Pop-tarts are one of the popular and loved snack foods around the world. They were first introduced in 1964. It is a nostalgic food item, one bite, and you are transported right back to your childhood.
They are available in a variety of flavors like Strawberry, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Cherry, Chocolate, Blackberry, Apple Currant, and many more. And the best part is one can ready the warm version within a minute.
They are such a tasty and easy-to-make food item. So, you may want to share this treat with your furry friend. But can dogs eat Pop-tarts? Pop-tarts are made using flour coated with sugar and flavors. So, is it safe for dogs to eat such a treat? Let us find out.
- Pop-Tarts – What Are They?
- Pop-Tarts – What Are They Made From?
- Can Dogs Eat Pop-Tarts?
- What About Fruit Flavored Pop-Tarts?
- How Can Pop-Tart Ingredients Affect Dogs?
- What to Do If My Dog Ate Pop-Tarts?
- What Are Healthy Alternatives to Pop-Tarts?
Pop-Tarts – What Are They?
Pop-tart is a biscuit pastry by Kellogs, complete with a sweet frosting and a filling inside. In the 1960s, this food item revolutionized the breakfast market. The marketing campaign revolved around the fact that one could prepare a delicious breakfast in 30 seconds. A toaster was all that was needed.
It became a hit with families as a quick breakfast option. Today, you can choose to put the pop-tart into a toaster at the lowest setting. You can microwave it for just 3 seconds. Or put the packet in the freezer for 20 minutes and enjoy it as a dessert.
The four original flavors that Pop-tarts were introduced were:
- Apple currant
- Brown sugar cinnamon
Today there are over 25 flavors that you can choose from. Some of the popular flavors are:
- Banana Crème Pie
- Frosted Chocolate Chip
- Frosted Chocolate Fudge
- Salted Caramel Pretzel
- Froot Loops
- Frosted Cherry
- Frosted S’Mores and many more
The company offers choices to its customers by introducing new and limited-time-only flavors.
Pop-Tarts – What Are They Made From?
Whether you are buying packaged food for yourself or your pet, make it a habit to go through the ingredients. You may unknowingly feed food to your dog that may contain allergens.
If we look at Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts, here are some of the main ingredients mentioned on the box:
- Enriched flour (wheat, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B1, B2, and reduced iron)
- Bleached wheat flour
- High fructose corn syrup
- Soybean and palm oil
- Color (red 40, yellow 6, blue 1)
As you can see from the above list, Pop-tarts contain two common allergens – soy and wheat. 2 pastries can amount to 370 calories, 320 mg of sodium, and 30 g of sugar.
If you enjoy eating Pop-tarts, they should ideally be had once in a while as desserts. Unfortunately, they do not supplement the body with essential nutrients.
Can Dogs Eat Pop-Tarts?
If your dog accidentally had a leftover piece of pop-tart on the dining table, it should be fine. But should you be deliberately feeding your dog Pop-tarts? The answer is no.
Pop-tarts are made for human consumption. When you bite into a pop-tart, you may appreciate the warm, toasted, biscuity texture on the outside and the delicious filling inside. So it is understandable that you might want your dog to enjoy the same experience.
Dogs, though, do not have an evolved and sharp sense of taste like humans. However, they can surely differentiate between sweet, salty, bitter, and sour foods. But, you cannot expect them to appreciate cinnamon sugar or apple fritter Pop-tarts.
Moreover, the ingredients used in Pop-tarts are not good for your dog’s health. A single serving is high in calories, fat, salt, and sugar. Then there are artificial flavors and colors used. Dogs do not need such unhealthy ingredients in their body. Some may even show allergic reactions.
What About Fruit Flavored Pop-Tarts?
When picking any fruit-flavored food item from the market, do not assume it would be healthy just because of the term ‘fruit.’ Pop-tarts contain fruits in dried form but also contain artificial flavors.
Some of the popular fruit-flavored Pop-tarts are:
- Frosted / Unfrosted Strawberry
- Frosted Blueberry
- Frosted Cherry
- Frosted Raspberry
- Banana Crème Pie
- Lemon Crème Pie
Let us take Frosted Blueberry, for example. If you go through the ingredient list, you will see fruits like dried blueberries, dried apples, dried grapes (this can be toxic to dogs), colors, and artificial flavors. If we consider the Banana Crème Pie, it contains banana powder and artificial flavors.
The same goes for Raspberry Pop-tarts. You will find dried raspberries, dried apples, and dried pears, along with artificial flavors.
Even if dried fruits and natural flavors are used, one serving is still high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat. So feeding the dog fruit would be a much better option. And if you want to treat your dog, there are plenty of tasty desserts you can prepare only using fruits.
How Can Pop-Tart Ingredients Affect Dogs?
Can dogs eat Pop-tarts? No, they cannot. And this section will elaborate on why you should keep your favorite snack item away from your dog.
Dogs need sugar to fuel their cells. But, this type of sugar they can get from breaking down carbohydrates. There is no need to give them candy, cakes, or any other treats. Dogs do not need granulated sugar in their diet as they add no value.
The natural sugar available in fruits and vegetables is enough for your pet. However, be careful, as not all fruits and vegetables are good for dogs. For example, avocado can lead to diarrhea, whereas grapes can lead to kidney failure in dogs.
If you are feeding your dog unfrosted strawberry Pop-tarts as a treat, it is still a lot of sugar. Excessive sugar in a dog’s diet can cause:
You will see ingredients like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose mentioned. They all mean the same thing – sugar.
