Can Dogs Eat Cupcakes?

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Can Dogs Eat Cupcakes? The answer is No, you should not feed your dogs cupcakes intended for humans regularly.  Cupcakes aren’t healthy for your dog, and they aren’t particularly healthy for you either. That being said, they’re nothing short of heavenly.

Although cupcakes intended for humans are not healthy for dogs, we do have some healthy (dog approved) recipes below.

When you’re craving something sweet, nothing satisfies like a moist chocolate cupcake loaded up with vanilla frosting. Cupcakes bring out the kid in you and they come in so many different flavors that you’ll never run out of new options to try.

As you’re digging in to one of these delectable treats, you may be tempted to give your dog a bite. Because they’re loaded with sugar and dairy, however, cupcakes aren’t the best choice for your dog. In this guide we’ll talk about the ingredients in cupcakes that can be harmful and tell you what to do if your dog eats a cupcake. We’ll even provide healthy, dog-friendly recipes to try at home.

can dogs eat cupcakes

Ingredients in Cupcakes that Are Harmful

There’s nothing inherently toxic about a vanilla cupcake for your dog, but cupcakes just aren’t a healthy choice. Aside from the high fat and calorie content, there are certain ingredients which could be harmful for your pup. From sugar to dairy, there are plenty of things to be worried about.

Here are some of the potentially harmful ingredients in cupcakes:

  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Artificial Additives

Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients and why they might be harmful.

Sugar

One of the best parts about a cupcake is its sugary sweetness, but that sugar is also one of the biggest problems for dogs. Sugar is a concentrated source of calories, and it may contribute to dental problems.

The experts at The Honest Kitchen suggest the following reasons why sugar is bad for dogs:

  • It is linked to weight gain and obesity
  • It can contribute to dog diabetes
  • Some sweeteners can be toxic
  • It can lead to dental damage

Table sugar contains about 16 calories per teaspoon. It may not seem like much, but 16 calories can be significant for a small dog. Plus, most cupcakes are going to contain more than a single teaspoon. All those extra calories add up and can put your dog at risk for unhealthy weight gain and obesity.

Another problem with sugar is that it can lead to metabolic changes which could contribute to diabetes. When your dog consumes sugar, it triggers the release of insulin into the bloodstream. Chronic high blood sugar and uncontrolled insulin production can be damaging to your dog’s immune system and may harm the pancreas as well.

Sugar itself may not be toxic but some cupcakes are made with artificial sweeteners instead. Xylitol is a type of artificial sweetener that can be incredibly toxic for dogs. Similar to the theobromine in chocolate, dogs have trouble metabolizing xylitol which makes it even more dangerous.

Finally, excessive sugar consumption may be harmful for your dog’s teeth. Experts suggest that as many as 80% of dogs will experience some form of dental disease by their third birthday, so it’s important not to do anything that might speed the process along. 

Butter

Like sugar, butter isn’t toxic for dogs, but it isn’t really good for them. It’s incredibly high in calories and, because it’s a dairy product, it could trigger digestive upset in your dog.

Dairy is known to cause problems in dogs because most dogs are naturally lactose intolerant. Dairy products contain lactose, a specific type of sugar found in cow’s milk. Dogs lack the enzyme lactase which breaks down the sugar, keeping your dog from effectively digesting it.

When dogs eat butter, it can cause a number of reactions. In some cases, the dog will develop bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. For very small dogs or large quantities of butter, the dog may vomit it up if it’s too much for the stomach to handle.

Chocolate

Few things are more delicious than cupcakes smothered in chocolate frosting, but chocolate is bad news for dogs. While chocolate ingestion is rarely fatal, it can make your dog very sick.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is used medicinally as a diuretic, muscle relaxant, blood vessel dilator, and heart stimulant. Chocolate also contains caffeine. Both of these chemicals are difficult for dogs to metabolize which makes the more susceptible to their effects.

According to experts at VCA, the amount of theobromine varies depending on the type of chocolate.

The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content. While milk chocolate only contains between 44 and 58mg of theobromine per ounce, the baking chocolate you might use in chocolate cupcakes contains as much as 450mg per ounce. White chocolate, on the other hand, has only about 0.25mg per ounce, making it very low risk.

Signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, restlessness, excessive urination, and racing heart rate. In severe cases of toxicity, dogs may develop muscle tremors, seizures, and even heart failure. It can take several hours for chocolate poisoning to develop, so if you suspect your dog has eaten any, keep a close eye on him for developing symptoms over the next few days.

Nuts

Nuts are a healthy source of fat for people, but some of them can be problematic for dogs. Macadamia nuts in particular are toxic for dogs, but other common nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts are still very high in fat and calories. Store-bought nuts are also often very salty which could be a problem.

According to the experts at Rover, nuts can also be contaminated with mold. If the nuts have been sitting out for a while, they can develop mold which contains mycotoxins that can contribute to neurological problems in dogs.

