While the green and purple sticks might seem harmless, they could actually be more of a danger than you think.
Sugar cane contains – you guessed it- sugar, and quite a lot of it too, You may or may not know it, but sugar is not something that canines really need in their diet. Excess consumption of the sweet stuff can lead to complications like an upset stomach, weight gain, and diabetes.
Not only that, the plant splinters easily and in large, long chunks that can easily scrape the inside of a dog’s mouth and throat- not to mention the choking risk.
Assuming that it makes it safely into the stomach, the fibrous material can become stuck and cause an internal obstruction as dogs weren’t really designed to chew hardy grass stalks. If that happens, it’s off to the vet for a sometimes risky and expensive removal surgery.
What Is Sugar Cane
Sugarcane is a perennial grass crop, originating in Southeast Asia, which can grow to heights of 13 feet. It is cultivated in hot, tropical climates, mainly for the high sucrose content it provides.
Sugarcane is the source of cane sugar that we all know and love. Well, what we really love is the further refined product of raw,
cane sugar: crystallized white sugar!
In fact, the crop accounts for about 80% of the world’s entire sugar supply.
While they are most commonly processed into raw or refined sugar, sugarcane sticks themselves can be eaten in a variety of ways. The stalks can be peeled and chewed for a sweet treat, or can be pressed by machine to extract a refreshing juice.
Though you might expect sugarcane to just have the plain taste of sugar, the flavor is actually a little more nuanced. With hints of vanilla and a distinct ‘plant’ tang, it’s definitely a unique profile that has to be experienced first-hand.
Additionally, unlike white sugar, the plant when eaten in its pure form possesses some surprising health benefits.
Its high concentration of potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium the juice is alkaline in nature, which improves liver function, soothes the digestive system, and can even help to fight off cancerous cells.
With that said, while it may be a helpful food and drink for human beings, it is debatable whether it also provides those same positive benefits for canines.
Sugar Cane Bad For Dogs?
There are two main factors that make sugarcane an unsuitable food for your dog:
- The amount of sugar it contains, and
- Its hard, brittle exterior and tough, fibrous center.
In fact, moderate to large amounts of sugar consumption can cause some serious health issues in your dog.
While of course the sugar level of sugarcane doesn’t compare to man-made candies like Swedish Fish or Sour Patch Kids, it does still contain 12.85 grams of sugar and 58 calories per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of juice.
To illustrate just how unnecessary sucrose is to a dog’s diet, let’s just say this: even if your dog only eats 12.85 grams of sugar, that’s 12.85 grams too many.
When a dog eats too much sugar over a prolonged period, it will be in danger of gaining weight. The more weight that is gained, the more likely that the dog will develop increasingly serious issues like metabolic changes, obesity and diabetes.
Once a dog develops Type II diabetes, it will no longer be able to process sugar at all since the pancreas won’t be able to produce insulin.
While problems can and will occur over months and years, don’t discount the potential short-term negative side effects either. Stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea resulting from a sudden onrush of sugar is just as common.
This is due to the microorganism balance being thrown off in the gut. Though not fatal, it sure is uncomfortable- both for the dog, and the unfortunate owner who has to clean up the resulting mess.
Finally, as we’ve all been taught since elementary school, sugar causes teeth decay and cavities. The bacteria that live in mouths love to feast on sugar, and when they do they produce corrosive acids which then attack teeth enamel and coating.
Over 80% of dogs experience dental disease by age 3, and so adding sugar to that equation surely won’t help.
To reiterate: Sugar is one ingredient that your dog simply doesn’t need, and the sugar cane plant is literally where it comes from. Sugarcane juice for dogs is definitely not recommended.
If that isn’t enough to put you off throwing a sugarcane stalk to your dog…