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The short answer to this is yes, as long as you only give your dog graham crackers as very occasional treats. But the question you probably should be asking is not “can dogs eat graham crackers”, but rather, whether or not they should.
Since they’re intended to be human snacks, graham crackers tend to contain sugar, salt, and fats in amounts that can be too much for a dog’s body.
There are a few health benefits to graham crackers, but there are other healthy snacks that offer a better cost-benefit ratio. Let’s take a look at the risks and benefits of letting dogs eat graham crackers.
Benefits of Letting Dogs Eat Graham Crackers
There are a few components in graham crackers that can be considered beneficial to a dog’s health. Keep in mind however that these beneficial substances only make up a small percentage of a graham cracker’s contents.
Graham crackers contain folic acid
Graham crackers contain a somewhat significant amount of folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, which is essential for maintaining a dog’s metabolism. While there are better supplements to combat folic acid deficiency, eating graham crackers certainly helps a little bit.
Graham crackers are made with canola oil
Canola oil contains an omega-3 fatty acid known as linoleic acid, which is great for keeping fur shiny and skin moist. The alpha-linoleic acid in canola oil also keeps omega-6 fatty acids in check, ensuring that their antibiotic properties don’t backfire and harm the body.
Why Graham Crackers Can Be Harmful to Your Dog
Since the beneficial substances in graham crackers are only present in small quantities, they are far outweighed by the risk factors at play
This is perhaps the number one issue with graham crackers for dogs, especially in the flavored ones. The average rectangular graham cracker contains around 59 calories, of which 10.4 grams are carbs. 4.4 grams of those carbs are sugar.
Too much sugar can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system by causing upset stomach, bloating, and even diarrhea.
Not to mention that sugary foods will also cause damage to a dog’s teeth and overall oral health.
But even if your dog manages to weather all of this, having too many graham crackers contributes to an increased likelihood of becoming overweight or developing diabetes in dogs. Dogs that aren’t very active are the most affected, so know how much exercise a dog needs and give exactly that to your pet.
Aside from weight gain, graham crackers can also result in heightened blood sugar and potential metabolic disorders, primarily diabetes.
A single graham cracker contains, on average, 21.3 mg of sodium. That’s around 470 mg per 100 grams.
Now, while that’s within the average dog’s salt threshold of 250 mg to 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams of food, it can still throw off the balance of sodium inside a dog’s body.
Salt toxicity can occur once sodium reaches a concentration of more than 2 grams per kilogram of a dog’s body weight . You can get a similar outcome by feeding them more than a small amount of pepperoni. Because of the relatively high concentration of salt in every graham cracker, unchecked feeding of graham crackers can lead to too much salt in their system, and eventually either sodium poisoning or urinary tract diseases.
Allergic reactions to wheat
Wheat allergy is one of the most common types of dog allergy. They can also turn out to have gluten intolerance, which means they’ll have a lot of difficulty digesting gluten.
Graham flour is usually unbleached, which means that it’s “stronger” than flour used for cookies, pastries, biscuits, and the like. This kind of wheat flour has more wheat protein, which is what triggers wheat allergy, and more gluten, which does a gluten-intolerant dog no favors.
Palm oil can be harmful to dogs
More graham crackers than ever are being made with palm oil, which have a history of making a few dogs seriously ill. While your pet may not suffer the same effects, it still poses a lot of potential harm to their bodies such as pancreatitis, diarrhea, dehydration, and a general feeling of being ill.
Best Practices in Feeding Dogs Graham Crackers
Pay attention to flavors and nutrition facts
Graham crackers come in lots of flavors, from chocolate graham crackers to cinnamon graham crackers. These are the first things you should check. It’s common knowledge that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, so chocolate-flavored anything is absolutely out of the question.
Non-toxic flavors like peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon graham crackers are safe to eat, but you should still check the nutrition facts of the particular brand of graham cracker you purchased. A product with too many calories or artificial sweetener shouldn’t be something that you feed to your dog on a regular basis.
Oftentimes, plain graham crackers would be the safest bet.
Portion correctly and monitor how they react
In order to responsibly feed your dog graham crackers, you need to pay attention to the amount of sugar and salt they’ve consumed so far throughout the day. If they’re currently at a relative deficit of sugar, salt, and calories, it should be safe to feed them a few crackers.
You can establish a good baseline of how much they’ve eaten by weighing the amount of dog food that goes in an entire bowlful and checking that against the product’s nutrition facts.
Then you can just google the nutritional value of other treats and food items you give them to keep track of what your dog eats. There are a few apps you can download that help you do this more easily.
Seek healthier alternatives
As we’ve mentioned, perhaps the most appropriate question to ask is not “can dogs eat graham crackers”, but whether or not they should. The best way to avoid the health risks of snacking on graham crackers is to eat healthier snacks instead.
A great example of a healthy alternative to graham crackers is baked sweet potatoes. You can make these into chews or thick chips for a better munching experience. The best thing about these is that they’re naturally sweet treats without having to make use of artificial sugar.
Dogs can also eat a very broad selection of fruits to get their sweets fix, such as nectarines. Some of these fruits even have their own crunchy texture that your dog might even grow to prefer over that of a graham cracker.
Otherwise, you can always make your own dog treats, such as doggy biscuits with a sweet spin to them, to satisfy your dog’s sweet cravings while keeping your dog’s diet safely balanced.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if my dog eat graham crackers?
Eating one or two graham crackers won’t necessarily be bad for your dog. Graham crackers have relatively high sugar and salt content so eating too many of them can offset an otherwise balanced diet. It’s a different story if your dog has gluten intolerance or wheat allergies, however. Plus, if the brand of graham cracker you bought uses a lot of palm oil, that could make them sick.
Will honey graham crackers hurt dogs?
Honey graham crackers just have a bit more sugar than most varieties of graham cracker. As long as you monitor your dog’s sugar consumption and keep it at a controllable level, feeding them a few honey graham crackers shouldn’t hurt.
Do graham crackers give dogs diarrhea?
That depends on the content of the graham crackers. Graham crackers are usually high in sugar, so too much of them can upset a dog’s stomach enough to cause diarrhea. If the brand you feed them is high in palm oil, that could also give them diarrhea.
What kind of crackers can dogs eat?
Plain crackers are the best kind to feed dogs because of their relatively low sugar and sodium content. But for best results and eating pleasure, you might want to look into baking your own doggy crackers.