Pet Consider

Can Dogs Eat Crackers?

Can I Give My Dog Crackers?


When it comes to American snack foods, the most popular trio—the three foods we all dreamed of finding in our lunch boxes as kids—are the Big Three C-Foods: cookies, chips, and crackers. These three foods may taste different, and they may require slightly different methods of preparation, but most of us understand that they are pretty much the same food. Nutritionally, the big difference is that they contain varying ratios of salt, sugar, and fat. Crackers, just like their slightly more glamorous junk food brethren, belong at the very top of our food pyramid. We know to eat them rarely. We measure out reasonable portion sizes for our kids.

But sometimes, the soul demands crackers, and we find ourselves flopped out on the couch, watching reruns and nibbling on our cracker of choice. It doesn’t take long once the box is open and our fingers are coated in salt—within ten minutes, the dog comes running, shoves their head against our legs, and begins to cry. What is a responsible pet owner to do? Can dogs have crackers? Is this a suitable dessert option for your beloved Poodle?

The answer probably does not surprise you: while your dog is not going to drop dead after swallowing a couple crackers, it is not recommended to feed crackers to canines. They are nutritionally empty, usually high in calories, and full of all the stuff that is bad for dogs. Crackers contain salt. Crackers contain sugar. Crackers contain fat. Though your dog may love these forbidden flavors, they will not do their body any favors!

Health Benefits?

There are no health benefits of crackers for dogs or for people. Most crackers do not contain meaningful amounts of any whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, or vegetables. They tend to be made with refined flour and unhealthy, cholesterol-raising fats. The sugar content usually comes from sugar, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup, instead of whole food sources. There is no way to pretend that you are supporting your dog’s health when you are feeding them crackers. This is not a suitable filler for their food dish.

That being said, there are certainly worse things to feed your dog—crackers are not dangerous to pets in the way that foods like garlic or grapes are. Unless they are flavored with toxic ingredients (like garlic), most crackers will not result in any immediate health problems. Crackers may be a good choice if you are looking for a way to bribe your dog to take medications or to lure them outside to pee in the rain. As a very rare treat, it is not harmful to give your dog a cracker.

crackers

However, be aware of the types of crackers you choose to give your dog. Crackers that are flavored with garlic or extremely high in salt (think saltine crackers) are best avoided. So, too, you should avoid giving your dog crackers smeared with dips like guacamole, ranch, hummus, and some nut butters, because these dips are often highly processed and may contain flavorings that are toxic to dogs. Some of these flavorings include garlic, onions, and the sweetener xylitol, which may be present in peanut or almond butter.

If you make your own guacamole or bean dip and you know it contains no toxic ingredients, it’s still better to avoid it simply due to calorie content. Your dog is used to eating kibble. They don’t need spicy guacamole in order to enjoy eating a cracker!

Things to Keep in Mind


Once you have started giving your dog crackers as treats, make sure you do not overdo it. Eating too many crackers, which are high in calories, will (obviously) increase your dog’s risk of becoming overweight or obese. In addition, eating too much salt can quickly have adverse effects on your dog’s health, because dogs have an even lower tolerance for salt than humans do. Additionally, feeding your dog too many treats of any kind can cause them to become ‘spoiled.’ If your dog feels that they can have a sinfully delicious treat like crackers whenever they want, they may start refusing their dog food and begging constantly. Be sure that your dog doesn’t expect crackers!

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s best for you and your dog if you resist the urge to share your crackers. While these crunchy snacks are not toxic to your dog, per se, they offer no nutritional benefits and contain a lot of salt and empty calories. If you feel bad for subjecting your dog to a ‘boring’ diet of nothing but kibble, better treat options include apples, bananas, and carrots. If you absolutely must give your dog crackers, keep the serving size as small as possible, make sure the crackers are not flavored with garlic or onion, and skip on the high-fat, high-calorie dip. When it comes to feeding your dog crackers: the fewer, the better.

 

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