Nuts aren’t exactly a standard ingredient in cupcakes, but they certainly can make an appearance. You should also look out for nut products like peanut butter and almond butter which are very high in fat and calories as well.

Artificial Additives

When you bake cupcakes at home, you have complete control over the ingredients you use. You might add artificial color or flavor, but typically not for a standard chocolate or vanilla cupcake. When you purchase store-bought cupcakes and frosting, however, they’re more likely to contain processed ingredients like artificial colors.

Coloring agents like Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellow 5 can be harmful for dogs. While the long-term impact of these dyes hasn’t been widely studied in dogs, some experts suggest they could contribute to problems like allergies, hyperactivity, and certain kinds of tumors. In short, it’s best to avoid them.

In addition to these five potentially harmful ingredients, there are other things you might find in cupcakes that could be bad news. 

Depending on the type of cupcake, cupcakes made with alcohol could be harmful as well as cupcakes made with ingredients that are toxic to dogs. The experts at the Humane Society suggest the following ingredients could be dangerous for dogs:

  • Avocado
  • Candy
  • Coffee
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Raisins
  • Walnuts

The best course of action is to avoid giving your dog any food that isn’t specifically made for him. A bite or two of a cupcake might not do any lasting harm, but neither will it benefit your dog. He’d be just as happy chomping on a dental chew or gobbling up a few dog treats.

What Steps to Take if Your Dog Eats a Cupcake

Whether you’ve given in to your dog’s begging or he stole a cupcake cooling on the counter, it’s important to keep an eye on him for a while. Signs of toxicity may not develop immediately so, especially if it was a chocolate cupcake, you’ll want to monitor your dog for at least a few hours.

Here are the steps to take after your dog eats a cupcake:

  1. Remove the temptation. If your dog helped himself to a cupcake, make sure the rest of them are well out of reach so he isn’t tempted.
  2. Monitor his behavior. Keep an eye on your dog for at least a few hours to make sure he doesn’t develop symptoms of toxicity like lethargy or restlessness.
  3. Keep an eye on his stool. Whether from sugar or dairy, your dog may develop loose stools or diarrhea after eating a cupcake. If he does, make sure he’s getting plenty of water to rehydrate.
  4. Watch for signs of intestinal blockage. Some dogs go beyond just the cupcake and eat the whole wrapper. While some dogs pass it just fine, it could cause an intestinal blockage and that would be a dangerous situation for your dog.
  5. Call Animal Poison Control. If you’re worried about something in the cupcake being bad for your dog, you can always call the Pet Poison Helpline to ask about specific ingredients. If you used store-bought frosting, they may even be able to look up the ingredients for you.
When in doubt, you can also call your veterinarian. If your dog isn’t showing any signs of toxicity, however, your vet will probably recommend monitoring. For cases of significant chocolate ingestion, however, your vet may recommend induced vomiting to prevent toxicity. 

Pawesome Pupcake Recipes that Are Healthy for Your Dog

Here is a simple recipe for pawesome pupcakes your dog will love:

Whole Wheat Pupcakes 

Cook Time:25 min
Prep Time:15 min
Total Time:40 min
Category:Dog Treats
Yield:12 Servings
Method:Bake
Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together the wheat flour and baking soda.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sunflower oil, peanut butter, applesauce, and pumpkin.

4. Whisk in the egg then add the wet ingredients to the dry and thoroughly combine.

5. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling the cups all the way.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Cool the pupcakes completely before feeding.
Ingredients
* 1 cup whole-wheat flour
* ½ teaspoon baking soda
* ¼ cup sunflower oil
* ¼ cup natural peanut butter (check for xylitol)
* ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
* ½ cup pumpkin puree
* 1 large egg
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Wrapping Up

As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog safe. Many pet parents don’t think about it, but the seemingly harmless act of giving your dog table scraps and people food can be harmful in the long run. In addition to increasing your dog’s calorie intake, there could be harmful ingredients in what you’re feeding him.

The best rule of thumb to follow is if it’s not made for dogs, don’t feed it to your dog. There’s nothing wrong with indulging your dog in a few treats now and then, but just make sure they are dog treats and not human treats.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do I do if my dog ate a cupcake wrapper? – On top of the potential dangers of the cupcake itself, cupcake wrappers can be dangerous for dogs. Paper wrappers are fairly soft, but your dog’s body won’t be able to break it down, so it could create an intestinal blockage. Keep a close eye on your dog for the next 12 to 24 hours to make sure he passes the wrapper. If you see signs of intestinal blockage, call your vet.
  • Can dogs eat frosting on cupcakes? – While a small amount of cupcake frosting might not do any harm, it’s not good for your dog for all the same reasons as the cupcake itself. Frosting is loaded with sugar, fat, and calories. Buttercream also has the added problem of dairy.
  • Can I give my dog a piece of cake? – No. There’s no good reason to give your dog a piece of cake intended for humans. For all the same reasons cupcakes are bad for dogs, cake is too.

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