Can Dogs Eat Graham Crackers? What to Know About This Sweet Treat
Your loyal pup is by your side when you're sitting around the campfire, sharing stories and enjoying the fireflies. As you make good ol' fashioned s'mores, you may be tempted to sneak a graham cracker nibble to your pup. (Since hey, we all know they can't have chocolate!). However, with any human-intended food, it's important to understand the potential risks before introducing it to your four-legged buddy.
Here, we spoke with veterinarians to see if dogs can eat graham crackers, s'mores, Teddy Grahams, and more versions of this sweet cracker.
Are Graham Crackers Good or Bad for Dogs?
So what's the verdict? Are graham crackers a fun treat for your pup—or a potentially dangerous snack you should avoid at all costs? The easiest way to think about graham crackers is to compare them to ice cream for adults, says Jeff Werber, DVM and chief veterinary officer at Airvet. "In moderation, they're not bad; they do taste good. But, in excess, they could present a problem," he explains.
Giving your pup an occasional piece of a graham cracker probably won't cause any issues unless they have an allergy. But if you're consistently giving them chunks of this human snack, you're packing their diet with too much sugar and carbohydrates, which could lead to weight gain and even obesity.
How Many Graham Crackers Can Dogs Safely Eat?
While they aren't dangerous or toxic, graham crackers don't provide any nutritional benefit to your dog, warns Danielle Bernal, DVM at Wellness Pet Company.
With this in mind, she says a general rule is that treats should not contribute any more than 10 percent of their nutritional intake. While this may vary a bit, depending on breed size and activity level, it's best to shoot for the 10-percent target. Remember to work with your veterinarian to find the optimal feeding plan for your individual pup.
"For a 22-pound dog, their approximate intake is 400 calories a day, so if one graham cracker rectangle is 59 calories, that 10-percent rule means that they should only receive closer to two-thirds of that cracker," she says.
What Kinds of Graham Crackers Can Dogs Eat?
If you decide to give your pup a bite of your graham cracker, make sure you don't accidentally introduce something toxic to their diet. You want to keep it as simple as possible so that treat doesn't cost you a trip to the vet. Here's how to approach familiar graham cracker treats and varieties:
S'mores should not be given to dogs, ever, says Michelle Lugones, DVM at Best Friends Animal Society. "They contain chocolate which is toxic to dogs, and marshmallows are high in sugar, which could be problematic for a diabetic and isn't nutritious," she explains. "If any part of the s'mores contains xylitol, it is also toxic to dogs and can cause a dangerous drop in their blood sugar as well as liver failure."
Cinnamon Graham Crackers
In addition to the empty calories in plain graham crackers, Lugones says if a dog eats a lot of cinnamon, it could cause vomiting, diarrhea, cause coughing from irritating the airways, and irritate the mouth. "This is similar to what happens when people eat a lot of cinnamon at once," she adds. Watch the amount of cinnamon that graham cracker is dusted with before sharing a taste.
Honey Graham Crackers
While honey is safe for dogs in small amounts, it's not something they should be eating every day (and they might not even like it!). Still, if your favorite type of graham cracker is of the honey variety, your pup can share a nibble or two. Just watch out for any xylitol in the ingredient list.
If they don't contain chocolate, cocoa, raisins, xylitol, or cinnamon in large amounts, then Lugones say these beloved kids' crackers should be safe to give to a dog in moderation.
Graham Cracker Alternatives
If you'd rather give your pup a treat with a little more nutritional value, these fruits and vegetables are good options to share. And since your dog can't join in on the summer s'mores, try sharing one of these homemade frozen treats instead.
Fruits can make great treats for dogs—so when you slice them for yourself, give your four-legged pal a bit, too, recommends Werber. Apple without skin, bananas, and berries are all good options.
Some vegetables are nutritious and can be fed to most dogs in moderation, like zucchini, Lugones says. Lugones recommends boiling this veggie and serving it in small pieces.
Green beans are high in vitamin K, which is a nutrient needed to clot blood normally, Lugones says. To serve, boil them and cut them into small pieces—just leave out the seasonings and butter!
Lugones says carrots are generally considered a healthy dog treat because they're low calorie, high fiber, and good sources of beta carotene and vitamin A. "Beta carotene is a potent antioxidant, and vitamin A supports vision and skin health," she says. "Carrots can be fed raw or boiled as a treat and should be cut into small pieces, mashed, or shredded to prevent choking."