We all know that dogs like sweet stuff but that some are actually terrible for them.
Like chocolate and xylitol.
What about dextrose, though?
Can Rover have some of that?
Will it make him ill?
What if there’s a bit of it in his favorite snack?
Can he still have a bite, or should you keep it away from him for good? Enough with the questions already!
We went digging to bring you the dirt on dextrose and related sweeteners.
What is Dextrose?
Before we figure out whether our four-legged friend can eat the stuff, it’s probably best to understand what on earth we’re talking about, right?
Dextrose is a simple sugar that’s chemically identical to glucose (that’s the sugar in your blood). It’s derived from corn and is widely used in baking.
This simple sugar dissolves easily and is often given intravenously to humans with low blood sugar levels. Cool!
Can My Dog Eat Dextrose?
Generally, sugar is a bad idea for dogs, since it could lead to all kinds of nasty side effects.
Short term, you’re looking at an energy spike followed by an insane slump.
Long term, it gets intense, with diabetes and obesity at the top of the list.
So, your pup probably shouldn’t be eating it, regardless of whether it’s toxic to his body.
That said, dextrose is used in medical applications for dogs, as with humans.
If you end up at the emergency vet with a very ill pooch, he might have dextrose administered intravenously.
As with humans, a water-based dextrose solution is ideal for raising blood sugar levels if you’re suffering from severely low blood sugar levels.
So, in emergencies, dextrose isn’t a bad idea. Just don’t use it as a regular supplement to his daily meals.
What is Dextrose Used for with Dogs?
As already mentioned, dextrose is used in medical applications when your pooch suffers severe dehydration or a diabetic episode.
Here, your vet would use a 5% solution (95% water, 5% dextrose) and administer it intravenously (directly into the vein).
The reasoning behind this is simple: the vet can easily add additional medication to the solution with no side effects and administer it straight to your pup’s bloodstream.
That way, it gets to work fast, giving your pup the best shot at recovery.
I mean, come on, if he’s ill enough to justify a drip, he’ll probably need some extra meds and fast.
Let’s backtrack a bit. What on earth is a diabetic episode? It’s an extreme case of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) caused by diabetes. Here, your fur kid’s body uses up all the available sugar, a process also known as excessive glucose consumption. When this happens, his blood sugar level will drop far below the safe range for healthy dogs (3.3 – 3.6 mmol/L).
Hypoglycemia has other causes too. These include endocrine and hepatic disorders, too little sugar in the blood due to fasting, or toxicity (as with xylitol poisoning). Oh boy, more big words. Endocrine disorders occur when the internal functioning of your pup’s body goes haywire. He has endocrine glands all over his body, which produce hormones that help the rest of his body function. When one or more organs fail to react or react incorrectly to these hormones, it’s called an endocrine disorder.
Hepatic functions refer to the way the liver works. When this vital organ goes into uncharted territory, it’s called a hepatic disorder.
So, in short, when your pup gets low blood sugar levels for whatever reason, dextrose can bump things up to healthy levels again. This helps your pup’s body get back into gear, increasing his odds of full recovery.
Having looked at how dextrose is used in vet clinics, I want to take a look at how dextrose powder might be used at home.
The dangerous home use of dextrose powder
In recent years, the availability of dextrose powder as a human dietary supplement has exploded.
It is particularly popular with the bodybuilding community who are looking for a post workout “pick me up”.
With heady promises of an easy way to gain weight and muscle, is it any wonder that packets of this powder have been flying off the shelves?
Add a scoop into your favourite smoothie and, voila! Hello Superman or Wonder Woman.
And with that almost instant sugar high kicking in, you feel wonderful to boot.
And because we can use it ourselves, it is natural to think about the ways that we can use it with our dogs.
Dextrose powder: 3 ideal canine candidates?
There are four ideal candidates that spring to mind when thinking about using dextrose powder with our dogs.
Firstly, are dehydrated dogs.
I mean if it is used by vets to rehydrate dogs that are dehydrated, why can’t it be used at home.
A quick look in Google shows that many of you are asking about the use of dextrose with pregnant dogs and newborn puppies specifically.
