Ain’t gonna lie, I love bubble tea and I feel incomplete without having my boba milk tea fix at least once every few days.
The thing which I enjoy most about this drink is the boba pearls. They add texture and fullness to the bubble tea. I’ve heard of some dog owners actually letting their dogs eat some of the boba pearls as well.
Should dogs eat boba pearls from a boba tea drink?
Dogs should not be eating boba pearls as they are high in sugar and carbohydrates. Such food items are not suitable for dogs. Dogs should not be drinking boba tea too as the added flavorings and ingredients can be toxic for dogs.
In this article, let us take a closer look at what boba pearls actually are and why they don’t make a good treat for our dogs.
What Are Boba Pearls?
You might be scratching your head over the term ‘boba pearls’. It is more commonly known as the ‘pearls’ in a bubble tea pearl milk tea drink.
This drink originated in Taiwan more than 15 years ago and is widely popular in most parts of Asia.
It has recently started to gain popularity in America and Europe over the recent years.
Boba pearls can technically be called cassava starch balls as they are made from cassava which is a root vegetable from South America. Cassava is also known as yuca.
Yuca is not to be confused with yucca which is a flowering plant and the root of this plant contains a natural steroid that is highly toxic to both cats and dogs.
Boba pearls are also known as tapioca pearls as tapioca flour is made from cassava root.
Please keep your pets away from any yucca plants and do not feed them yucca-based products.
How Is Boba Tea Made?
Booba tea is basically made from black, red or green tea. It is most commonly drank with milk hence the name boba milk tea drink. However, for those that prefer their boba tea without milk, there is such an option as well.
Boba tea is usually drunk with a thicker straw that allows you to suck up all the tapioca pearls lying around at the bottom.
Boba stalls are getting more creative these days.
Many are offering interesting fruit tea flavors like passionfruit, strawberry, mango, lychee, etc. For the health-conscious, you can even decide on the amount of sugar to be added to your boba drink.
Although not widely available, sugar-free bubble tea can be found at some boba drink stalls.
Can Dogs Eat Boba Pearls?
When it comes to eating boba pearls, it is generally safe for dogs. Tapioca is often used in dog food for fiber and as a binder.
However, you have to make sure that the boba pearls are made from 100% tapioca and with no other added ingredients.
And never feed your dog raw tapioca as it contains cyanide which can destroy your dog’s tissue cells.
There are some pearls that we call popping boba. They are filled with ingredients like fruit juices are artificial flavorings that can pop when eaten.
When dogs eat popping boba, they will also ingest whatever is inside them. It is hard to tell what are the exact ingredients used for the fillings.
Whatever I’m not too sure about, I won’t feed my dog to prevent any risk of accidental poisoning.
Even though these pearls are safe for dogs, your canine friend should not be eating too many tapioca pearls.
These tapioca pearls are very calorie-dense and can contain a high level of sugar and carbohydrates.
Risk Of Eating Too Many Tapioca Peals
Eating a couple of tapioca pearls ain’t going to do any harm to your dog, the problem arises if your dog has eaten a large amount like a big bowl worth of pearls.
Here are some of the possible health risks:
If you have ever eaten tapioca pearls before, you’ll notice that it has a sticky and chewy texture.
A great addition to a drink but can pose as a choking hazard to dogs and young kids.
Dogs don’t chew their food.
All they do when eating is use their sharp teeth to tear meat from bones and swallow it whole. The digestive acid in their stomachs will do the rest of the job.
When eaten in a large amount at once, the sticky texture of the pearls can cause them to lump together and cause a blockage in the upper airway of the dog.
Even though a large amount of ingested tapioca pearls has made it safely down your dog’s esophagus, there is still a risk of intestinal obstruction.
Here are some symptoms:
- Stomach painful to the touch
The sticky texture can cause the pears to get stuck in your dog’s intestines.
When this happens, it can lead to a whole lot of issues like canine bloating. This is when the dog’s stomach gets bloated from food, gas or fluid and folds onto itself.
It is very dangerous and can be fatal to dogs.
If you place a few of these tapioca pearls in a bowl of water, you’ll be surprised by how absorbent they can be.
Imagine a large chuck of pearls in your dog’s stomach and intestines.
They will be absorbing most of the available moisture in that area which can give make your dog constipated. It will be similar to your dog swallowing silica gel.
A dog that is constipated will have a hard time with its bowel movements and might require medical treatment if it is serious.
Some home remedies like using Miralax can also work for dogs and cats with less severe constipation.
Lead To Weight Gain
Tapioca pearls are made with tapioca flour which is just pure carbohydrates. Many dog owners make the mistake of adding too much carbs to their dog foods.
This isn’t healthy for dogs as they do not require this macronutrient in their diet.
Dogs are natural carnivores which makes them meat-eaters. The main macronutrient which a dog needs is just protein.
In fact, your dog will be totally fine if you never feed it a single gram of carbohydrate ever again.
Additional carbs in their diet will only lead to weight gain and canine obesity. Studies have shown that more than 56% of the dogs in America are overweight.
