Whether on toast, as an oatmeal topper, or between layers of cake, strawberry jam is a delicacy that adds fresh, delectable sweetness with the slightest hint of tart acidity to any dish. It makes the perfect dessert or gift for anyone with a sweet tooth – especially in spring.
Now while dogs aren’t exactly known for being dessert lovers, they do love being given food off our plates, so you may want to share this sweet treat with your pup. However, strawberry jam is packed with sugar, sugar substitutes, thickeners, and other ingredients that offer no nutritional value to dogs and may even be dangerous to their health. As such, it’s best to avoid giving your dog strawberry jam in any quantity.
Read on as we dive deep into the ingredients in strawberry jam that may be harmful to your dog and what risks they pose to his health. We’ll also give you strawberry jam alternatives that are safer and healthier for your dog – and that he’s sure to find just as delicious, too!
Risks of Feeding Your Dog Strawberry Jam
While fresh strawberries are safe and healthy for dogs to consume in moderation, giving your dog strawberry jam is a huge no-no. This is because the process of making jam involves adding plenty of ingredients to achieve its thick consistency and sugary-sweet taste, most of which pose health risks to our beloved pups.
Here are a few of the risks associated with giving your dog strawberry jam:
Sugar is used as the primary preserving agent in fruit preserves like strawberry jam, which means it’s included in copious amounts in both store-bought products and homemade recipes.
The bad news is that excessive amounts of sugar are twice as bad for dogs as they are for humans. Sugary foods or treats can lead to immediate adverse reactions in most pups, including:
- Bloody stools
- Upset stomach
All these reactions are due to the nature of dogs’ digestive systems. Their gut requires a certain balance of healthy bacteria and microorganisms in order to function properly, and high doses of sugar can disrupt that balance.
Giving your pup foods high in sugar, such as strawberry jam, over an extended period of time can also cause major health problems or exacerbate the symptoms of any medical conditions they already have. These may include:
- Dental problems
Sugar Substitutes & Xylitol
Low-carb or sugar-free versions of strawberry jam often feature the use of certain sugar substitutes, such as stevia or sucralose (better known as Splenda). These sugar substitutes are not toxic to dogs per se, but consuming them in large quantities can upset their stomach and cause diarrhea.
Now the sugar substitute you really need to be concerned about is xylitol. This ingredient is included in some sugar-free strawberry jam products and recipes, and it’s highly toxic to dogs. It only takes as little as 0.1g of xylitol per kilo of body weight to cause xylitol poisoning in canines.
This is because the ingestion of xylitol causes a sudden and rapid release of insulin in your pup’s body, which will lead to dangerously low levels of blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Additionally, ingesting over 5 grams of xylitol can lead to liver failure.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include:
If your dog has consumed strawberry jam containing xylitol, bring him to the vet as soon as possible or call Pet Poison Helpline right away.
Corn Syrup & High Fructose Corn Syrup
Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are refined sweeteners that contain high amounts of sugar. Excess consumption of these sweeteners can lead to the same health problems that sugar causes, such as diabetes, obesity, or gastrointestinal upset.
Bonus tip: certain brands of dog food may contain these harmful additives, so make sure to check for corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup on the label.
Pectin is a key ingredient in strawberry jam, used as a gelling agent and thickener that allows it to achieve a jelly-like consistency.
While pectin isn’t toxic to dogs and even features alongside kaolin in anti-diarrheal medications made for veterinary use, it can be quite harmful to them when consumed via certain food products like strawberry jam. Eating large quantities of food with pectin can lead to symptoms like:
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty breathing
- Pulmonary edema
Citric acid not only contributes to the slightly sour taste of strawberry jam but also acts as a preservative that helps extend its shelf life.
Whether it’s in granulated or powdered form or obtained from citrus fruit juice like lemon juice, citric acid is dangerous for dogs. Consuming food products with large quantities of citric acid can lead to gastrointestinal irritation and an upset stomach.
Worse, it can even cause central nervous system depression in canines. Symptoms of this include:
- Changes in behavior
- Poor stimuli reflexes
Other Fruits or Fruit Extracts
Some strawberry jam products feature other fruits that serve as thickeners or extra flavorings. Now while there are plenty of fruits that are safe for canine consumption, there are also quite a few that may be harmful to them. These include:
High Caloric Content
Besides its high sugar content, strawberry jam is also high in calories, coming in at around 225 calories per 100g. In comparison, the average dog only needs around 200 to 275 calories per day.
Its high caloric content means it offers very little to no nutritional benefits for dogs, and can even worsen their health problems, especially if they suffer from pancreatitis or obesity.
Strawberry Jam Alternatives For Dogs
If your dog has had a lick or two of strawberry jam, don’t worry. It’s unlikely to hurt him. But if you notice him begging for that sweet treat or if you simply want to spoil him with a dessert, there are plenty of alternatives to strawberry jam that you can give him! Here are some of the options he’s sure to love:
Homemade Strawberry Purée
You can make a faux, canine-friendly version of strawberry jam by simply puréeing fresh strawberries! For an extra hint of sweetness, you can add a small amount of honey into the mixture.
Make sure not to give this treat to him too often, as it’s still high in sugar. Offering it to him once in a while can already do wonders in satisfying your pup’s sweet cravings!
Homemade Strawberry Yogurt
Strawberry yogurt offers the same sweet, fruity, and sour taste as jam – minus the high sugar and calorie content! It’s best to make your own version of it instead of getting store-bought products, as the latter may contain harmful substances like xylitol.
Mix a half cup of plain and low-fat Greek yogurt with strawberries in a blender. Blend it well, and serve it to your pup in a small cup. You can also pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and give it to him as frozen treats.
Strawberry Dog Treats
Giving your dog strawberry dog treats lets him enjoy the strawberry flavor without worrying about its potential health hazards. Because it’s made specifically for dogs, you can rest assured that it’s completely safe for him – although it’s best to limit his treats to about 10% of his daily diet as prescribed by experts.
The Wonder Snaxx Vanilla Yogurt & Strawberry Dog Chews feature sweet and fruity flavors in long-lasting rawhide chews. This treat is grain-free and gluten-free, ensuring a happy and flavorful chewing experience without putting your dog at risk for digestive issues.
Strawberry jam might be a sweet and crowd-pleasing delicacy for us, but it’s a human food that isn’t meant for canine consumption. It can cause adverse reactions in your pup and lead to a whole host of health issues. If your dog has a sweet tooth, you can indulge his cravings a little with alternatives like a homemade strawberry puree with no additives or homemade strawberry yogurt. This way, he can enjoy a lovely, strawberry-flavored dessert without worry!