Crackers are basically just flat biscuits made of flour, water, and salt. Because biscuits are usually given as snacks or as rewards to doggies, most of us would assume crackers are okay for them too.
The truth is that many of the crackers on the market are loaded with salt. There are salt-free varieties, but we are not sure about everything that’s in there. It’s actually surprising that the plain, “unsalted” ones have more sodium than one would expect.
That might leave you wondering if they are bad for dogs or not. So, for today’s post, we’ll answer if crackers are a safe treat for our furry friends.
Can Dogs Have Crackers?
Before anything else, we have to remember that there are many types of crackers out there. With a plethora of brands on the market, it is kind of confusing which ones to get. Some can be fine for dog-sharing and there are some that are best to be avoided.
Some might say plain crackers or the vegetable–infused ones are the best types to share with pets. Don’t be fooled by such labels. Most vegetable crackers out there have an unacceptable amount of high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Besides, they are made with dehydrated vegetables.
The labels can be sometimes misleading. There’s a brand of plain crackers that have as much as 230 mg of sodium for only a 30-gram serving. That’s equivalent to 13 pieces! If your pet accidentally ate that amount, he already consumed more than twice the recommended sodium amount for canines.
Other Risks of Crackers to Dogs
Another concern we see here is not just the amount of salt or hydrogenated oils in crackers. There are also instances when dogs eat the packaging of crackers.
Those plastic sleeves, especially if they are large, can cause gastrointestinal upsets to dogs or even obstructions so it’s best to keep them in a place out of your pup’s reach.
What Are the Types of Crackers?
Not all crackers are created equal. While some are healthy, others are loaded with sodium. A canine’s sodium intake should not be more than 100 milligrams per day.
Round savory crackers like Ritz are not really bad for dogs. A piece of Ritz Crackers comes with 29.1 mg sodium. If you wish to give some to your dog, a piece or two would be enough. Even in small amounts, don’t give them too often because the salt in them is bad for dogs.
Dogs can eat graham crackers too, as long as they don’t suffer from wheat allergies. Graham is made of refined wheat and sugar that can cause itchiness for hypersensitive canines. Like the Ritz crackers, these should be offered in small amounts.
How about crackers made with sea salt? One brand of naturally baked crackers with sea salt only has around 15 mg of sodium. Table salt and sea salt have the same nutritional value, although some varieties of sea salt have a lower sodium content.
Now, what are the crackers to avoid? As much as possible, don’t offer saltine crackers to your pet. Saltine crackers are those crackers that usually accompany meals when you dine in restaurants.
Saltines are a big no-no but what if they are unsalted? Your dog will not be harmed by eating them in small amounts but they are still not recommended for a dog’s consumption. It’s better to offer some slices of carrots or air-popped, plain popcorn if you wish to give your pet a light snack.
Cheddar squares also have a lot of sodium. One brand of cheese crackers has 250 mg sodium for every serving of 30 grams or 27 pieces. Flavored crackers, such as garlic or onion crackers are also not suitable for dogs.
What To Do If Your Dog Ate Lots of Crackers?
Aside from the salt content in them, most crackers also have lots of fiber. If your buddy ate, let’s say, half of the box of your digestive biscuits, it’s highly likely that he will be gassy or have an upset stomach.
If this happens, allow your pet’s stomach to rest by avoiding food and water for 8-12 hours. After 12 hours, offer him a bland diet consisting of chicken and rice. You may also give him an over-the-counter acid reducer such as Pepcid AC. You can give 0.25 to 0.5 mg for every pound of body weight after every 12-24 hours.
Healthy Dog Crackers Recipes
Making your dog treats at home allows you to control the portion sizes, as well as the ingredients used. If you are eager to treat your pooch with biscuits every now and then, forget the crackers. The biscuits below are much healthier and are made with wholesome ingredients.
Apple Carrot Dog Biscuits
For this dish, you can skip the brown sugar. That’s just an optional ingredient. These biscuits are naturally sweet because of the apples and the carrots. But if your buddy has a sweet tooth, adding a tablespoon of brown sugar would not hurt.
- In a bowl, combine 2 and ½ cups of whole wheat flour, ½ cup of oats, and a tablespoon of brown sugar.
- In another mixing bowl, beat one large egg.
- Add in 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, ¼ cup water, a piece of grated apples and ½ cup of peeled and grated carrots.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of flour. Continue mixing until everything is well-combined.
- Once you have the dough, roll it out and cut using any cookie cutter of your choice.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for around 45 minutes, or until the apple juices are soaked and the biscuits are firm.
- Allow to cool on wire racks before serving to your pet.
Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
For these biscuits, you have the option to choose between chunky and smooth peanut butter. You are also free to use other types of flour such as rice and potato flour if your pet is allergic to wheat-based products. Just a reminder for when choosing the peanut butter: always select the all-natural varieties and those without xylitol. Here’s how to make this peanut butter-infused doggie treat:
- Combine 2 cups of whole wheat flour and a cup of rolled oats in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in 1/3 cup of chunky peanut butter. You can add a bit more flour if the dough ends up too sticky.
- Knead the dough and form a ball.
- Set aside on the countertop for around 15 minutes covered with a plastic wrap.
- On a lightly floured parchment paper, roll the dough into a ¼-inch thick layer.
- Cut using any shape of cookie cutter.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 40 minutes.
- Let them cool on wire racks before serving to your pet.
Pumpkin Oat Dog Biscuits
These biscuits use whole wheat flour, which is definitely safe for most dogs. But if your pet is allergic to wheat, you may use non-wheat flours such as potato flour, almond flour or rice flour. Pumpkin puree usually comes in canned varieties. You can make your own pureed pumpkin or buy those without spices such as cloves and ginger.
- In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of whole wheat flour, a cup of whole oats, and 1 and ½ cups of pumpkin puree.
- Keep mixing until you get a thick consistency. You may add up to 4 tablespoons of water to make the dough easier to work with.
- Roll the dough to a ¼-inch thick layer.
- Cut using any shape of cookie cutter.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 30 minutes. Allow to cool on wire racks before serving to your dog.
Important Reminders for Dog Owners
While these biscuits are created with your pet’s wellness in mind, we recommend that you check with your vet before giving them to your buddy. As we said earlier, some dogs tend to have hypersensitivities to certain foods such as wheat.
Crackers do not have any toxic ingredients, so dogs can have one or two pieces on occasion. Always be selective about the type of crackers you give your dog because some are high in unhealthy fat and sugar.
Avoid saltine crackers because of their high sodium content. Also limit giving your pet graham crackers because of the excess sugar that can contribute to weight issues and dental problems.
If your buddy there really loves crackers, consider baking some at home using wholesome ingredients such as pureed pumpkin, rolled oats, and natural peanut butter. This way, you will not have to worry about the sugar, fat, or sodium contents.