Can Dogs Eat Sprinkles?

Should dogs eat sprinkles? ¹

If you’re preparing to celebrate your adorable pet’s birthday and you want to make it special, you might be considering a nice cake, decorated with sprinkles, because nothing says festive better than some colorful sprinkles.

Can dogs eat human sprinkles?

Are sprinkles safe for dogs?

The good news is that yes, sprinkles are safe for dogs, if it’s a one time thing and you use them sparingly.

If you want to know whether sprinkles are healthy for dogs, that’s a whole different thing. Sprinkles are anything but healthy, for dogs or for humans. 

In this article we’ll explain why the ingredients in sprinkles are not healthy for dogs and what homemade decorations you could use to make sure your furry buddy doesn’t get an upset stomach on his birthday.

What are the ingredients in sprinkles?

The main ingredient in sprinkles is sugar. Lots of sugar. A 100g bag of sprinkles contains 75g of carbohydrates that come exclusively from sugar. Also, the said bag of cake decorations provides 375 kcal, which is quite a lot, even for a large dog, let alone a small one.

Other ingredients to be found in sprinkles are corn syrup, cornstarch, wax and artificial flavoring and coloring.

Why is sugar dangerous to dogs?

Just like us, dogs need some carbs in their diet. Carbs provide energy, but the  problem is that not all carbs are created equal. There are simple carbs, like sugar, which the body breaks down easily and which create a spike in the blood glucose level. Complex carbs, like those in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, take a longer time to process, so there’s no glucose spike.  Regular sugar consumption increases the risk of your dog developing diabetes and metabolic changes. Also, too much sugar can lead to weight problems and cavities.

Dogs with a sensitive stomach can also get diarrhea from eating too much sugar.

Obviously if you’re preparing a nice treat for your pet you won’t be using a whole bag of sprinkles. If you put some sprinkles on your pet’s cake or festive cupcake, a few grams won’t give your pet diabetes and won’t make him obese. You can add a bit of color to the festive treat, but make sure to hide the rest of the sprinkles to the back of your cupboard, so your dog won’t be tempted to get a second more generous serving.

Are artificial flavorings and colorings safe for dogs?

No. Anything that has the term artificial in its name can be potentially dangerous for both pets and their human families. 

If you look at the list of ingredients in sprinkles you’ll see mystery names such as Red 40 or Yellow 6, etc. None of them is truly safe. 

Take, for instance, Red 40. This coloring that makes sprinkles bright red is made of petroleum. It is approved by the FDA, but there are concerns Red 40 might cause migraines, allergies and developmental problems in children. Is this something you’d want your dog to eat? 

The same goes for all the other artificial colorings and flavorings. Once again, if it’s a special birthday treat, your dog will only ingest a very small quantity of these dangerous artificial ingredients. There’s no real risk to your dog’s health, but it is always a good idea to check the labels of any food product and steer clear of those containing artificial flavorings and colorings. 

Are chocolate sprinkles safe for dogs?

You should never use chocolate sprinkles on your dog’s treat. Chocolate is not safe for dogs. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, and dogs cannot metabolize these compounds as humans do. Both of them are toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. They act as a diuretic and heart stimulant, so your pet will become restless and pee a lot. Also, chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea. 

According to experts, a medium-sized 50lbs dog would need to eat about one ounce of baker’s chocolate or dark chocolate to run the risk of chocolate poisoning. If it’s milk chocolate, which has less caffeine and theobromine, it would take about 9oz to make your dog sick. 

Can dogs eat Rainbow sprinkles?

If you’re going to buy a big container of rainbow sprinkles, like those that can be found at Walmart or other similar stores, keep it under lock and key. Your dog will be very curious about the colorful container and they can chew through plastic. 10oz of rainbow sprinkles can be dangerous to dogs and he’ll probably get a tummy ache like you’ve never seen before. However, a regular 4g serving won’t create any problem if you add the sprinkles to some lovely treat. 

My dog ate sprinkles, what do I do?

