With its iconic crunch and savory flavor, who could resist a bite or more of Goldfish Crackers? Certainly not you or your dog, who has been trying to get your attention since you opened a pack. But would it be a great idea to give these salty snacks to your dog?
Goldfish crackers, homemade or store-bought, are so good that even picky eaters would take a bite. But just like chicken skins, goldfish crackers are not recommended for dog snacking. Let’s find out why you might want to think twice when feeding these goodies to your furbaby.
Store-bought goldfish crackers contain too much salt and additives which are unhealthy for your dogs. Although homemade crackers have lesser salt, it is better to give these treats in moderation or just find a healthier snack to avoid long-term health complications or short-term adverse effects.
What Are Goldfish Crackers Made Of?
Pepperidge Farm creates the classic Goldfish Cracker that most of us eat during lunches. Memes aside, this product usually has three primary ingredients: enriched wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. In short, these snacks are empty (yet flavorful) calories.
Vegetable oil is added to improve the taste and texture, but it also means additional saturated fat. Only 2% of ingredients are additives and flavorings. All in all, here is the list of ingredients used for the original, unflavored product:
- Enriched Wheat Flour
- Vegetable Oil
- Nonfat Milk
- Baking Soda
- Monocalcium Phosphate
- Onion Powder
Pepperidge Farm also offers flavor variants such as Cheddar, Whole Grain Cheddar, Parmesan, Pretzel Baked Snacks, and more. These products contain more additives, such as onion and garlic powder, which might harm your dogs. Powdered flavorings are deemed more dangerous due to the more concentrated nature of these items.
A popular (and healthier) way to enjoy this snack is to cook your own batch without adding artificial seasonings or colorings. Mix all-purpose flour with cold unsalted butter, cheese, and water to form a dough and bake appropriately.
Are Goldfish Crackers Toxic To Dogs?
Goldfish Crackers are not a healthy option for dog snacks due to the high salt content. Generally, these snacks are simply salt-infused carb-bombs: unhealthy, but not inherently toxic (for you and your dog).
Only garlic and onion powder are considered toxic ingredients due to Thiosulfate, inorganic sodium that can cause anemia in dogs. But except for these two flavorings, other ingredients in Goldfish Crackers are safe for dog consumption.
You should instead watch out for the portion size that your dog consumes on a regular basis. These products are often produced with taste and efficiency in mind and not the nutritional value or health benefits.
Moderation is the key to avoiding unwanted side effects while sharing things you love with your beloved pooch. Here are Goldfish Crackers’ primary ingredients and their adverse effects when taken more than the recommended daily intake.
AAFCO recommends that dogs should have 0.3% of sodium in their diet to support growth for younger dogs and 0.6% to maintain healthy cellular production for adult dogs. This amount is easily attainable just by giving the recommended dog food.
Goldfish Crackers have 230mg of sodium per 55 pieces or a little over 4mg per bite, which can stack up quickly depending on how frequently your dog consumes these snacks. A piece or two won’t cause any problems, but a whole bag or 10 pieces would spell trouble.
Excessive salt consumption can cause dangerous effects, including dehydration, high blood pressure, and sodium ion poisoning, among other things. Always take precautions to avoid accidental feeding or irresponsible snacking on Goldfish Crackers or other salty treats.
Enriched Wheat Flour
Goldfish Cracker is primarily made with enriched wheat flour, wherein iron and B vitamins are added to restore natural nutrients stripped out during wheat processing.
Unfortunately, re-fortifying the flour doesn’t eliminate excess calories that might cause weight gain, increased blood sugar, and obesity. Adding Goldfish Crackers to your dog’s regular diet is a big and heavy “no.” Long-term health complications aren’t worth it for your dog’s health.
Flavored Goldfish Crackers
Classic Goldfish Crackers are an acceptable snack in small amounts, but flavored variants are another story. These products have higher salt content in addition to toxic flavorings. Flavors like cheese can also cause stomach upsets for some dogs who cannot digest lactose.
What Are Goldfish Crackers’ Side Effects On Dogs?
Small amounts of Goldfish Crackers are fine if not given as a part of your dog’s regular diet. However, instances such as your dog accidentally raiding your cupboard and snacking with a bag of biscuits can happen. When this happens, monitor your dog within 24 hours to see if one or more of these symptoms would appear.
Dehydration / Increased Thirst
If your pet started to take a few rounds in the water bowl more than usual, that might be because of excessive salt in their body. Too much salt dehydrates cells, which makes the body want to refill the missing amount of fluids urinated.
