Can Dogs Eat Jaggery?

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Some dogs receive treats and table snacks all the time. But should a dog lover and owner give their dog jaggery?

While jaggery is not a recommended food for dogs as is at best a treat, a single feeding - or accidental eating or jaggery probably won’t harm your dog as the sweetener isn’t toxic. Monitor the dog for symptoms to be sure, but don’t feed the dog jaggery regularly or long term.

We will discuss what jaggery is and what it can do to your dog’s digestive system when fed too much of the sweetener.

What is jaggery?

Jaggery is actually just sugar without processing. While this sweetener is called jaggery in parts of India and Asia, it is more commonly referred to as unrefined sugar in the United States. Being unrefined makes jaggery slightly more healthy - for people - because it still contains molasses, which is considered a somewhat nutritious by product of sugar. It’s also a decent source of B vitamins and other minerals. In parts of Asia, jaggery is eaten in a small amount after a meal to stimulate digestion and help prevent constipation.

Visually, it is worth noting that jaggery does not look like sugar. Jaggery comes down to boiled sugar cane, and it can appear like a a lumpy golden brown dough instead of a traditional bag of refined sugar in millions of tiny pieces.

Should I give jaggery to a dog?

While we discussed a few positives about jaggery above, these don’t exactly apply to a dog. Scientifically and technically, a dog has the sharp, jagged teeth needed to tear apart proteins for a reason: their diets do not necessarily require large amounts of carbs, if any.

What happens if I give a dog jaggery?

While we have listed some health benefits for humans, a dog’s digestive tract is not quite like a humans stomach. Not unlike you, a dog might experience more than a bit of a sugar rush. Jaggery is about 70% sucrose meaning that the dog is eating a lot of sugar, even if unrefined. Jaggery can also cause temporary inflammation and discomfort in a dog’s digestive tract. While humans might have a piece of jaggery to help a bowel movement along, a dog doesn’t often need that help, in that way.

The only positive here is that unlike some other foods like chocolate, your dog probably won’t have an immediate reaction unless they already have serious sugar and health issues.

Could jaggery give dogs long term health problems?

Yes. Giving a dog jaggery is like eating sweets too much as a human. Eventually, giving a dog a very sweet treat on repeat can lead to weight issues and problems with blood sugar like diabetes. Neither of these things are a good life experience for your pet, especially one that is currently active and enjoys running and playing.

Jaggery is also bad for a dog’s (and a human’s) teeth. Dogs are more susceptible to cavities and gum issues in the long run if they eat jaggery and sweets too often.

What kind of ‘sweet treat’ or carbohydrate should I give a dog?

Thankfully, you have lots of options regarding what to feed for your dog as a treat. Try these instead:

Whole oats

Noting that you should not give your dog much whole oats - we are talking about a tablespoon per 20 pounds of dog weight. These have little to refined sugar, are way healthier for your pup, and are also readily available at the grocery store and you probably already have some in your house!

White or brown rice

Some dog foods have rice pre-mixed in, which can be nice since it is easy to give your dog too much rice. Brown rice is more nutritious, and either color of rice should account for no more than 10% of the dog’s overall diet.

Barley

Used in many dog food recipes but is often not considered because its not commonly - knowingly eaten by humans. Just like white or brown rice, limit the dog’s intake of barley because the dog doesn’t need that many carbs, and because barley could cause digestive issues though not the same sugar and fat issues as jaggery.

Bananas

Ask your veterinarian first about bananas because they are high in sugar, but some dogs can eat a small piece of banana while larger dogs can eat nearly half of one to get the carbs needed for energy.

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are a better option than jaggery, though just like the rest of our foods, the dog only needs a small amount of a sweet potato to get a daily fill.

All of these are to say that when it comes to sugar and sweets, you should eat a little more like your dog. While it is  OK to have a sugary treat once in a while, eating something like jaggery repeatedly will lead to other health problems including weight gain and potentially diabetes.

Check your dog’s diet

Asking about jaggery should also be seen as a window to look into your dog’s diet. Do they need more carbohydrates at all? Look at the nutrition facts on your dog’s food and do a little research to see how many carbs are in their current food and whether or not they need anything supplemental to add to their diet. There is a good chance that their existing food has a balanced diet, and that feeding them something else is done more to appease the dog than to make them healthier.

Giving a dog extra food, especially sweets, is a quick gateway to having an overweight, unhealthy dog who isn’t as athletic as they used to be.

About THE AUTHOR

Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.

Read more about Mark Brunson