If your mischievous dog managed to steal a sprinkle-decorated cupcake or lick a few sprinkles off the floor, there’s no need to worry. Nothing bad will happen to your pet even though it’s not a healthy treat for him.

However, if your dog raided the pantry and stole a whole bag of sprinkles, you might soon have to deal with an upset stomach. Monitor the dog for a few hours, but chances are he’ll be fine.

Are sugar-free sprinkle safe for dogs?

That depends on the type of sweetener used. If you look at certain keto-friendly recipes for sprinkles, you will find some made with xylitol, which is very toxic to dogs. Don’t ever give him that!

However, you can also find various types of sprinkles which are made with stevia, which is better than sugar as far as your pet is concerned. Also, some products are made with natural colorings, which are to be preferred to the nasty chemicals in the artificial ones. 

Many products contain aspartame, sucralose or saccharin, a staple in many ‘diet’ foods. They can all cause gastrointestinal upset and you should avoid these types of sweeteners altogether.  

What are some dog-safe sprinkles?

If you want to prepare a special treat for your dog’s birthday and you don’t want to risk even a mild stomach upset you can make some totally safe sprinkles, just for him. Here are a few ideas.

Colored sesame seeds

Sesame seeds are perfectly safe for your dog, if eaten in moderation that is. They are a good source of fiber, and they contain valuable minerals such as phosphorus, manganese, calcium and selenium. Eaten in excess they can cause diarrhea, though.

To create this type of sprinkles you only need a bag of toasted sesame seeds and food coloring. Try to find natural colorings.

All you have to do is soak the seeds in water and food coloring for 24 hours. The tricky part is drying the seeds. For best results,  is to spread them in a pan and put them in the oven at 300 degrees. Keep an eye on them and stir them around occasionally to avoid burning them. You can also find them for sale at specialized stores or online. 

Colored coconut sprinkles

The trick is to find unsweetened coconut flakes. Most of the products at the store have added sugar, so they’re no better than ordinary sprinkles.

You can color the coconut flakes using the method described for sesame seeds, but be very careful with the drying. Coconut flakes can get burnt very quickly in the oven. 

Another easier method is to put some coconut flakes in a ziplock bag and add just a touch of food coloring. Shake the bag well and you’ll get some healthy sprinkles. Use multiple bags to create many colors of sprinkles. This doesn’t work with sesame seeds as they don’t take to coloring easily. 

Shredded carrots or sweet potatoes

If you want to top your dog’s special treat with something that is both safe and colorful try shredded carrots or sweet potatoes.  They’re not as sweet as real sprinkles, but still sweet enough to be quite palatable. And your dog won’t know the difference anyway.

If you want to add more color, drop a few berries, small banana pieces or other pieces of fruit. 

Carob chips instead of chocolate

Chocolate is a big no-no as far as dogs are concerned. Carob chips are a great alternative. They even look a bit similar to chocolate flakes, but are way healthier. Carob chips and carob powder are made from the pod of a carob tree. The pulp in the pod is dried and roasted. It is naturally sweet and its flavor is nuttier than chocolate. 

Can dogs eat food glitter?

Edible glitter is not much different than sprinkles. It’s still made of sugar, so the risk is the same. Your best option is to look for edible glitter made from gum arabic, which is a safe and natural ingredient. 

Closing thoughts:

If you’re preparing a surprise party for your dog’s birthday, you can make his special treat look more festive by adding a few sprinkles. That’s why they are called sprinkles, because you just sprinkle some on a cake. Consumed in moderation they won’t cause any problems, although they are full of sugar and they probably also contain artificial flavorings and colorings. 

However. If you don’t want to take any chances you can prepare healthy sprinkles using sesame seeds, coconut flakes, carob chips or shredded vegetables, such as carrots or sweet potatoes. Just don’t use any chocolate sprinkles!

Photo credits

¹ Photo of sprinkles by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Sarah Pulsen

Hello, I have been in love with dogs since I was a little girl. I became even more infatuated with them when I was told by my Mum that I couldn't own one. Since I left home there has rarely been a time in my life when I have lived without a dog. My current dog is a Collie Terrier cross, called Ian.