When it comes to dogs, flans are like cakes or pies for that matter.
They are types of food that you cut into slices and then put onto plates and then forget that you have left them on the kitchen counter.
Which is a dream situation for a greedy dog as it just waits until your back is turned and then the snacking can begin!
So can a dog eat flan without being poisoned or being violently sick?
Yes, by and large, most flans will not cause your dogs any problems.
There are exceptions which I will outline in this article.
But, let’s face it.
The harm it will do to your dog depends on the size of the dog and the amount of flan that they ate.
There is a chasm between a sniff or a lick, a bite, a portion or eating the whole damn lot!
And, of course, some flans might contain harmful fruit or vegetables.
What is flan?
A flan can be one of two things.
It is an open topped pastry case that has either a savoury or sweet filling or it is a baked custard dessert-like a creme brulee only with a soft and not a hard top.
But some would say that a flan can only be a sweet dish and not a savoury one.
And to make things more complicated we need to briefly discuss the difference between a flan and a quiche?
Well quiches always contain an egg custard and they are always a savoury dish.
And with a quiche, the pastry is baked before the egg custard is added.
Whereas with a pastry flan, the pastry is cooked together with all the other ingredients.
Can dogs eat flan?
This all depends on what is in the flan because a flan can be so many different things.
To make one thing clear- any flan won’t be a healthy food to feed your dog.
But I want to dig a little deeper and find out if there are any ingredients that are potentially toxic to dogs.
So I’m going to look at the ingredients in the most popular flans and examine them one by one.
I have chosen a leche flan recipe because it contains a sweet egg custard and for some people that is what a flan is.
There are only five ingredients, so this will be a quick examination indeed: sugar, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract.
Sugar isn’t toxic to dogs but it is hardly a healthy choice.
Sugar has many harmful temptations.
And the first one is that dogs like humans can develop a sweet tooth which will create a cravings for sugary foods.
Although dog’s don’t have as many taste buds in their mouth as people do, dogs can still taste basic flavours such as sweet, sour and salty.
The second temptation is that eating too much sugar will lead to weight gain.
And the third temptation is that sugar is very bad for dog’s teeth and will accelerate tooth decay.
Eggs are full of nutrients and are a fantastic occasional treat for a dog to eat- although not when they are wrapped up in a mix of sugar and fattening milk products.
Eggs are packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals and are relatively low in calories.
Sweetened condensed milk
Sweetened condensed milk isn’t toxic to your dog.
It contains two main nutrients- sugar and fat.
Approximately 73% of any serving of this milk is sugar and 10% is fat.
As a damage limitation exercise, you might say that its saving grace is that it has a high calcium content
But the cynic in me would just say- let them chew a bone instead.
With a much lower sugar and fat content than condensed milk, evaporated milk can be seen as the slimmer’s choice!
But like condensed milk, evaporated milk is a bit one dimensional.
There are so few healthy nutrients.
Apart from weight gain eating, there are other side effects from eating too much sugar.
These include diarrhea and potentially hyperactivity.
I say potentially hyperactivity because lots of people talk about dog’s having sugar rushes but I can’t find any real scientific evidence of that.
And the side effects of eating too much fat?
Well in the one off situation where your dog eats a whole leche flan, the worst that might happen is that your dog might get a bout of diarrhea.
Consistent access to fatty foods will lead to obesity and a slim chance of pancreatitis.
But the good news for a dog that eats a high fat diet is that it can never lead to heart disease unlike in people.
Vanilla extract in the quantities that are used in a flan is quite harmless to your dog but vanilla extract can be quite dangerous to a dog because it contains alcohol- 34% of it on average is pure alcohol.
To place that in context, that is about the same level of alcohol that is in vodka
And with that, I think that we are done.
Having analyzed a flan that doesn’t have a pastry case, it is now time to look at flans with pastry cases.
Is pastry a known dog killer?
Fresh fruit flan
Flans that contain fresh fruit are incredibly popular.
And I have looked at one of the best loved recipes.
A fresh fruit flan has three pieces to it- fruit, pastry/ crust and filling.
Before I talk about the fruit that sits on top of the I will talk about the pastry.
The ingredients for the pastry include flour, sugar, egg, baking soda and butter.
None of these ingredients are toxic to dogs and even the baking soda shouldn’t trouble your dog.
Baking soda is toxic but your dog would need to ingest much larger quantities than there are in pastry.
Baking soda can be put to many good uses with your dog but the golden rule is to only use it for external uses.
All the ingredients for the filling are very unhealthy for your dog but your dog won’t be poisoned.
The ingredients in the recipe that I’m looking at include cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract.
Sugar and vanilla extract have already been discussed.
Cream cheese is so unhealthy because about 34% of it is pure fat.
It has about the same number of calories as heavy cream- just to place it in some kind of context.
And finally the topping.
Most fruits are great vitamin and mineral boosts for your dog.
But remember that they are very high in sugar and so your dog shouldn’t be eating large quantities of any fruit.
Now the recipe that I’m looking at uses kiwis, strawberries and blueberries to top the flan off.
And none of these fruits will cause your dog any problems.
The most dangerous fruit as far as your dog is concerned are grapes- white or black.
Some dogs are fine eating grapes but other dogs can be poisoned and killed by eating just one.
And vets really don’t know why.
Cherries can also be a problem for dogs because of their pips which contain cyanide- but your dog would need to consume a large punnet of them for cyanide poisoning to become an issue.
So that is two flans down and one to go.
And this savoury recipe will see a massive drop in sugar content.
The only thing to discuss with regard to savoury flans are the vegetables that are used in the filling.
A savoury flan will have an egg custard (milk or cream) filling and a pastry on the outside.
And the variety of vegetables that you can use are almost unlimited.
But there are a few vegetables that could get your dog in a spot of bother.
And the ones to watch for are from the same family.
How often does that happen?!
The culprits are from the allium family and the two biggest threats are onions and garlic but you should also steer clear of using leeks or chives in your savoury flans.
I have written a post about onion poisoning which you can read.
The basic rule of thumb as far as onions are concerned, is that a dog has to eat over .5% of their own body weight in onions in order to be at risk of poisoning.
¹ Photo by stu_spivack on Flickr