The festive season in India is underway! It is a time of celebration, and what is a celebration without sweet delicacies? From mouth-watering gulab jamuns to crunchy jalebis glowing in their bright orange, modak in its crunchy or soft form to the rejuvenating taste of payasam, there is no doubt that Indian sweet dishes are unmatched. They are a must for the entire family during a festive season. But what about the four-legged members of the family?
While they’re most definitely family, they are biologically different from us and it’s an important point to keep in mind. Indian sweets are majorly made up of sugar, dairy products, and other ingredients that may be fatal to dogs. So let us take a look at how mithai’s may be harmful.
Sugar is sweet, but not for dogs.
“Keep that halwa away from me, I need to live longer than the cat”
Most people may have heard from word of mouth that sugar is bad for dogs. But how, and why? Sugar is considered to be empty calories for dogs. Dogs metabolize energy by converting mainly carbohydrates into energy. So eating sweet dishes leads to an excess of sugar in the body that leads to several implications.
- Diabetes - A dog’s body converts carbs into glucose for energy. If a dog ingests excess sugar, the insulin in the body is unable to guide the conversion of carbs into glucose, leading to excess glucose in the blood. This excess glucose in the blood can harm organs in the body, especially the kidney. In this state, the body is unable to metabolize glucose into energy, it converts protein and fats into energy leading to extreme weight loss even with the usual diet. Obese dogs are highly susceptible to diabetes, making Indian sweets a possible concern for their health.
- Teeth decay - Bacteria in the mouth reacts with sugar to create acids that dissolve minerals on the enamel (outermost cover of the tooth), leading to decay, cavities, and other dental problems.
- Weight gain - During the festive season, sweets are present 24/7 in the household. If dogs are fed sugar regularly, it can lead to obesity, which leads to a lot of stress on their hips and joints. Also as mentioned earlier, obese dogs are highly susceptible to diabetes.
- Vomiting and other digestive issues - Feeding a dog sugary treats affect the stomach's microorganisms responsible for breaking down food. This results in vomiting and diarrhea, which is not something anyone should go through during a celebration.
It’s 2022, and healthy alternatives to food are the trend. Certain places have started using artificial sweeteners so that eating mithais can be a healthy affair. But unfortunately, even this may backfire in the case of dogs. Most artificial sweeteners contain xylitol which is also used in baked goods. It can be toxic for dogs. Some of the symptoms include a drop in blood pressure and possible seizures.
Maida messes with the gut
Maida is an integral part of Indian mithais. Imagine barfis, bundi ladoos, and Mysore pak’s without maida; you just can’t. Maida, however, contains wheat. While your dog may or may not show any illness from eating wheat products, a majority of dogs might have guts that are sensitive to wheat. It is a physical condition in which a dog is unable to process gluten, leading to diarrhea, lack of proper coat, and overall health. Also, maida is like filler food for them with no nutritional benefits. They just increase your dog’s weight.
Dairy may lead to diarrhea
“I should not have touched those barfis”
Kalakand, Ras malai, payasam, gulab jamun…we could keep going but we’ll stop, most of these delicious mithais are made from some or the other dairy products. Milk products contain lactose that a dog’s body metabolizes through an enzyme called lactase. This enzyme slowly depletes as dogs grow into adults, meaning they cannot digest milk products beyond a certain quantity. It is similar to lactose intolerance in humans. Again, not all dogs may be lactose intolerant, but many are. It can lead to diarrhea, loose stools, vomiting, and other unpleasantries for both the dog and the human.
Fried food may be fatal
Anything fried should be avoided in the case of dogs as it is toxic for them. Fried food is very fatty and could lead to the development of pancreatitis. Eating fried food could lead to pain in the abdominal region, loss of appetite, fever, and developing a hunched posture.
No to nuts (and certain dry fruits)
There is a controversy about whether a raisin completes a ladoo or is just unnecessary. But we’re not going to comment on that. What we can say is that certain nuts and dry fruits may be harmful to dogs. Raisins especially are toxic to dogs and a vet needs to be consulted in case of ingestion.
Pistachios, walnuts, pecans, and some other nuts contain aflatoxin that is toxic to pets, leading to gastroenteritis and bladder stones.
Can’t have chocolate.
Soan papdi, barfi, and many other such mithais have been fused with chocolate in recent times. While most parents know this, we must reiterate that chocolate is BAD for dogs. They contain theobromine that your dog cannot metabolize properly. From bars to flavorings, keep chocolate away from your dogs. In case a pup has ingested it, call a vet and seek help immediately. Adult dogs may show signs a little later on, so keep an eye on them.
Now that we have seen the reasons why Indian sweets are bad for dogs, you must be wondering how dogs can celebrate these auspicious festivals. Don't worry, there are many ways to celebrate the festivals with them.
- You can feed them a dog-friendly Gajar ka halwa which is shredded carrots with xylitol-free peanut butter. Avoid human gajar ka halwa which has sugar, milk and mawa.
- You can treat them to some fine cuts of boiled meat, with a dash of delicious vegetables like pumpkin, and sweet potato, with a topping of fresh barley.
- Try different recipes for the meals. Is your dog running away from vegetables? Add toppings like dehusked peanut butter (xylitol-free only). Mix in veggies with meat or fruits that are safe for dogs and blend them into a smoothie.
- There are many dog treats out there that are healthy and made with chicken and tasty flavors like strawberry, honey, berries, peanut butter, and more. These could be a great way for your dog to celebrate a festival.
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*Disclaimer: This blog is vet-approved and includes original content which is compiled after thorough research and authenticity by our in-house team of vets and content experts. It is always advisable to consult a veterinarian before you try any products, pet food/treats, or any kind of treatment/medicines on your pets, as each pet is unique and will respond differently.