Vanilla is used in many foods, especially desserts. Usually, people buy and use vanilla in the form of an extract, but some may use vanilla beans as well. 

If you accidentally spilled vanilla on the floor and your dog was quick enough to gobble some up – or if your dog consumes vanilla in some other way – will it harm your pup’s health?

This leads to a common question many of us dog lovers have: “can dogs eat vanilla?”

Below you’ll learn whether or not vanilla is a safe food for dogs. You’ll also learn whether this food has any health benefits and/or harmful effects on our dogs. 

Can Dogs Eat Vanilla?

The short answer is usually no; dogs should not eat vanilla. Vanilla is a terrible food choice for dogs. In fact, vanilla can be toxic food to our dogs.

There are many types of foods that are not good for dogs, such as grapes, apricots, and avocados, and you can add vanilla to that list.

It is important to remember that vanilla has different parts and types. Regardless, most of the time, vanilla, especially its extract, is toxic to dogs. 

When Is Vanilla Harmful To Dogs?

That said, pure vanilla and vanilla pods are not toxic to dogs. In fact, though vanilla pods are very expensive, they are perfectly safe for dogs to consume and are not toxic.

However, even though vanilla pods and pure vanilla are not toxic to dogs, they are not suitable food for dogs. Pure vanilla and vanilla pods provide little to no nutritional benefits to dogs. 

But if you are talking about vanilla extract and vanilla flavoring, then those are forms of vanilla that are toxic to your dogs. Vanilla flavoring and extract are toxic to dogs due to their high alcohol content. 

Consumption of alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning. A dog’s liver is not able to process alcohol content. 

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Dehydration
  • Hypersalivation
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

So, how is vanilla extract made? Where does all the alcohol come from?

Vanilla extract is made by soaking the vanilla pods in a mixture of water and ethanol alcohol. The vanilla pods are left there for about 2 months. 

The process is similar to making vanilla flavoring. However, one notable difference is that vanilla flavoring is soaked in propylene glycol rather than ethanol alcohol. 

Are Vanilla Desserts Harmful To Dogs?

What about vanilla cakes, icing, or ice cream? Are they toxic to dogs?

Well, that depends. However, if you are wondering if vanilla is what makes these desserts toxic to dogs, then the answer to that is most likely not.

The reason for that is that although baked goods contain vanilla extract, there is not enough in them to poison a dog. Instead, it is the sugar and xylitol that you must watch out for as well as other ingredients. 

Although not enough vanilla extract is in vanilla desserts to be threatening, it is important to remember that many vanilla desserts are still high in sugar. And this could be very dangerous to dogs.

They are just fillers or extra calories for dogs who need a high-energy diet. Many vanilla desserts are also high in fats. 

However, because of its ingredients, including sugar, most vanilla desserts can be very bad for dogs. Feeding too much high-sugar content to dogs can cause trouble for their health. It puts them at risk of having many health problems such as diabetes, Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), or even weight gain and obesity.

Learn More About What Human Foods Are Healthy or Harmful for Dogs

This article is a part of our special series of articles about “What Human Foods Can Dogs Eat?”

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