Can I Give My Dog Oreos?
While we all have our own favorite junk foods—and many popular junk foods elicit strong ‘love it or hate it’ feelings—few Americans will turn down a package of Oreos, and fewer will be able to stop after eating just one. As one of the most popular store-bought cookies sold in the United States, Oreos are one of a handful of foods that are easy to find regardless of your region. Whether you’re wandering through a general store in the Sierra Nevadas or a gas station in Florida, you will find at least two varieties of Oreos for sale. In the last several years, these delicious little cookies have only grown in popularity as Nabisco has cranked out limited edition flavors at the speed of light.
Most pet owners love to treat their dog to the occasional snack food. Since we love Oreos, it follows that our dogs would love them, too. But is it safe to share? Can dogs have Oreos?
The answer: technically, yes, your dog CAN eat Oreos. There are no highly toxic ingredients in these cookies, so there is no need to rush your dog to the vet if they snag an Oreo from underneath the table. The miniscule amount of chocolate found inside these snacks is generally not enough to result in chocolate toxicity in canines. This does not, however, mean that they SHOULD eat Oreos—these highly processed little cookies are on a long list of junk food items that can harm your dog’s health in the long term. So don’t sweat a single Oreo, but do not let Oreos become a habit. They are not suitable treats for dogs.
It probably comes as no surprise that these tasty, cream-filled morsels have absolutely no health benefits. Whereas many sugary snack foods marketed as healthy are at least fortified with vitamins and minerals, Oreos are devoid of nutrition. They may taste good, but they offer no health benefits for you, and certainly none for your canine companion.
Because these sugary snacks are completely empty of key vitamins and minerals (even the fruit flavored ones!), they are empty calories. If you start slipping your dog nutritionally empty calorie bombs like Oreos, they are likely to start packing on the pounds—fast. Dogs who eat more calories than they burn are likely to become overweight or even obese. Your pudgy pug may look cute, but all that excess body fat diminishes their quality of life. Canine obesity increases your pooch’s chances of suffering from a multitude of ailments, including osteoarthritis, insulin resistance, type two diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, several types of cancer, and premature death. One estimate shows that obese dogs’ lifespans can be shortened by up to two and a half years. Yikes!
To make matters worse, our dogs are even more prone to weight gain than we are, because they need far fewer calories. With lower calorie burn comes less room for empty calories. For humans, Oreos can be acceptable in moderation. For dogs, eating Oreos is only a good idea if the nuclear apocalypse has occurred and they are facing starving to death. Your dog has a very small calorie budget, and they need to spend it on nutrient-dense foods!
In addition to being loaded with calories, Oreos are quite high in refined sugar, which can only hurt your dog’s health. High sugar, low fiber snacks can only deliver chaos to your dog’s blood sugar—they result in sudden blood sugar spikes, which then plummet as the body pumps out large amounts of insulin. This will leave your dog feeling hungry, lethargic, or nauseous. These foods also contribute to insulin resistance, which is the precursor to type two diabetes.
Things to Consider
Feeding your precious pooch sugary snacks is also a sure way to destroy their dental hygiene—sugar contributes to the formation of cavities and the development of gingivitis and other oral infections. Poor oral hygiene does more than give your dog dragon breath; oral infections can be incredibly painful, and, if left untreated, tend to ‘leak’ bacteria into the bloodstream. These bacteria then travel to other organs, causing them to become diseased. In severe cases, oral infections result in complete organ failure, which is often fatal. Avoiding giving Fido any Oreos is a great way to keep his mouth clean.
While it is true that there is not enough chocolate in an Oreo to result in theobromine poisoning, it is still a better idea to forego these cookies altogether. Do not panic if your dog eats an Oreo or two on accident, but resist the urge to feed any to them intentionally. These highly processed cookies are loaded with calories, sugar, and fat that can damage your canine companion’s health in the long term. If your dog has a sweet tooth, try cutting up some fresh fruit instead.