Many of us love the sugary sweet taste of a Pop-Tart and there are so many flavors to choose from. So, it’s understandable that you might be tempted to share your snack with your dog. But like any treat, you should always check whether it’s safe before feeding it to your pet.
So, can dogs eat Pop-Tarts? Or are they best avoided?
Are Pop-Tarts bad for dogs?
In short, the answer is yes, Pop-Tarts are bad for dogs.
While many of them might not be strictly speaking toxic, most of the ingredients that they contain are bad or unhealthy for dogs to eat. Pop-Tarts are not designed for dogs and they cannot process the ingredients in them properly. As a result, Pop-Tarts can give your dog a nasty upset stomach which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
In particular, some Pop-Tarts contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can prove fatal to dogs, even in small amounts. Xylitol can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) and can cause damage to your dog’s liver.
Bear in mind that xylitol is sometimes only listed in food products by its food additive code, which is E967.
Pop-Tarts that do not contain xylitol can still be very unhealthy for your dog, even if they aren’t toxic. So, let’s take a closer look at what Pop-Tarts actually contain and why these ingredients can be bad for dogs.
What are Pop-Tarts?
Pop-Tarts are a sweet breakfast treat that can be eaten hot or cold. They contain a sweet-flavored filling sealed by 2 rectangular-shaped pastry slices and are covered in sugary frosting. Although they might sound delicious to you, most of the ingredients in Pop-Tarts could pose a health risk to your four-legged friend.
Pop-Tarts contain lots of sugar and one Pop-Tart would exceed your dog’s recommended daily allowance of sugar. Sugar is bad for your dog for many reasons. It contains lots of calories which can make your dog prone to weight gain.
This is particularly problematic for those dogs who already need to lose weight. Overweight dogs are at higher risk for major health concerns such as heart disease, respiratory problems, tooth decay, and arthritis.
Excess sugar in the diet can also lead to diabetes which is a very serious health condition. Signs of diabetes can include excessive thirst and urination, increased hunger, and weight loss. If left untreated, diabetes can be fatal so take your dog to the veterinarian if you notice any of these signs in your dog.
Flour provides minimal nutritional benefits to dogs and some may even be intolerant to the gluten that’s found in wheat flour. Signs of a gluten allergy or intolerance could include vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, and itchy skin.
Palm oil and soybean oil can both be found in Pop-Tarts and these contain fats that dogs cannot utilize. This can lead to weight gain among other health problems.
Artificial flavors and artificial colors
Pop-Tarts can contain several artificial flavors and colorants. In particular, they contain a food additive called tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). This is used in many processed foods to prolong shelf life, but studies have shown that it can be harmful to the immune system and has been linked to tumor formation and vision impairment. It also has been shown to have neurotoxic effects in animals.
Dogs can be very sensitive to salt and even small amounts can make them sick. Excess salt in a dog’s diet can lead to salt poisoning which can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms of salt poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, excessive thirst and urination, and seizures.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you are concerned that your dog may have salt poisoning.
What about the different flavors?
Can dogs eat strawberry Pop-Tarts?
No, you shouldn’t feed your dog strawberry Pop-Tarts. This flavor of Pop-Tart contains huge quantities of sugar which is very bad for dogs, leading to problems such as weight gain, diabetes, and dental disease.
Can dogs eat cinnamon Pop-Tarts?
No, cinnamon Pop-Tarts are not recommended for dogs. They contain large amounts of different types of sugar including fructose, dextrose, molasses, and corn syrup. Excess sugar in a dog’s diet can cause weight gain, tooth decay, and exacerbate arthritis which is a very painful condition. Too much sugar can also lead to diabetes.
Can dogs eat blueberry Pop-Tarts?
No, dogs shouldn’t eat blueberry Pop-Tarts for the same reasons that they shouldn’t eat strawberry Pop-Tarts. They contain lots of sugar, in addition to fats and artificial food additives. They could be harmful to your dog.
Can dogs eat chocolate Pop-Tarts?
No, chocolate Pop-Tarts are not safe for dogs. You should never feed your dog anything that contains chocolate as it is poisonous for dogs. Although a very small amount might not do too much harm, if a dog eats chocolate, he is at risk for chocolate toxicity. Chocolate toxicity can result in vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, heart problems, seizures, and even death. If your dog ingests chocolate, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
Can dogs eat A&W Root Beer Pop-Tarts?
No, dogs shouldn’t eat A&W Root Beer Pop-Tarts. Although they don’t contain actual root beer, they still contain all of the harmful ingredients listed above including sugar, fats, and salt. In particular, these Pop-Tarts contain several different artificial colors which can cause serious adverse reactions in some dogs.
My dog has eaten a Pop-Tart and I’m concerned – what should I do?
You should never deliberately feed your dog Pop-Tarts but accidents happen and if your dog has managed to snaffle some Pop-Tart, then the first thing to do is to remove him from the area with the remaining Pop-Tart. Try and work out how much Pop-Tart your dog has eaten. If it is just a small bite, chances are the worst he’ll suffer is vomiting and diarrhea.
If he has eaten a lot of one Pop-Tart or even several Pop-Tarts, then contact your veterinarian immediately for further advice. This is especially important if your dog has eaten a Pop-Tart containing xylitol or a chocolate Pop-Tart. In these instances, take your dog to the veterinarian, even if he has only eaten a tiny amount.
Gemma is an experienced small animal vet who combines her love of writing alongside working in practice. Since her graduation from the University of Liverpool in 2014 she has worked in a wide variety of roles including first opinion practice, as a night vet and as a locum vet. She has also spent time working at a charity clinic in the Cook Islands which was a challenge but also immensely rewarding. She loves all aspects of veterinary work, but she especially enjoys medicine cases and diagnostic imaging. She is passionate about pain-management, particularly in her more senior patients. She currently works in a first opinion small animal practice in North Yorkshire where she deals with both routine and emergency cases.