What are mentos?
First created in the 1930s on a train ride to Poland, Mentos are now sold worldwide.
The original idea was to create a peppermint flavoured caramel sweet.
In the U.S. alone there are about thirty different Mentos products sold spanning gum, chewy mints and plain mints.
A fact I really wanted to find was how many Mentos were sold in the US every year.
I mean just how popular are they?
But, darn it, I can’t find it.
However I did find the results of a very recent survey in which over eleven million people said that they had eaten between one and two packs of Mentos in the last 30 days!
But what about dogs?
Can dogs have Mentos?
This might come as a surprise to you but your dog will be safe eating most Mentos products.
Most of the varieties of gum contain an alcohol called xylitol (which is a poison to dogs) that your dog must not eat.
But for all of the other Mentos products the worst that will happen to your dog is that their teeth might fall out and they will get fat.
The Three Mentos Product Ranges
From what I can see, in the USA Mentos sell three different product ranges
- Chewy Mints
- Mentos Mints
There are thirteen flavours of gum and only one of them is dog safe.
All the other varieties of gum use xylitol as an ingredient.
I will talk about why this ingredient is so toxic for dogs.
The Chewy Mints range has fourteen different flavours in it and none of these use xylitol as an ingredient.
Therefore mints from this range are safe for you dog to eat.
And finally the Mentos Mints product range has two flavours in it and none of these use xylitol as an ingredient.
Again, the mints from this third product range are safe for you dogs to eat.
Having identified which Mentos products are harmful and which are safe, in the next section I want to explain a bit more about xylitol.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is an alcohol which is used in a lot of sugar free foods.
The reason for this is that it has a similar sweetness to ordinary sugar (sucrose) with only a fraction of the calories.
Can you see why food manufacturers are so keen on it?!
Apparently it is 5% less sweet than sugar with only 40% of the calories.
But xylitol’s charms don’t end there.
Another reason to love it, if you manufacture food, is that xylitol doesn’t cause blood sugar levels to spike.
Whereas sucrose (ordinary sugar) or fructose (another widely used sweetener) can trigger large increases in blood sugar levels.
This makes it diabetic friendly which makes it even more attractive to use.
Xylitol’s final special power is that since this alcohol can be found in most fruits and vegetables, it is easy to get hold of.
But why is it so bad for dogs?
Let’s find out.
Why is xylitol poisonous to dogs?
The human body has no problems absorbing and processing xylitol but this simply isn’t the case for dogs.
Their bodies can’t process it correctly
Once xylitol enters a dog’s body and is absorbed into their blood, the pancreas releases lots of insulin which reduces the blood’s sugar levels to dangerously low levels.
This shock is called hypoglycaemia and without treatment it could be fatal because it will cause extensive damage in the liver.
Vets aren’t sure why or how exactly all of this happens but they are certain that even small amounts of xylitol can lead to serious complications.
What are the side effects of xylitol poisoning?
If you are worried that your dog might have eaten a Mento that contains xylitol, here are some tell tale symptoms.
These include vomiting, unsteady on their feet, seizures or just lethargy.
What should you do if your dog shows these symptoms?
Get them to a vet as soon as you can.
Don’t waste time looking for home or natural remedies.
Only vets can treat this type of poisoning successfully.
What is the one dog safe Mentos gum?
There is, very strangely, one flavour of gum (from a total of thirteen) that will not poison your dog.
And this flavour is Red Fruit Lime and Tropical.
Red fruit lime and tropical uses sorbitol as its main sweetener.
All of the other flavours use a combination of xylitol and sorbitol to get the sweetness that they need.
Why this should be so, will be a company secret.
I suspect that it has something to do with the combination of sweeteners and other ingredients in the lime and tropical flavour gum that provide enough sweetness that xylitol just isn’t necessary.
I think that we will stop talking about Mentos gum now and move on to their Chewy Mints range.
None of the flavours in this range will poison your dog but what ingredients do they contain and how might they affect your dog?
Can dogs eat Mentos Chewy Mints?
There are fourteen different flavours in the chewy mints range.
And all of these are safe to eat because none of them use xylitol as a sweetener.
The main ingredients across all of these flavours are the same.
And I want to focus on six of these ingredients.
And they are:
- Wheat Glucose Syrup
- Hydrogenated Coconut Oil
- Citric Acid
- Rice Starch
- Natural Flavours
So let me explain a bit more about each of these strange ingredients and see how they might affect your dog.
We all know what sugar is, how delicious it is to eat and what impact having too much of it can have on our health…
But what is it like for dogs?
As far as we know sugar might taste as delicious to dogs as it does to us.
Scientists know that dogs can taste and identify sweet flavours.
But how does it harm them?
Too much sugar will make a dog fatter and it will rot their teeth.
Vets report that 10% of dental problems related to dogs are due to tooth decay.
Wheat glucose syrup
This is another sweetener and will perhaps also be used to thicken the Chewy Mints.
The main danger to your dog from this syrup is to their waistline.
The syrup doesn’t contain many (if any) vitamins and minerals.
I don’t know what impact this might have on a dog that is gluten intolerant.
There is a chance of a reaction because of the wheat.
But I guess it all depends how many mentos the dog eats and how big the dog is.
Hydrogenated coconut oil
Coconut oil is dog friendly but it is very high in fat.
This is used to enhance taste and texture.
Did you know that more than two million tons of citric acid are made and used each year?
No, maybe not!
It occurs naturally in lemon and limes and will not harm your dog.
Another “harmless” ingredient as far as your dog is concerned.
Many people confuse rice starch with rice flour but they are different.
Rice starch is used to make foods because it has almost no flavour but it has a wonderful creamy texture.
As I’m sure your dog would agree…
These are any flavourings which are derived directly from a fruit or vegetable. In the case of Mentos, most of the flavours used will be fruit.
And as this article draws to a close I want to look at Mento’s third product range- their mint range.
Can dogs eat Mentos Mints?
There are two different flavours of Mentos Mints- Intense Peppermint and Intense Wintergreen.
And as I looked at the ingredients, I was quite surprised.
Because the products are both mints, I was expecting xylitol to be included as an ingredient.
Partly this was because so many of the flavours in the Mento Gum range are mint and since most of those include xylitol, I was expecting the worst.
But I was wrong- Peppermint and Wintergreen are xylitol free.
The ingredients look a bit scary because they are essentially a list of chemicals rather than food products.
Importantly, none of them will poison your dog, I promise.
So what is in these mints?
This is an interesting one.
Sorbitol is another sugar alcohol but, unlike xylitol, it won’t harm your dog.
And nobody quite knows why this is.
Why two sugar alcohols should behave so differently when ingested by dogs.
In larger doses it can have a laxative effect mind you.
Delightfully vague, don’t you think?
If natural flavours are derived directly from fresh foods or indeed anything that is edible then an artificial flavour is one that is derived directly from chemicals or a combination of chemicals.
No artificial flavour is a known toxic to dogs
From an artificial flavour to an artificial sweetener.
Aspartame is sweeter than sugar.
Although some scientists believe there is a link between this sweetener and cancer, this has been ruled out by several national food agencies- such as the FDA in the US and the European food agency.
And of course this concern was about the use of aspartame in human foods and had nothing to do with dogs.