Can I Give My Dog Soda?
Dogs are not renowned for pickiness or sensitive stomachs. We trust our canine companions to clean dropped table scraps off the kitchen floor. We laugh at the truth in the wide variety of unpalatable foodstuffs that dogs on sitcoms love to gobble up before the commercial break. We often find ourselves horrified to discover the inedible monstrosities our beloved dogs pull from our trash cans behind our backs and eat without batting an eyelash. For the most part, it seems that dogs have evolved to eat anything we can throw at them.
But, all joking aside, most pet owners have come to realize that there are some things to consider when putting together the ideal doggy diet, and there is a growing list of ‘forbidden foods’ for our pets. Chocolate is the most widely discussed, but what about our favorite junky beverage? We love fizzy, caffeinated beverages, and we bet our dogs would, too. Can dogs have soda pop?
If you have ever read the back of a soda can, the answer to this question probably does not surprise you: No, dogs should not drink soda. While lapping a couple drops of Coke off the floor is not going to hurt Fido (soda is not poisonous to dogs in any immediately life-threatening way), there is no reason to pour him his own little dish of soda. You might not notice any problems immediately after giving your dog soda, but it’s incredibly bad for them. There are much better ‘people food’ treat options, like fruits and vegetables.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Dog Soda
Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian, your dog should really only drink water—there is absolutely no benefit to giving your dog soda. Soda is one of the worst beverages you could share with your dog. While you could make the argument that 100% juice at least provides some small amount of vitamins and minerals, there is no way to make a nutritional argument in favor of a can of soda. Most soda consists of carbonated water, caffeine, artificial colors and flavors, and either sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Popular sodas aren’t even fortified with added vitamins and minerals. This means that your dog takes in a whole lot of sugar, calories, and additives, without the potential for any health benefits.
The simple sugars found in soda are incredibly bad for dogs. Naturally occurring sugars found in fruit are considered safe because they come with vitamins and a fair amount of fiber to prevent blood sugar spikes. Drinking high amounts of sugar water, however, without the nutrition and the dietary fiber, can have disastrous effects on your dog’s health. Soda is often very high in calories that can add up quickly, causing weight gain that can lead to obesity. In fact, soda is the only ‘food’ that has ever been directly linked to obesity.
Fat dogs may be cute, but they are not healthy. Obesity does more than cause your dog to waddle. If your pup has too much pudge, they will often find exercise unpleasant, and they may tire quickly while playing their favorite games—or, if it becomes too uncomfortable, they will refuse to exercise at all. Even worse, dogs who are carrying too much extra weight can end up with muscular problems, crippling joint or bone diseases, thyroid problems, diabetes, breathing problems, and cardiovascular issues. In addition, canine obesity decreases lifespan, which means you get fewer years with your pudgy, soda-sipping companion.
Things to Keep in Mind
Sugar isn’t the only potential danger in soda—diet sodas are just as bad for your dog. Sugar-free soda options are full of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, some of which may be highly toxic to dogs. Some sodas contain xylitol, which is extremely poisonous to both cats and dogs. Other common sweeteners, such as aspartame, are not directly linked to sickness and death, but it’s best to avoid them to play it safe. Giving your dog artificial sweeteners may harm them physically, but it can also ‘spoil’ them. Artificial sweeteners are often ten to one hundred times sweeter than sugar. Training your dog to crave these fake, sweet foods can make it difficult to get them to eat foods that are not sweetened. The last thing you want is a Saint Bernard with a sweet tooth!
Caffeine is harmful to your dog, too. They have a far lower tolerance for it than people do. Most sodas (unless they are energy drinks) do not have enough caffeine to cause overdose symptoms, but you’re still better off avoiding it. Symptoms of overdose include hyperactivity, anxiety, increased heart rate, and vomiting.
All things considered, there is no compelling argument in favor of giving your dog soda. It is nutritionally empty, high in calories, and full of sugar and caffeine that can do a lot of damage to your dog’s health in the long run. If your dog is looking to quench their thirst, water is the best option.