Can I Give My Dog Donuts?
For many Americans, when we fantasize about the perfect breakfast, our fantasy involves a box of a dozen donuts all to ourselves. Whether you love maple bars, cake donuts, crullers, chocolate-covered donuts with sprinkles, or plain old glazed donuts, you have probably caught yourself eating one (or two) more than you had initially planned. No one is going to argue that donuts are an ideal breakfast when it comes to health, but most of us find ways to squeeze the occasional breakfast confectionery into our diets. Donuts are one of the most popular ways to celebrate holidays or birthdays at the office, after all.
We like to mark office birthdays with donuts, but what about doggy birthdays? Is it okay to treat our canine companions to the occasional frosted, custard-filled, sprinkle-laden donut? Can dogs have donuts?
Most donuts will not kill your dog immediately, but the answer is still no. Even if it is their birthday, your dog should not eat donuts. Your coworkers can probably stomach the occasional confectionery without causing serious damage to their health, but as a responsible pet owner, you should refrain from subjecting your canine companion to the sugar, fat, and salt present in donuts. Find a more pet-friendly way to celebrate your dog’s birthday.
Health Benefits? Nope.
It pretty much goes without saying that there are no health benefits to donuts. Nutritionally speaking, these sweet treats have no redeeming qualities—most of them have absolutely none of the fiber, protein, healthy fats, micronutrients, or antioxidants necessary to support an active dog’s body. Your dog is an omnivore, which means that their diet can have more variety than your cat’s, but this does not mean that junk food is a viable source of nutrition.
At best, that donut you sneak your dog is a huge, fluffy ring of empty calories. Most dogs need even fewer calories than humans do to maintain their weight, so those empty calories add up fast. If you sneak your dog unhealthy foods with any regularity, don’t be surprised when their weight starts to climb. Dogs who often indulge in sweet treats are far more likely to wind up overweight or obese.
Canine obesity can rob your pooch of their energy levels and love of exercise, but the long-term effects can be even more sinister. Dogs who are overweight or obese are much more likely to struggle with diseases such as insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems, arthritis, kidney problems, and many different types of cancer. Obesity can also shorten your dog’s lifespan by over two years.
The high fat content in donuts can cause more immediate health problems, too. The big one is a disease called pancreatitis, which occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. This can be mild and acute, or it can be severe and chronic. Symptoms of pancreatitis often include swollen or painful stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, breathing problems, and irregular heartbeat. If the condition is severe and goes untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the pancreas.
Things to Consider
Many donuts contain an ingredient that can put your dog’s life in immediate danger: chocolate. Whether it comes in the form of filling for frosting, chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs. If your donut contains any of this poisonous ingredient, don’t even give your dog a bite! This is the one type of donut that should be absolutely forbidden to all dogs. If you must give them a sweet treat, opt for the plainest donut you can. This will reduce the calorie and sugar content and minimize the risk of exposing them to potentially poisonous foods.
All that sugar comes with one other risk: cavities. If you feed your dog sugary foods like donuts, you have to be even more careful about their oral hygiene—brush their teeth regularly and do your best to give them fibrous treats that are good for their mouth. The sugar in donuts can increase the number of dangerous bacteria that can cause cavities or gum disease. Oral infections can be painful on their own, but if they are not addressed, they can also cause damage to the rest of the body. Poor oral hygiene can contribute to heart, liver, and kidney problems in you and your dog.
In conclusion, feeding your dog a bite of your glazed donut will not kill them, but this food should not be fed to them in large amounts or with any regularity. Confectioneries containing any amount of chocolate should be completely off limits, but other donuts are generally considered nontoxic. They are, however, loaded with sugar, fat, and calories that can contribute to obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, heart disease, and cavities. To keep Fido from feeling left out, give them some fresh fruit instead. If your dog’s birthday is coming up and you want to give them something special, look into doggy birthday cake recipes.