Secondly, are diabetic dogs.
Dextrose is used by some people with diabetes as a means of controlling their blood sugar levels when they start to dip and so why not use it with a diabetic dog?
There are lots of reasons that dextrose powder shouldn’t be used with these dogs but the one I want to focus on are the dangers of giving any of these dogs an overdose.
An overdose will lead to a condition called hyperglycemia which has some nasty side effects.
The third type of dog that you might consider using dextrose with are underweight dogs.
You know that dog you have just adopted from the local rescue shelter with a brutal back story.
As well as lots of love and attention, they could do with putting on lots of weight and fast.
If it’s good enough for bodybuilders then why not use it with skinny dogs.
And the reason is, it isn’t a very effective way for a bodybuilder to add bulk to their frame- it is just a very easy way to add a fews pounds because all you need to do is take a scoop from a packet.
What bodybuilders and underweight dogs need is a properly balanced diet that contains not just sugar but fat and protein and given time their weight will increase at a natural and healthy rate.
Now that I have got that off my chest, I want to look at how dextrose is used in different foods.
And one of those foods is used as a very popular treat by many of us
Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter With Dextrose?
Peanut butter is the ultimate dog treat ingredient. Most fur kids love it, it’s generally healthy, and it’s a great source of healthy energy. But, not all peanut butter was created equal. Some peanut butter brands contain xylitol, a natural alternative to sugar. While it’s an excellent option for humans, it’s absolutely not a good idea for dogs since the stuff can literally kill your fur kid. So, before giving your fur kid a spoonful of heavenly peanutty bliss, check the label. The same goes for chocolate, which is very dangerous for dogs.
What about dextrose, though? Well, dextrose is fine for dogs, so if your chosen peanut butter contains it, your pup can have it. Note the caveat that too much dextrose can lead to obesity and diabetes, so don’t overfeed your pup on the good stuff. One scoop is enough.
The best type of peanut butter for your fur kid (and for you, FYI) is the kind that contains nothing but peanuts. Yup, you read that right. No sugar, salt, preservatives, colorants, or flavoring. If you’re used to the no-holds-barred kind with tons of added stuff, it might take some getting used to, but it’s worth it. And pure peanut butter is naturally sweet, so it actually tastes fantastic. You still get the creamy smoothness you’re used to (or the crunchy variety, if that’s your poison) without all the added nasties.
You can even make natural peanut butter at home if you have a food processor. It’s super easy – just pop those roasted peanuts in and click the button until it gets nice and creamy. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Is Dextrose the Same as Xylitol?
Xylitol isn’t actually sugar. It’s a sugar alcohol, which doesn’t contain any sugar, and it’s incredibly toxic to dogs. So, xylitol and dextrose are vastly different. In fact, a dextrose solution will probably be used as part of the treatment plan for dogs suffering from xylitol poisoning to help stabilize their blood sugar levels. Crazy, right?
Xylitol poisoning is a severe risk to dogs. A tiny bit of the stuff could literally kill your dog. This might sound strange since xylitol is all the rage in human diets and definitely not lethal to us. The key here is the rate of absorption. Your dog’s blood absorbs xylitol much faster than yours could. This quick absorption triggers the pancreas, which goes into overdrive, producing insulin like there’s no tomorrow. This insulin overdose sucks up all the much-needed sugar in the blood, leading to severely low blood sugar levels. When your pup’s blood sugar levels drop too low, his body goes into shock, and he could die. Because this process happens so quickly with xylitol, you don’t have much time to react and get medical help before it’s too late. That’s why xylitol is so scary.
Dextrose is sugar, plain and simple. It’s one of the healthier sugars and is often used to treat low blood sugar levels and dehydration. So, your pup won’t be worse for wear if he eats a whole bunch of dextrose once-off. That is, he’ll probably get a bit hyper from the sugar rush and feel slightly hungover after, but he won’t suffer any long-term side effects. If he eats significant amounts of it regularly, things might get a bit hairy. Here, he could develop diabetes and obesity, both of which have severe long-term consequences. So, it’s best to keep all the sugar well out of reach.