Did you know that the idea of pop tarts actually came from dog food? That doesn’t mean that it is similar to dog food but the idea of having a snack that is semi-moist didn’t require any form of refrigeration. That made eating pop tarts really convenient.
I love my pop tarts. Some of the flavors are really unique and yummy. My dog can attest to that too when he tries to sneak a bite. But can dogs eat pop tarts?
Pop tarts might not consist of ingredients that are outright toxic or poisonous to dogs but these snacks are high in carbohydrates, fats and sugar. These macronutrients are not healthy for dogs and should only be consumed in very limited quantities. Some pop tarts may have flavorings that can be toxic to your dog.
Let us take a closer look at what goes into the making of pop tarts and if it’s a good idea for dog owners to let their dogs eat them.
What Exactly Are Pop Tarts?
Pop tarts have been an iconic snack in the United States since the 1960s. The concept and design of pop tarts are actually very simple.
Squeeze some sweet tasty filling between two thin pastry crusts and sell them together to form a tiny dessert pie. What really makes pop tarts stand out from so many other snacks would the endless range of flavors.
You can your classic flavors like brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts, chocolate pop tarts and really weird ones like pumpkin pie pop tarts. My all-time favorite would be frosted strawberry pop tarts.
The great thing about pop tarts is that they are already pre-baked. So all you have to do is rip the aluminum wrapping apart and gobble down the tart.
If you like your pop tarts warm, like me, you can heat up the pop tart in the toaster or microwave.
Nutritional Value Of Pop Tarts
You definitely won’t hear dieticians tell you that “A pop tart a day, keeps the doctor away”. It is basically a sweet treat that is high in processed sugar and carbs.
One packet of pop tarts contains:
- 370 calories
- 70g carbohydrates
- 30g sugar
- 320mg sodium
The common ingredients are:
- Enriched flour
- High fructose corn syrup
- Soya bean/Palm oil
- Bleached wheat flour
Are Pop Tarts Bad For Dogs?
To thoroughly answer this question, we will need to understand the effect these ingredients can have on our dogs.
I wouldn’t exactly label the ingredients as toxic but frequent consumption wouldn’t do your dog and even us any good.
Enriched flour is one of the main ingredients that goes into the making of pop tarts. Enriched flour is actually flour that has minerals and nutrients like iron, vitamin B, folic acid, etc, added to it.
To be technically correct, these ‘healthy components’ were actually removed during the processing and refinement stages and re-added at a later stage.
The above processes strip the flour of a lot of its natural goodness which can’t be made up for.
Feeding your dog enriched flour, it is eating a substandard type of flour that is very high in sugar.
Enriched flour also has gluten which can stick to your dog’s intestinal walls and prevent the proper absorption of food in its actual diet.
Bleached Wheat Flour
Another type of flour that pop tarts contain is bleached wheat flour. The natural color of flour is an off-white color. Such a color can make certain foods look less appetizing.
To combat this, food manufacturers have started to bleach the flour with chlorine and benzoyl peroxide to further process the flour and turn it as white as snow.
This is the reason why anything processed is bad for us and our pets due to the use of harsh chemicals.
It might not seem like much but no one really knows the long-term effects such bleached flour can have on our dog’s health.
In the medical world, the most popular saying amongst doctors is always “Prevention is better than cure”.
Too Much Sugar
What makes pop tarts so deliciously addictive are the interesting flavors and sweetness. Sugar is addictive. That’s the reason why it is so hard to stop after that first bite of chocolate cake or ice cream.
Princeton University conducted a study on the effects of sugar on lab animals. It was found that these animals ended up consuming more sugar after being denied sugar for a period of time.
Unlike cats, your dog’s tastebuds allows it to taste sweetness which means that the risk of it getting addicted to sweet treats is also a lot higher.
And if there’s one thing that pop tarts have a lot of is sugar content like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and sugar.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener that is derived from corn syrup. It is considered to be a lot sweeter than regular sugar.
When consumed, HFCS goes straight to the liver which can lead to a fatty liver. A high sugar diet for dogs can lead to:
- Heart disease
If you do give your dog some agave syrup as a treat, make sure to limit the amount as it contains a high amount of sugar even though it might seem healthier.
Dextrose is a sugar that is very similar to glucose. Not only does dextrose helps to sweeten up the food, it also acts as a natural preservative to keep the food fresh on the shelf.
Dextrose isn’t just used for food but also in the medical world. It is applied intravenously to dogs with very low blood sugar or having a diabetic episode.
This type of sugar is very effective for such situations because it is very quickly absorbed by the dog’s body.
However, spiking your dog’s sugar level so suddenly in a healthy dog can lead to a sugar crash shortly after. It is the same feeling you get after eating an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream all by yourself.
Similar to high fructose corn syrup, too much dextrose can also lead to canine obesity and all the health issues that come with it.
Soya Bean/Palm Oil
Cooking oils in general are safe for dogs but not all types of oils are made equal. Vegetable oils that are made from corn and soy aren’t very healthy for dogs due to many dogs having allergic reactions
Healthy alternatives would be olive oil, flax seed oil and fish oil which contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that help to improve your dog’s coat and skin quality.
This chemical compound is definitely quite a tongue twister but it is said to be commonly found in many popular snacks, even pop tarts.
TBHQ helps to prolong the freshness of these snacks but it can also have an adverse effect on our immune systems.
There are some guidelines as to how much TBHQ can be used in food before it starts to be toxic and cancer-causing.
Although TBHQ is deemed safe for consumption, a study claims that it can cause stomach cancer in animals.
Will A Chocolate Pop Tart Hurt A Dog?
Of all the pop tart flavors that you can feed your dog, anything that has chocolate should never be given to your dog.
There are many chocolate flavored pop tarts available and chocolate contains a chemical compound called Theobromine which dogs are not able to break down.
The darker the chocolate, the more toxic and dangerous it will be for dogs. The common symptoms of chocolate toxicity in dogs are:
- Heart failure
If your dog has eaten anything chocolate based, please get it to the vet right away for treatment.
Can Dogs Eat Strawberry Pop Tarts?
If your dog wants to have a strawberry pop tart, make sure to give it a small piece as a very special treat. Do not feed your dog the entire serving as that just contains too much carbohydrates and sugar. Excess sugar in your dog’s diet can cause diabetes, obesity and pancreatitis.
Can Dogs Eat Frosted Blueberry Pop Tarts?
You should never feed your dog blueberry pop tarts as it contains dried grapes as one of the ingredients. Grapes are highly toxic to dogs and it can just take one grape to be fatal. The common symptoms of grape toxicity are loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and kidney failure.
What Sweets Are Dogs Allowed To Eat?
The best kind of sweet treats for your dog are those with their own natural sweetness like pumpkin, sweet potato and fruits. It is better to avoid food items that are heavy in sugar or added sugar. But always make sure to moderate how much sweet treats you give your dog to prevent health problems.
A healthier option would be to make your own sweet treats for your dog at home. Bake for your dog something yummy like vanilla wafers or dog biscuits where you can control the quality of the ingredients.
What Do I Do If My Dog Ate A Pop Tart?
I wouldn’t be overly concerned if my dog eat a pop tart. Most dogs can handle such a sweet treat without much problem.
However, if your dog ate a pop tart flavor that can be potentially toxic like chocolate or blackberry, it would strongly recommend that you take your dog to the vet just to be safe.