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Vanilla wafers have been around for more than a century. While they can be eaten just as snacks, most people use them in banana pudding recipes. I don’t know about you, but one of the things I love about banana puddings with vanilla wafers is the crispy bits of the wafers sprinkled throughout. The wafers tend to absorb the puddings in a unique way, making them delightfully mushy. In fact, just thinking about the recipe makes my mouth water. If you are a fan of banana pudding with Nilla wafers, you can relate! But can we share these crispy cookies with our canine friends? Well, we’ll find out shortly, but before then…
What Are Vanilla Wafers Made Of?
Homemade vanilla wafers contain flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. The ingredients of commercial vanilla wafers differ with the brand. The original Nabisco Vanilla Wafers (the leading vanilla wafers brand in the US) were made of flour, eggs, sugar, shortening, and were flavored with real vanilla. Today, however, they are primarily flavored with synthetic vanillin and contain canola oil, palm oil, corn syrup, and artificial flavors (source: ingredientinspector.org).
Can Dogs Eat Vanilla Wafers?
The short answer is: most dogs can eat vanilla wafers in small quantities without any issue. However, in large quantities, these cookies can cause a wide range of health problems in dogs because they pack a lot of unhealthy artificial ingredients.
Here are some of the reasons why vanilla wafers should be off-limits for your precious dog.
There is a lot of processed sugars in vanilla wafers—even the homemade options. Processed sugars are not good for your dog. Dogs that consume a lot of processed sugars are at risk of weight gain, cavities, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions. Even worse, each of these conditions is often accompanied by a host of other health problems. For instance, diabetes in dogs can lead to heart complications, weight gain can cause arthritis, and cavities can cause unbearable oral infections.
2. Excess Calories
According to Free Food Facts, 100 grams of vanilla wafers packs 441 calories. However, most dogs require about 25-30 calories per pound in a day to maintain a healthy weight. This implies that on average, a 30lb dog requires about 700-800 calories a day. So, if your dog is not athletic or active and you allow him to chow down a lot of wafers, you can imagine the amount of calories that you’ll be exposing him to! Remember that the harmful effects of excess calories like weight gain and the risk of cardiovascular diseases are the same as they are for humans. An overweight dog, for instance, can have a 30% shorter lifespan.
3. Hydrogenated Oils
Commercially-made vanilla wafers also contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are usually added to make them taste better and have longer shelf-life. However, hydrogenated oils can be very detrimental to the health of your dog because they increase bad cholesterol (LDL), decrease the levels of good cholesterol (HDL), increase your dog’s risk to cancer and heart diseases, and may trigger inflammation.
Go with Healthy Dog Biscuits
Instead of giving your dog vanilla wafers, why not pick up healthy dog biscuits? Dog biscuits are specifically formulated for dogs, so you won’t have to feel guilty about sharing unhealthy, junk food with your dog. If anything, they are formulated with natural ingredients to provide your four-legged friend with a wide range of health benefits, including improved skin and coat health, joint pain relief, and improved oral health among other benefits. Check out this post for the best dog biscuits that we recommend: 10 Best Dog Biscuits to Buy For Your Pup.
The Bottom line
While one or two vanilla wafers won’t harm your dog, steer clear of these sugar-laden cookies. As we’ve highlighted, they are loaded with ingredients that are not healthy for dogs. So, unless you make them yourself at home, vanilla wafers may not be the best way to reward your canine friend. If you love your dog, these sugar wafers should be off the menu. Instead, get your pooch specially-made doggy biscuits or treats. They will taste just as good to your pup as the vanilla wafers.