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Graham crackers are prized for their high safety and nutritional profile compared to regular crackers. But does that make them safe for dogs too? Can dogs eat graham crackers?
Well, the answer to these questions is a bit complicated.
Graham crackers aren’t immediately dangerous or toxic to dogs. To that extent, these products are potentially safe for dogs to eat.
However, graham crackers do not provide any nutritional benefits to dogs. Besides, these yummy treats might contain certain ingredients that could harm your dog if consumed in excess.
This article looks at the top reasons to avoid serving graham crackers to dogs. But first things first.
What Are Graham Crackers?
Graham crackers, also known as Graham wafers, are sweet-flavored crackers made from graham flour.
Graham flour is a special type of coarse-ground flour derived from whole wheat and named after Sylvester Graham who popularized it.
Origin of Graham Crackers
Graham crackers trace their origin in the United States around the mid-19th century. These crackers were inspired by the teachings of Sylvester Graham, who was an influential figure in the 19th-century temperance movement.
Graham advocated temperance in all facets of life, with a special focus on food, sexual activity, and social life. According to him, the combination of reduced sexual stimulation and a vegetarian diet based on bread prepared at home from coarsely-ground wheat flour was how God intended humankind to live. He opined that observing strict dietary and sexual habits was the secret to a healthy and long life.
Sylvester Graham’s teachings became extremely popular during the 1929 -1851 cholera pandemic as many people began embracing healthier dietary habits. Three products were created exclusively for Graham’s followers, namely Graham flour, Graham bread, and Graham crackers. The products are now commercially produced in various locations around the United States.
What Makes Graham Crackers Bad For Dogs?
Most of the risks of graham crackers for dogs come from the basic ingredients used in manufacturing these products.
As already indicated, graham flour is the main component of graham crackers. Other common ingredients include oil, lard, molasses, and salt.
Each of these substances serve certain crucial purposes. However, they’re all either nutritionally useless for dogs or potentially problematic if served in excess.
1. Problems with Graham Flour for Dogs
Graham flour is touted for its high nutritional profile compared to regular wheat flour. Since it’s more coarsely ground and typically not sifted after milling, the flour is incredibly rich in dietary fiber.
Dogs, like all animals, require dietary fiber in their diets. The nutrient aids digestion by boosting stool consistency while also nourishing healthy gut microbiome.
However, flour (including Graham flour) poses more risks to dogs than benefits.
The biggest problem with flour consumption is stomach irritation. That’s especially considering that the product doesn’t comprise a dog’s natural diet. Besides, your pooch could develop allergic reactions to certain proteins in wheat flour.
Potential side effects of consuming graham flour include vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, stomach upset, and abdominal pain. In case of allergic reactions, your dog might display additional symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, and hypersalivation.
2. Problems with Lard for Dogs
Lard is a semi-white fat derived from a pig’s fatty tissues. Popular production methods include boiling, steaming, and dry heating.
The mere mention of the word ‘fat’ already makes lard potentially harmful for dogs. Exposure to this product (or fats in general) might lead to weight-related problems, such as obesity and overweight.
Long-term consumption of lard could also open your dog up for more severe medical complications, such as diabetes and heart disease. Besides, lard can irritate your dog’s stomach in addition to exacerbating the symptoms of pancreatitis.
3. Problems with Molasses for Dogs
Molasses is a by-product of sugar manufacturing, and dogs do not need sugar in their diets.
High consumption of sugary foods can lead to tooth decay and other dental problems. Besides, excess sugar in your dog’s blood is a major risk factor for unhealthy weight gain and associated complications like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
And much like fat, excessive molasses eating can irritate your dog’s tummy.
4. Problems with Salt for Dogs
Salt is the primary compound used to season human foods. Unfortunately, this essential substance has proven dangerous for cats and dogs.
Consuming too much salt (typically more than 0.25g – 1.5g per 100g of food) has been linked to a severe kidney disease in dogs known as sodium-ion poisoning. The condition can make your dog extremely thirsty.
Without prompt treatment, sodium-ion poisoning can lead to life-threatening symptoms like seizures.
5. Problems with Other Graham Crackers Ingredients for Dogs
Some graham crackers may contain garlic and cinnamon extracts. These spices are just as harmful to dogs as salt is.
Garlic, in particular, can cause a potentially fatal disease in dogs called Heinz-body anemia. The condition results from the uncontrolled destruction of red blood cells. Early warning symptoms include pale gums and fatigue.
Just like sodium-ion poisoning, Heinz-body anemia can be fatal if untreated.
Graham crackers are not immediately toxic to dogs. However, almost all ingredients in these products can harm your pooch in the long run. Besides, graham wafers offer no significant nutritional benefits to dogs.
So, from a health and nutritional standpoint, it’s best to keep graham crackers and other similar products out of your dog’s reach.