Can Dogs Eat Strawberry Jam?

Photo by Whitney on Flickr

Have you ever been eating something that was so good that you just had to share it with someone else? It is just too delicious to keep it all to yourself.

Who better to share your delectable meal with than your best friend?

If you’re anything like me, your best friend has a tail, loves belly rubs and can melt your heart with those puppy dog eyes.

While there are many foods that are safe to share with our best friends, there are others that are very dangerous for them.

It is important to make sure we do our research before sharing something that could cause them sickness or worse. Let’s take a look at something we might think would be safe for dogs to eat.

Is it safe for dogs to eat strawberry jam?

Before we can answer that question, we need to first identify what strawberry jam is. Many times jams are confused with jellies and preserves.

A jelly is made when you take smashed fruit and cook it with sugar and pectin until it is clear and smooth like a gel.

Jellies made from berries typically have the seeds removed. A preservative, on the other hand, takes chopped fruit that is cooked with sugar, but no pectin until it is very smooth.

A jam is typically between a jelly and a preserve. To make a jam, you would crush the fruit and cook it with sugar and pectin, but not as long as you’d cook the jelly.

A jam is almost like a puree, but not smooth and gelatin like jellies. Also, jams made from berries usually keep the seeds inside of them.

Sadly, no matter how cute those puppy dog eyes are, it is not recommended to share strawberry jam with our best friends.

While none of the ingredients are specifically toxic, some, like sugars, are found in very high quantities that can have a detrimental effect on your dog’s health.

What’s more, in many of the strawberry jams that you can purchase from the grocery store there are additives that are not clearly spelled out.

These additives, when investigated further, can sometimes contain things that actually are harmful or even toxic to our dogs, even in tiny doses. 

What are the ingredients in strawberry jam?

Let’s take a closer look at each of the ingredients in strawberry jam and the effects it could have on your dog’s health.

I took a few minutes to browse several different brands of strawberry jam that you could purchase at your local grocery store.

Some jams may not have all of these ingredients and others might have different but similar ingredients. Here are the most commonly found ingredients in strawberry jam:

  • Strawberries
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Sugar
  • Pectin
  • *Fruit

Strawberries: Strawberries are actually a good fruit to share with our dogs. Like most snacks, it is best to keep the portion sizes shared to a minimum because of natural sugars found in them.

Some of the better parts of strawberries that our dogs can enjoy are the high water content, fiber, Vitamin C and even a teeth whitening enzyme.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: It’s highly unlikely that anyone would ever eat a spoonful of high fructose corn syrup, much less share it with their dog.

That being said, high fructose corn syrup is added to many foods that we purchase from our grocery stores.

While not toxic for dogs, high fructose corn syrup has very high levels of sugar that are found in small portions.

These high amounts of sugar are not good for our dogs, over the long term it can lead to obesity, diabetes and other issues. 

Sugar: Sugar is found in both homemade and purchased Strawberry Jams.

Dogs can process most naturally occurring sugars, like those found in strawberries.

But they have problems digesting large amounts of concentrated sugar, like that added to jams.

Like mentioned before, over time, large amounts of sugar can lead to diabetes, obesity and other issues in our best friends.

Pectin: Pectin is used to bind together the other ingredients in jams, and gives it its unique texture.

In small doses pectin, that has been already dissolved in water (or other fluids) can be safe for your dogs.

But safe doesn’t always mean it’s recommended, as it can cause an upset stomach. If you have pectin in your home, you need to be careful with your furry buddy.

Pectin in dry or powdered form swells up when introduced to liquid. If your dog ingests powdered pectin, it can cause breathing difficulties and create blockages that will lead to a buildup of fluid in the chest and lungs. 

*Fruit: You may have noticed that there is an asterisk next to fruit.

There were several brands that listed “fruit” or “fruit additives” or the scary “fruit acids.”

While many of these might be harmless, it’s very important to know exactly what fruits your dog might be ingesting.

This is because there are many fruits that are dangerous for them to eat. A good example of this is citrus, which dogs naturally do not like the taste of.

But, I found that ‘citric acid’ which is derived from citrus fruit is the ingredient labelled ‘fruit’ in some of the strawberry jams I checked. 

Homemade strawberry treats

Now you may wonder, what strawberry treat can I give my dog? How about homemade peanut butter and strawberry treats? To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of whole wheat flour
  • ½ Cup rolled oats
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Strawberries
  • ½ Cup Peanut Butter
  • ½ Cup Water

To get started you are going to want to preheat your oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take your cup of strawberries and blend them with ¼ cup of water until they are pureed. Set the strawberries aside for now as you combine the flour, oats and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Put the peanut butter into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for thirty seconds to make it soft enough to work with.

You will then fold the softened peanut butter and egg into the dry mix before finally adding the strawberries. You want to mix it into a workable dough, adding the rest of the ¼ cup of water as needed.

This is where it gets fun, as you roll the dough out onto some parchment paper. You can then use a cookie cutter or knife to create some fun and unique shaped cookies.

Make sure you stick a fork into each cookie to allow for air to escape. Finally, you’re going to cook them in batches for over fifteen minutes.

You need to make sure they are cooled completely before sharing these new treats with your best friend.

Make sure to store extra cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. 

Trust me, I understand just how hard it can be when our pups whip out those sad eyes as they watch us eat.

But, it is because we love them so much that we are careful what we share with them. It is true that strawberry jam is unlikely to cause any immediate problems with your pet.

But the long-term health risks and possibility of making the sick just isn’t worth it.

This is especially true when you can share fresh strawberries with them, or make a delicious treat for them like the one listed above.