Dogs that are not of a healthy weight are at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Furthermore, dogs don’t do a good job of breaking down carbs which can lead to tummy upsets.
Can Dogs Drink Boba Bubble Tea?
Although the tapioca pearls in bubble tea are usually safe enough for dogs, I will definitely not let my dog consume the drink itself for the following reasons:
Tea Has Caffeine
In this fast-paced world, not many people can function without some caffeine in their system. Not having that first cup of coffee or tea in the morning is sacrilegious to many.
The good thing is that our dogs do not require caffeine to start off their day. All they require is a good meal, some hugs and they are good to go.
Even if your dog likes the taste of coffee or tea, you should not let it have any because caffeine is toxic to dogs.
As a matter of fact, tea has more caffeine than coffee per mg.
The reason why we tend to feel more ‘awake’ after our coffee and tea is because of caffeine which is a stimulant.
Our dogs and cats do not handle the effects of caffeine well due to how sensitive their bodies are.
A little lick of your boba milk tea won’t hurt your dog but if it drinks a large amount, the chance of caffeine toxicity is high.
Symptoms of caffeine toxicity are:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased heart rate
Caffeine toxicity can happen as soon as 30 minutes and can last for almost half a day.
Your dog needs to see the veterinarian immediately for treatment. IV fluids will be administered to your dog for hydration together with medication to stabilize the blood pressure and heartbeat.
Dogs Are Lactose Intolerant
Besides the presence of caffeine in the drink, it is more common to drink it with milk than without.
Boba milk tea contains a large percentage of milk which isn’t suitable for your dog.
This is because a large majority of dogs are lactose intolerant. They lack the necessary enzyme to break down the lactose in milk.
Contrary to what the media portrays, feeding milk to your dog can set its bowel in overdrive. The only time when dogs are good with milk is when they need their mother’s milk.
As they get older, their bodies will no longer require milk and therefore do away with the ability to digest it.
The most common side effects of ingesting milk are vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs are very sensitive to dairy and can have more severe allergic reactions.
These dogs need to see a vet for treatment. Otherwise, the side effects will pass after a day or two.
High Sugar Content
Unless you order a boba milk tea without any sugar in it, the default order will have some sugar content in it.
Similar to tapioca pearls, having a small amount of milk tea isn’t going to do much harm to your dog.
However, if your dog drinks it as often as you and in large amounts, that is definitely too much sugar for your dog.
Dogs do not need anything else in their diet besides protein. High sugar content for dogs can lead to health problems like canine diabetes, obesity and heart problems.
There might be some boba milk tea stalls that offer sugar-free boba teas for people with health conditions.
Even though the drink does not contain natural sugar, they might add artificial sweeteners to give the drink a sweet taste.
There has been a lot of debate about the dangers of artificial sweeteners for humans. The rule of thumb is that a small amount won’t do much harm to us.
When it comes to dogs, a small amount of artificial sweeteners can be extremely toxic to them.
There is a compound called xylitol which is present in many of these sweeteners. You can even find it used in our toothpastes and xylitol is extremely toxic to cats and dogs.
When xylitol is ingested by the dog, it is rapidly absorbed into the system. This causes the pancreas to secrete an overdose of insulin into the bloodstream.
When this happens, it can cause your dog’s sugar levels to crash (hypoglycemia) and can result in acute liver failure.
If your dog has eaten anything that contains artificial sweeteners, your dog needs medical treatment as soon as possible.
This condition can be made worse if your dog is already hypoglycemic.
Walk into most boba milk tea drink stalls and you will be bombarded by the huge variety of available flavors.
I myself have come across many flavors that I have never heard of.
Many of these flavors are achieved by adding flavored syrup to the drink.
It might not seem dangerous to your dog at first glance but some of these flavors can contain chemical compounds that might be toxic to your dog.
Not every ‘seaweed passionfruit and raspberry swirl boba’ tea will be flavored by natural ingredients. There’s no telling what chemicals were used to make these flavors.
There’s no point risking your dog’s health just to let it try some exotic boba drink flavor.
Can Dogs Eat Sago?
Sago is another popular dessert ingredient that can also be added to boba tea or other desserts. It is starch that is made from the pith of tropical palms like the sago palm.
The thing about the sago palm is that it is highly toxic to both pets and humans. Special processes must be taken to remove the toxins from the starch.
The end product is safe for human consumption.
However, I would not feed any sago-based food products to my pet knowing how toxic sago palm is. There’s no telling how sensitive your dog can be to sago itself.
If you have a sago palm at home or in your garden, it would be best to get rid of it is highly toxic to pets.
Dogs especially seem to find this plant tasty and won’t hesitate to take a bite.
Just a small amount is poisonous enough to cause serious liver damage with a high likelihood of death.
Your plain boba milk tea with tapioca might seem harmless enough to feed your dog but it is hard to tell what actually goes into making all the ingredients.
I tend to refrain from feeding my dog human food that can contain anything which might be toxic to him.
Even in trace amounts, some dogs can be highly sensitive to the ingredient.
If your dog has eaten something which it shouldn’t or is showing adverse symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately.
Being prompt in such matters can end up saving your dog’s life.