2. Wheat Flour
If your dog does not have a wheat allergy, then having wheat flour should be fine. But if your dog has an allergy, Pop-tarts are not a safe food for it.
Your dog may seem fine the first time you feed it wheat. But prolonged consumption can lead to an allergy later on.
After introducing wheat into your dog’s diet, if you see the blow symptoms like:
- Ear infections
- Skin redness
Once you remove the food containing wheat from the dog’s diet, its symptoms should subside.
The palm oil used in Pop-tarts is not toxic to dogs but can have a laxative effect on them. For example, if your dog consumes palm oil, you can see symptoms like:
In severe cases, it can lead to digestive blockages and pancreatitis.
In low quantities, cooking oil is fine for dogs. But you should be aware that oils can be high in fat. If your dog has a fatty diet, consuming Pop-tarts on a daily basis, then its liver and pancreas are at risk.
Studies have shown that oils like coconut, when consumed by dogs, can lead to high cholesterol, weight gain, and hardening of arteries.
So, you should avoid giving your dog fried and fatty foods.
Dogs can safely consume salt. It is the quantity you should keep an eye on. If your dog is suffering from a liver, kidney, or heart ailment, avoid feeding them Pop-tarts at all costs. Such dogs should strictly be on a low-sodium diet, or their condition can worsen.
The problem with salt starts when you feed your dog excessive salty food. A dog with a sodium-rich diet can show symptoms like:
- Increased thirst
- Increased water intake
- High temperature
In severe cases, the dog can have tremors or seizures. A single Pop-tart will not bring about such reactions. But, regular consumption of Pop-tarts, table scraps, chips, and other salty food can be fatal for the dog.
5. Artificial Flavors and Color
As we have seen above, Pop-tarts contain artificial flavors and colors. Artificial flavors are rarely used in dog foods. Even if it is added, the particular ingredient first has to be tested and approved by the FDA.
If we consider dog food, the most common color you will see is brown. Your dog does not care if its food is red, yellow, or blue. So, there is no need to add these dyes to dog food.
For example, yellow 6 is a food dye consisting of disodium salts. Industry-sponsored tests have shown that the dye contains trace amounts of different carcinogens in it.
These common dyes can cause:
- Skin issues
Thus, as a general rule, when it comes to dog food, stay away from artificial flavors and coloring.
As a pet parent, you must know that chocolate is toxic for dogs. In rare cases, chocolate can cause death, but more commonly, it can make your pet seriously ill.
Theobromine and caffeine are the two problematic ingredients in chocolate. Dogs cannot effectively metabolize these chemicals. The darker the chocolate, the higher the risk of chocolate poisoning.
If your dog has consumed chocolate, chances are it may show delayed symptoms over several hours. So you may find it difficult to trace the cause to food like pop-tart. These symptoms can be:
- Increased water intake
- Increased urination
In severe cases, the dog can have muscle tremors and seizures. So if your dog has gobbled up the plate of chocolate Pop-tarts set aside for your kids, then it would be best to call the vet immediately. The sooner it receives treatment, the better will be its condition.
What to Do If My Dog Ate Pop-Tarts?
The answer depends on the quantity and flavor of pop-tart ingested. For example, if your dog ate half of a strawberry Pop-tart you left on the table, it might show minimal to no symptoms.
It may have an upset stomach or vomit. If the dog does vomit, restrict its food intake for some time. Please give it a smaller meal. Give it food that will go easy on its digestive system. Continue to monitor the dog for any signs and accordingly contact the vet.
If your dog has eaten several Pop-tarts, get help from the vet as soon as possible. Ingredients like grapes and chocolate can be toxic to dogs. So, if it is a chocolate-flavored Pop-tart or a fruit-flavored Pop-tart that contains dried grapes, immediate medical care would be ideal.
Store the Pop-tarts boxes in a location that is not easily accessible by the dog. Do not let the pet freely roam around the pantry. Also, do not let the dog eat from your plate. It will start expecting food and would think it is ok to have food from your plate when you are not around.
What Are Healthy Alternatives to Pop-Tarts?
If you want your pet to enjoy desserts once in a while, then there are healthy alternatives you can explore instead of Pop-tarts.
For example, give them fruit popsicles if you want to include fruits into the dog’s diet. You can blend strawberries and bananas together and freeze them. There is no need for additional sugar as both fruits taste sweet.
If it is a hot summer day, you can make watermelon popsicles for your dogs as treats. Yogurt with fruits is also a good option. But, give your dog yogurt only if it can tolerate lactose well.
Besides fruits, vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and green beans can serve as good treats. Chewing on a crunchy carrot gives the dog healthy nutrients while helping with dental hygiene.
If you want to give the dog something more filling, you can whip up some apple bacon oatmeal cookies. It may sound weird, but your dog will surely enjoy the flavor and texture combination.
Can dogs eat Pop-tarts? Oh no, they cannot. Pop-tart is a food you may have enjoyed as breakfast growing up. Or it may be a mid-afternoon snack that you have today, one that you can prepare in a few seconds. With the variety of flavors available, you may keep coming back to your favorite snack.
Pop-tart is a snack you should not be sharing with your dog. It is high in calories and has high quantities of sugar, salt, and fat. It also contains artificial flavors and food dyes.
These ingredients are not good for the dog. Regular or excessive consumption of Pop-tarts in one sitting can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and urination in dogs. Consumption of chocolate-flavored Pop-tarts can be toxic.
So, do not give your dog Pop-tarts deliberately. If it accidentally eats the snack, you should monitor it for signs and contact the vet accordingly.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.