the chewing and his overall health as well. Even a normal piece of rawhide will be seen as a treat if it's something you don't give your dog every day. Don't overlook raw vegetables like baby carrots as treats. Your dog will enjoy nibbling these if nothing that smells tastier is in his periphery. They won't raise his blood sugar or add to his waistline.
Bake It Yourself
If you have your heart set on a birthday cake for Bowzer, bake a special one for him yourself. Just blend together 1¼ cups of maple syrup, 1 cup of skim milk, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1¼ cups of vegetable oil. Add in 1¾ cups of sifted flour, ½ cup of uncooked oatmeal,1 teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix well to make a smooth cake batter. Pour it into a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You can make a batch of frosting by mixing an 8-ounce brick of Neufchatel cheese -- its just like cream cheese but with less fat -- with ¼ cup of vegetable shortening. Better yet, forgo the frosting and serve the cake to your dog plain. Either way, be sure to allow the cake to cool completely before frosting it or feeding it to your dog.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.