Yes. Dogs can eat pure vanilla in moderation, though they have no nutritional value. However, pay attention as dogs must not eat vanilla extract where alcohol is added during the extraction process. Thus, feeding vanilla extract leads to alcohol poisoning in dogs causing vomiting, diarrhea, problems with movement coordination, and breathing issues. In addition, you should avoid processed and baked food with vanilla extract as they contain sugar and artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which are highly toxic to dogs.
What is Vanilla?
Vanilla is a spice obtained from the pods of the Mexican species, flat-leaved vanilla. Pollination plays a significant role in producing the fruit from which the vanilla spice is procured. However, this didn’t help the cultivators financially. In 1841, Edmond Albius, a 12- year old slave child, uncovered that the plant could be hand-pollinated. This helped in the global cultivation of the plant. Three major species of vanilla are grown globally. Presently, vanilla is the second-most expensive spice after saffron. Cultivation of vanilla seed pods is labor-intensive. However, vanilla is used widely in commercial and domestic baking, perfume production, and aromatherapy.
Vanilla Nutritional Value
Vanilla is not a great addition to dogs’ health but contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. For example, a 3.5 oz of vanilla contains the below nutritional value:
Is Vanilla Safe for Dogs?
Pure vanilla is safe, harmless, and has minimal health benefits for your pet. However, vanilla extract is highly toxic and leads to death. Vanilla beans are dried and are used in various forms. Glide down the article to know the safe ways of offering vanilla to your pet:
Vanilla Beans: Vanilla pods are sleek and long, containing many seeds. These pods can be purchased as a whole, and the seeds can be scraped off and used as a natural flavoring. Again, this is safe for your dogs to consume minimally. If your dog accidentally chews a vanilla pod, it is unlikely to cause problems other than an upset stomach.
Vanilla Powder: The beans are finely grounded, and this powder is a natural sweetener. Dogs can eat them in small amounts occasionally.
Vanilla Extract: Vanilla pods are soaked in water and alcohol to get a concentrated liquid solution, known as vanilla extract. Vanilla extract and flavors may cause serious health issues due to alcohol content. Hence, cakes and sweets are not recommended for dog consumption. Baked goods contain high quantities of sugar, artificial sweeteners like xylitol, and alcohol which are lethal for dogs.
Vanilla Bean Paste: Vanilla powder and concentrated vanilla extract are blended to get this paste. It is used in desserts, shakes, and icecreams. Pay attention to the ingredients and avoid this, as the extract causes alcohol poisoning in your pet.
Vanilla Flavoring: Similar to vanilla extract but with a difference: vanilla flavoring is prepared by soaking the vanilla pods in propylene glycol instead of alcohol. Vanilla flavoring is poisonous to a dog’s health and so keep it at bay.
In a few dog treats, you may find vanilla extract as an ingredient labeled as “alcohol-free extract.” However, these extracts use vegetable glycerin instead of ethanol during the extraction process. Alcohol-free vanilla extracts are odorless, colorless, and non-toxic. In addition, they are present in small quantities, add sweetness to dog foods, and are less harmful. Hence, vanilla in dog treats is safe for dogs to consume.
Vegetable glycerin is also safe for dog consumption, making alcohol-free vanilla extracts too non-toxic for them. Primarily, commercial dog foods use this as it acts as a perfect binding agent and gives a chewy consistency as preferred by your pets.
Why Is Vanilla Good for Dogs?
Pure vanilla is perfectly safe for dogs and offers the most negligible health benefits. Vanilla contains antioxidants that prevent cell damage, the leading cause of cancer. It also helps to improve a dog’s memory and cognition.
However, the amount of vanilla used in the cakes or any other food is minimal and does not offer any benefit to dogs.
Why Is Vanilla Bad for Dogs?
While pure vanilla is safe for dogs, vanilla extract is toxic and causes health hazards. Vanilla extract and flavors contain alcohol and can be deadly for dogs when consumed. If your dogs ingest large amounts of baked goods, it may cause severe symptoms and can be fatal. Baked foods are rich in sugar leading to the following health hazards in dogs:
- Dental issues
- Stomach upset
The severity of the symptoms depends on the type and size of the dog. Alcohol gets absorbed into the dog’s body quickly, and the effects can be seen within 30-60 minutes. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe to life-threatening. They are:
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory issues
- Slow heart rate
How much Vanilla to feed your dog?
Dogs can consume a little pure vanilla or a few pieces of vanilla pods. These are safe and do not cause severe health concerns except an upset stomach. However, vanilla extract, flavors, and baked goods with vanilla extract contain alcohol content and should not be consumed by dogs.
How to serve Vanilla to your dog?
Vanilla has a strong flavor, and the best way is to feed your dog homemade dog treats. Dog-friendly homemade ice cream with vanilla flavoring is a refreshing treat your dog will love. Below is a small recipe for homemade ice cream.
- Mix yogurt and peanut butter
- Add vanilla
- Blend thoroughly
- Place the mixture in molds
- Freeze for a few hours
- Frozen yogurt homemade ice cream with vanilla is ready.
Alternatives To Vanilla
You should provide your dog with healthy food for a happy lifestyle. Here are a few healthy alternatives for your dog:
- Sweet potato
- Baked, deboned fish
- Chicken broth
- Chicken bone broth
- Peanut butter
What if My Dog Ate Vanilla?
If your dog eats vanilla extract, visit your vet immediately who removes toxins from the dog’s stomach. The vet induces vomiting if your pet doesn’t show symptoms due to alcohol poisoning. Extreme conditions in your dog after consuming vanilla are treated by intubation and administering anti-seizure medicines.
Hence, if your dog has eaten a small amount of food with vanilla extract or flavors, look for any symptoms and note them down. Contact your vet to avoid any adverse effects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can dogs eat vanilla yogurt?
Yes, dogs can eat vanilla yogurt occasionally as a dog treat. Still, avoid it if the recipe contains xylitol.
Can dogs eat vanilla cake?
No, vanilla cakes and any baked food must not be consumed by dogs as they cause severe health issues.
Can dogs eat vanilla ice cream?
Yes, dogs can eat homemade vanilla ice cream made with natural yogurt.
Pure vanilla is safe for dogs, while vanilla flavors and extracts are toxic. Dogs can eat small amounts of homemade treats with vanilla flavoring. However, dogs should not be allowed to eat cakes and baked and processed food with vanilla extracts as they contain alcohol. This leads to severe conditions and can be fatal. Always contact your vet immediately to avoid any extreme conditions.