Can Dogs Eat Vanilla? What About Vanilla Ice Cream?

can dogs eat vanilla

Summer without the major staple ice cream flavors is unimaginable. But before your dog’s get in on the action, you might be wondering if dogs can have vanilla flavored anything, from yogurt to jelly to pudding. The answer is yes, dogs can eat vanilla flavored foods, if the added vanilla content is highly diluted.

Whether your dog can eat vanilla flavored food or not depends very closely on what the food is, what kind of vanilla flavoring is used in it, and how much vanilla flavoring is present in the food.

Can Dogs Have Vanilla Extract?

On its own, vanilla is not problematic for dogs. But this is in its purest form. Vanilla is extracted from the beans of a flowering Orchid plant. These beans contain the compound Vanillin, which gives us the flavor and aroma we all know and love.

Vanilla beans are harvested and fermented, and although they are safe for dogs in this form, it’s unlikely that your dog will ever eat them at this stage. It’s only once these beans are turned into extract that they become commercially available.

But treated beans and vanilla extract both are not safe for dogs, because they are mixed with high proof alcohol and sugar, to give it that traditional aroma and intensified flavor. With almost 33% ethanol content by volume, and a very high concentration of cane sugar in the mix, vanilla is toxic for dogs if consumed directly.

Is Vanilla Bad for Dogs?

On its own, vanilla is not bad for dogs. The untreated beans or pods do not cause any toxic effects in dogs, even if consumed. But the additives in the process of turning vanilla beans into vanilla extract makes the solution toxic to dogs.

Is Vanilla Extract Safe for Dogs?

Vanilla extract is most definitely not safe for dogs. Depending upon the purity of the vanilla extract, the solution can be made up of up to 35 to 40% alcohol by volume. For example, bourbon vanilla uses ethanol. The addition of alcohol to the vanilla extract makes the vanilla flavor stronger and adds more dimension, which is why the beans are steeped in the alcohol.

Vanilla extracts that are commercially available also contain added sugars or sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. This is where the problem starts for dogs. Even high end or so-called pure vanilla extracts can rely on corn syrup for sweetness.

Added to the mix are food colorings and preservatives like sodium benzoate, and propylene glycol. Not only are some of these carcinogenic in the long term for your dog, but also have unpleasant effects on his health in the short term.

Vanilla extract present in a piece of cake or a small serving of flavored vanilla ice cream is not enough to damage your dog’s liver. However, if your dog were to accidentally get his snout into a bottle of vanilla extract, that could have lethal consequences for him.

The alcohol content in vanilla extract can cause alcohol poisoning in dogs.  And not just that, the alcohol can also trigger metabolic pathways leading to cardiac failure, respiratory failure, and serious nervous system damage. Even half an ounce of alcohol is enough to warrant your dog being rushed to the emergency vet. 

Is Vanilla Safe for Dogs?

In a way, yes. The vanilla extract content present in commercially available puddings, ice creams, cakes, or other sweet treats is not enough to trigger violent reactions in dogs. This is because only a few drops are added to the preparations before cooking or for mild flavoring.

In that regard vanilla is safe for dogs: in extremely small concentrations and given infrequently.

Can Dogs Eat Vanilla Extract Without Repercussions?

Depending upon the amount of vanilla extract your dog has had, he may face no to serious repercussions. If your dog has chugged down a full bottle of vanilla extract when unattended or pinched one from the counter while you were distracted, you would do well to be worried.

Under such circumstances, you should immediately try to use diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in your dog. If you can get him to throw up all the vanilla extract that he’s drunk, you can stop there. If not and if your dog has not thrown up after 15-minutes after having had peroxide, you can try to give him a small second dose.

However, you should be extremely careful and make sure that you dilute the peroxide. Also, if you can’t get him to throw up don’t try to force more peroxide into him as it can cause massive ulceration in your dog’s stomach lining.

A dog who has invested a lot of vanilla extract and can’t throw it up needs to get his stomach pumped. Depending on the level of intoxication, he may need fluid replacement and supportive therapy.

The sugar content in vanilla extract also wreaks havoc on dogs’ blood sugar levels. It can cause massive fluctuations, especially in puppies, old dogs, or diabetic dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Vanilla Pudding?

Yes! Dogs can eat small servings of vanilla pudding. In fact, it is a very good treat to give overheated dogs in summer, or to a pooch who is hungrily eyeing your pudding cup.

FAQs

Can dogs have vanilla ice cream?

Yes, dogs can have vanilla ice cream in small servings. However, care should be taken that the vanilla in the vanilla ice cream does not have a high alcohol content.

Will vanilla extract hurt dogs?

Yes, undiluted vanilla extract can hurt dogs if consumed in larger amounts. Even half an ounce of vanilla extract is enough to trigger serious symptoms in dogs.

Can a dog eat vanilla yogurt?

Yes, dogs can safely eat vanilla yogurt. The amount of vanilla extract in commercially available yogurts is very low. As long as the yogurt does not contain too much added sugar, it is a good and even a healthy treat for dogs.

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