Can I Give My Dog Cake?
When we were kids, we looked forward to birthdays because we knew that with each passing year we would acquire more gifts, more privileges, and more extravagant parties. As adults, we can anticipate our birthdays for only one reason: cake. Birthday cake is one of those rare festive foods that is universally loved, and almost universally eaten all across the United States. New Yorkers and Californians alike celebrate their birthdays with decadent cakes and cupcakes. Cakes also have the privilege of being one of the few foods that is eaten almost exclusively in social settings—cake, which is a symbol of togetherness and celebration, is designed to be shared. Giving someone a slice of cake is the best way to tell someone you love them.
However, not everyone we love wears birthday hats, uses silverware, or says ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Though our pets are not human, they are part of our family, and many families like to include them in festivities throughout the year. So, is this one tradition we can share with our furry friends? Can dogs have cake?
The answer probably will not surprise you. For obvious reasons, cake is not recommended for dogs—we understand that it is junk food for us, and this holds true for our dogs. While there are some types of cake your dog should never consume in any amount, many birthday or holiday cakes will not hurt your dog if you share a bite or two with them on very rare occasions. Make sure you are familiar with the substances that are toxic to pets, and be aware of the ingredients used in any food you give to your pet. And, if you do decide to give your dog some cake at your next birthday party, keep their portion very, very small. They don’t need a whole slice.
Unsurprisingly, there are no health benefits to feeding your dog cake of any kind. Even though some types of cake are made with candied, fresh or frozen fruit, the amount used is usually so small that your dog doesn’t really get any of the benefits they would get eating the fruit by itself. Not to completely crush your dreams, but it turns out that shortcake is not the healthiest vehicle for strawberries. If you want to give your dog a sweet treat that they can eat fairly regularly, fresh sliced fruit is a much better option than even small amounts of cake.
Cake in general is an unhealthy food for people and dogs alike. The vast majority of cakes are extremely high in sugar, which is even worse for your dog than it is for you. Sugar, at best, can be thought of as empty calories… of which cake has a lot! Just as you would pack on the pounds pretty quickly if you ate birthday cake regularly, your dog will almost certainly become overweight or even obese if they indulge too often. If your dog eats sugary foods in excess, they will also be put at an increased risk of developing diabetes, cavities, and other dental problems.
Things to Keep in Mind
Considering our pets can’t brush their own teeth twice a day (or make their own dental appointments if their mouths hurt), we should probably take care when we feed them foods that may have a negative impact on their oral health. This is about more than just bad breath—oral health has a huge impact on your dog’s overall health. Bacterial infections, cavities, and rotting teeth can do damage to every aspect of your dog’s health. The toxic waste that comes from these bacterial infections enters the bloodstream and spreads all over the body, where it can damage the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs, and liver. Extremely severe cases can even cause organ failure, which can be fatal. So don’t feed your dog sugary foods that will rot their teeth out!
However, sugar is not the only potential danger in cake. Sugar-free cakes may be an even bigger risk, because they are often sweetened with xylitol, which is poisonous to cats and dogs. Other potential poisoning risks include raisins, grapes, chocolate, coffee (the caffeine content is dangerous), and macadamia nuts. A bite or two of chocolate or coffee cake likely will not kill your dog, but it’s better to be safe than to be sorry. When sharing birthday cake, make sure to scrape off any chocolate shavings or chunks, and avoid feeding them any amount of the ingredients listed above.
As you probably guessed, most experts do not recommend feeding cake to your dog. This high-calorie junk food, if given in excess, will increase your dog’s chances of obesity, diabetes, and dental problems. That being said, if you want to share a little bit of cake on your birthday, you don’t need to worry that it will result in an emergency trip to the vet’s office. Just avoid ingredients like chocolate and raisins, keep their portion small, and don’t let your relatives sneak them seconds or thirds!