Dogs can experience cramps, muscle tremors, and other physical difficulties due to salt toxicity. They can also show disorientation, confusion, and jitteriness, which might lead to seizures.
Stomach upsets such as diarrhea and vomiting can happen due to the flavorings and other additives that make the crackers savory.
Lethargy, Panting & Pale Gums
Lethargy can also manifest in tandem with other symptoms stated above. Sudden weakness and irregular heartbeat can become symptoms of any sickness, including salt poisoning.
Salt poisoning is the biggest immediate factor affecting your dog’s health after consuming high-sodium items. You should avoid further giving your dog salty food if they accidentally consumed an unintended amount of Goldfish Crackers.
What Should I Do If My Dog Ate A Lot Of Goldfish Crackers?
Salt poisoning can be hard to spot because some symptoms are very similar to other health complications. However, accidental food consumption is often the primary cause of salt poisoning diagnosis in dogs.
The first thing to do when you find your dog weakened and lethargic is to assess the symptoms. Take note of how long since symptoms appeared, and examine your dog for physical injuries. If the pain is not caused by external factors, check the last thing your dog ate.
After checking your dog’s symptoms, you should check accessible food containers to confirm if there is a possibility of salt poisoning. Some evidence that can point out accidental salt poisoning is destroyed food packaging of Goldfish Crackers or other products.
Provide additional water to help your pooch regain fluid lost from frequent urination. This is also helpful in minimizing further damage to their cells. Call your vet for further instructions or take your pet to a nearby Pet Poison or Animal Poison Control Center.
Veterinary professionals will likely administrate supportive medication such as IV fluids and electrolytes to stabilize your dog’s body chemistry. Pets might need to be admitted to the vet hospital for monitoring depending on the damage already done.
The Bottom Line: Moderate Goldfish Crackers Consumption
Just like chicken skins, Goldfish Crackers (homemade or original Pepperidge saltine variant) are a relatively safe, tasty, and crunchy snack for dogs. However, being safe doesn’t mean the product is healthy or recommended.
One or two pieces of these saltine crackers are enough just to share the love. More than that might lead to stomach upsets and other unwanted side effects. Avoid feeding food with high salt and fat content to prevent both short-term and long-term health complications.
A healthier option is to give fruits, tasty veggies, and peanut-butter-based snacks just to break the monotony of your dog’s food selection. Or better yet, stick to a diet that has been proven safe and nutritious for your dog.
And as always, do the recommended precautions when storing your own snacks to prevent your pooch from getting its paws on salty food. Always do thorough research when introducing new food types or brands to your paws.
Dog-safe alternatives for flavorful snacks
If you still want to share some flavorful snacks with your pet, you can also try going the homemade route to regulate the fat and salt content. Remember that moderation is still the key to keeping your pups happy and healthy.
Oh, and you might want to shop for tons of oats for your homemade dog treats. Oats are often substituted as a healthy and cheap source of carbohydrates, vitamin B(for a healthy coat), and linoleic acid. And as it turns out, it is also a good ingredient in making delicious dog treats.
Most of the recipes below might need a bit of adjustment to accommodate your dog’s size and any health/allergy conditions. Here are five delicious homemade treats to reward your pets.
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal
Mix your dry ingredients first: wheat flour, almond flour, oatmeal, and baking soda. Then add coconut oil, beef broth, and egg. Drop a scoop of peanut butter and a bit of cheese, then shape the “dough” into small bone pieces. Bake the biscuits based on the size and serve.
- Frozen Pumpkin & Yogurt
Another easy and quick dog treat recipe is frozen pumpkin and yogurt. Just mix pumpkin puree with plain yogurt, pour the mixture on an ice cube tray, and let it freeze for 24 hours.
- Cheddar Bacon
Instead of adding sweet filing, this recipe uses savory materials to spice up your dog snacks. Incorporate oats, cheddar cheese, bacon strips, and egg into a sticky dough. Shape and bake the dough and keep it in an airtight container.
- Apple Carrot Dog Biscuits
Grate your apples and carrots manually or via a food processor. Make a dough out of oats, whole wheat flour, egg, and vegetable oil, and add the grated raw materials. Bake and serve.
- Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Treats
And we’re down to our last recipe: the sweet potato dog treats. This recipe needs gluten-free flour, rolled oats, and sweet-potato-flavored baby food (for easier preparation). Roll everything together into a dough; you can use honey to make it a bit sweeter. Use cookie cutters or any shapes that you have to shape the dough before cooking. Bake until crisp and golden brown.
Be mindful of your dog’s daily nutrient recommendation when serving some treats. What’s important is not overdoing the treat-giving. Focus more on a long-term diet to keep your dogs healthy.