Animal crackers originated in England. They were imported into the US in the 19th century and soon began to be produced locally.
These crackers are shaped and baked in the form of animals from the zoo, circus, Christmas-inspired, and others animals.
Today, the most popular animal crackers in the USA are Barnum’s Animal Crackers which come in many variations.
They are fun to use as a decoration and to give to your kids, but are they suitable for dogs too?
Some varieties of animal crackers are safe for healthy dogs, which are not gluten or lactose intolerant or allergic.
Read on to find out whether dogs can eat animal crackers and the pros and cons of rewarding your pup with some of these adorable cookies.
More About The Animal Crackers
After arriving in the US from England in the 19th century, various companies began producing animal crackers locally. One of the most famous brands in the USA is “Barnum’s Animal Crackers.”
These animal-shaped cookies are very popular, with more than 40 million packages sold annually in the country and worldwide.
Today, the animal shapes are made following consultations with PETA. But over the years, more than 53 different animal shapes have been sold as animal crackers.
They are available under various brand names and by different companies in many other countries.
Traditionally, they are sold as separate crackers shaped like animals but are available as animal-shaped cakes too.
The popular Staffer’s Animal Crackers are made of enriched flour, sugar, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, baking soda, salt, soy emulsifier, and spices such as nutmeg and mace. The ingredients are enriched with essential nutrients such as niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and folate, and iron.
While these crackers are not toxic for canines, they are not the healthiest treat to give your furbaby, especially in large quantities or regularly.
The reason is that they do not provide too much healthy nutritional value for canines and will add empty calories and sugar to your pup’s diet instead.
Other human foods are much more suitable for occasional dog treats and training rewards. Some even have health benefits for dogs.
Are There Health Benefits For Dogs From Animal Crackers?
While the fortified flour and other ingredients used for making these cookies can benefit children and adults, they are not so healthy for canines.
They do contain a lot of protein which can provide the energy needed for staying active and for wound healing in pups. The vitamins from the vitamin B complex group can help boost the production of red blood cells and improve brain function in canines too.
Since they are rich in fiber, animal crackers may help aid the digestive system in dogs as well.
Giving your furbaby an animal cracker from time to time can help it clean its teeth through chewing.
Plus, most dogs find them tasty, and thus they can be used as high-value rewards for training, but in small bits.
Are There Risks For The Dog’s Health From Animal Crackers?
There are many variations and brands of animal crackers, so there is a risk that your furry companion is allergic or sensitive to some of the ingredients used. Gluten intolerance and wheat allergies are common among canines.
Plus, some pups may have problems digesting these cookies due to the byproducts used for their making. They can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Since they are usually brittle and dry, these crackers can be choking hazards, especially for smaller-sized pups.
Canines with other underlying health issues may suffer from a worsening of their condition when eating a lot of these baked goods.
Animal crackers contain a lot of sugar, corn syrup, and salt, which are even more harmful to dogs than they are to humans, and can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or water retention.
Obesity can shorten the lifespan of dogs significantly when left unmanaged.
Should I Give My Pup Animal Crackers?
While a little piece of an animal cracker will hardly harm a healthy dog, these human cookies are not the best option for dog treats. They are high in sugar, salt, fat, and calories. Plus, their flour and gluten can lead to mild or severe adverse reactions in allergic or sensitive dogs.
The additives and byproducts used for making them can cause digestive upsets such as vomiting and diarrhea in some dogs.
The high sugar content can cause weight gain, tooth cavities, diabetes, and other problems when consumed in excess.
If your vet approves of giving your pet some animal crackers, make sure to pick ones that do not contain chocolate, Xylitol, or other toxic ingredients for dogs.
Start by introducing a very small quantity at first, and monitor your dog for any negative reactions to animal crackers.
Tips For Giving Animal Crackers To Dogs
Choose plain crackers without ingredients that can be poisonous to dogs, such as chocolate, cocoa, or the artificial sweetener Xylitol.
If you’re using the crackers as rewards for training purposes, break them into tiny bits. Only use them as high-value rewards to reinforce the positive behavior of your furry companion.
You can make a picky dog eat its regular kibble or other dog food by sprinkling some crumbs from an animal cracker on top of it.
Or you can put a bit of the cracker in a Kong or other toy so that the pup stays entertained while finding it and digging it out.
Remember to give your pup small manageable pieces of the animal-shaped crackers and leave them only for special occasions. This will help prevent weight gain and other health problems associated with obesity in canines.