As a true blue snacker, I would have to say that vanilla wafers are grossly unappreciated. It might not have the same popularity as chocolate chip cookies, but the rich buttery taste peppered with notes of vanilla makes vanilla wafers a great addition to any dessert.
I might be overthinking it but I do think my dog has a special love for vanilla wafers. He will sit at my feet and try to win me over with his puppy dog eyes and whimpers until I feed him one. But with dogs, one is never enough but can dogs eat vanilla wafers?
Dogs can eat vanilla wafers but only in small quantities. Vanilla wafers are high in sugar and fat which are not healthy for dogs. Too much sugar and fat in your dog’s diet can lead to health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Only feed your dog vanilla wafers as an infrequent treat.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the individual ingredients that go into making vanilla wafers and why they can be bad for our dogs.
What Are Vanilla Wafers?
Vanilla wafers are actually vanilla-flavored biscuits or cookies that are widely eaten as a snack or with other desserts like ice cream and vanilla pudding. It was created in the late 19th century by a German American who then sold the recipe to Nabisco.
These days, vanilla wafers are sold under the brand of Nilla wafers which you might heard of or tried before.
The main ingredients of vanilla wafers are usually:
- Sugar (high fructose corn syrup)
- Vanilla extract
- Baking Soda
The ingredients used are simple but taste really together once the wafers are ready to eat. As safe as the ingredients are for human consumption, they might not be as safe for our dogs.
Our dogs have very sensitive systems and it might not take a large amount of a specific ingredient to trigger an adverse reaction.
You can’t bake without using some type of flour and flour is made from finely ground grains or starchy plant-based matter.
One cup of flour has close to 450 calories. Nutritional value wise it contains:
- 96g of carbohydrates
- 12.9g of protein
- 3.4g of fiber
- 1.2g of fat
It also contains trace amounts of thiamine, folate and selenium.
Flour by itself isn’t bad for dogs. In fact, there are numerous dog treats and dog biscuits that use flour as one of the ingredients. The reason why flour isn’t healthy for dogs is due to the high carbohydrate content.
Our dogs evolve from wolves which makes them carnivores. Carnivores are creatures that need protein from animal meat to thrive.
In times when food is scarce, dogs can become opportunistic scavengers and eat up almost anything, even meat that is spoiled.
The good thing is, food isn’t in limited supply for our dogs hence their diet should consist primarily of animal meat.
Dogs that consume too much carbs in their diet are at risk of putting on too much weight and getting fat. More than half of pet dogs in America are considered to be overweight.
Having an overweight dog isn’t healthy and can lead to many health problems like:
- Heart disease
- Mobility issues
- Urinary bladder stones
Some dog owners might consider having a ‘chonky’ pet to be adorable but they are doing more harm than good to the poor dog.
Vanilla wafers aren’t as delicious if they aren’t sweet which makes sugar another major ingredient. Similar to carbs, sugar is something that your dog doesn’t need.
I can empathize with another fellow dog owner’s need for a sugar rush but sugar for dogs isn’t necessary at all.
Although sugar can be classified as carbs, it is a more refined and processed type of carbohydrate that is metabolized differently by the body.
Processed sugars get absorbed a lot faster and tend to cause our blood sugar levels to fluctuate too much which results in ‘sugar crashes’.
Too much sweet stuff in your dog’s diet can cause problems like:
- Canine obesity
- Oral disease
- Stomach upset
Some carbohydrates in your dog’s diet is fine but do try to keep sweet stuff to a minimum like feeding your dog blueberry pie.
Take a whiff of vanilla wafers and you can smell that rich buttery aroma in each wafer. Butter is used to make the biscuits taste light, tender and flakey.
Dogs can eat butter but it isn’t something that I would give my dog in large amounts. For one, butter contains a lot of fat which can cause weight gain and health problems.
Another reason is that butter is a dairy product and most dogs are lactose intolerant. Puppies can handle milk a lot better than adult dogs as they have enzymes to break down lactose in milk.
However, a dog’s milk has a lot less lactose as compared to cow’s milk so don’t go feeding your puppies that. They need their mother’s milk or a special milk formula meant for puppies.
As dogs get older, they lose the ability to digest milk and can show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, bloating and tummy pain when consuming milk.
Baking soda can be toxic to dogs when eaten in large quantities. Baking soda toxicity can occur when a dog eats about 22-40g of baking soda per pound of body weight.
This would mean that an average-sized dog would have to eat almost a full small box of baking soda to experience some side effects.
Realistically speaking, it is a lot of baking powder for a dog to eat but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has happened before if the dog happens to go nuts over it.
Symptoms of baking soda toxicity include:
- Difficulty breathing
It would be good to keep baking soda in the cupboard or high shelf where your dog can’t get it.
Can Dogs Have Vanilla?
It depends on the form of vanilla that your dog is eating. Natural pure vanilla from the pod is fine. Your dog would have to ingest large amounts of natural vanilla to get a tummy upset.
The most dangerous form of vanilla is vanilla extract which contains at least 35% alcohol. That is almost like drinking whiskey. These are sold in small bottles that you can buy from most supermarkets.
When ingested, alcohol toxicity is very dangerous for dogs and cats as their livers are not designed to process alcohol like ours.
Even a small amount can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and seizures. It is safer for dogs to eat vanilla wafers with vanilla extract that has already been baked as the alcohol would have evaporated in the cooking process.
Healthier Alternative To Vanilla Wafers
If your dog likes vanilla sugar wafers and you do not wish to feed your dog the commercial ones then baking your own will be the best option.
Vanilla wafer recipes are a dime a dozen on the internet but there are a few important considerations to make when baking these cookies at home.
- Don’t use processed flour
- Do not add any sugar
- NEVER use artificial sweeteners
- No salt
- No artificial flavors
- Non-dairy butter
One thing that I would like to stress is never to use or let your dog eat any form of artificial sweeteners. These fake sweeteners contain a compound called xylitol which is very toxic to both dogs and cats.
Once ingested, xylitol can cause your pet’s blood sugar levels to plummet and become hypoglycaemic. This can lead to seizures and unconsciousness. In more severe cases, the dog can even die from it.
Can Dogs Eat Strawberry Wafer Cookies?
It would largely depend on the ingredients that are used to make the strawberry wafer cookies. If you are buying strawberry wafer cookies off the shelf that contain many unheard of ingredients then it would be best to not feed your dog any.
But if you are feeding your dog strawberry jelly that is spread on homemade mini vanilla wafers, that sounds more like a healthier option.
Can Dogs Have Cookies?
I do feel that the majority of cookies that are commercially sold aren’t really good for dogs. They contain a lot of fat and sugar together with other toxic ingredients like chocolate.
Even cookies that might be safe for dogs to eat can contribute to unhealthy weight gain over time. I would pick healthy dog biscuits over cookies for my dog.
Can Dogs Have Plain Wafers?
Plain wafers are safer for dogs to eat due to the lack of artificial flavors and sugar. Anything that is plain and unsweetened or unsalted will always be a healthier option to feed our dogs. Even with healthier man-made snacks, you still need to moderate the amount that you feed your dog.
If your dog has eaten a large amount fo vanilla wafers, I would be concerned. However, nature has given dogs a natural defense mechanism of getting rid of anything bad either by vomiting or by diarrhea.
But if your dog has eaten something that contains a toxic ingredient, you should take it to the vet for a proper examination just to be safe.