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Wheat thins are popular crackers that we often reach for as healthy snacks primarily because of their whole wheat perception and the fact that they can easily be paired with other healthy toppings such as peanut butter and hummus. If you are a dog owner, you have probably wondered if you can share wheat thins with your pooch.
Potential Health Concerns
Before delving deeper into potential health concerns of giving your dog wheat thins, let first understand its composition. Common wheat thin ingredients include whole grain wheat flour, sugar, soybean oil, salt, leavening, refiner’s syrup, malt syrup, and vegetable color.
Salt and Sodium
Based on the ingredients, one of the biggest health concerns about giving dogs wheat thins is high amounts of salt and sodium. Salt and sodium is often added to wheat thins to enhance their tastes. The amount of sodium or salt in a particular wheat thin is often displayed on the packet.
Although the salt and sodium levels are deemed safe for humans, they are not safe for your canine companion. Generally, salt tolerance of dogs is lower, especially when compared to that of human beings. Too much consumption of salt or sodium may, therefore, cause blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance, and hypernatremia in dogs. That’s why it is advisable to always steer clear of dog foods with added sodium at all costs. Symptoms of salt poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, high body temperatures, and even death.
Another concern is wheat—the main ingredient in wheat thins. The presence of wheat often makes some dog owners to conclude that these cracks are a no-no to dogs. Some dogs are allergic to wheat. It is not well-understood why and how antibody response occurs but is known to occur in some dogs and may cause a lot of distress. Common symptoms of wheat-related allergies in dogs include itchy skin, hair loss, skin infections, and chronic ear infection. If left untreated, these allergies can lead to adverse health conditions and even death.
Sugar is a common ingredient in wheat thins and other savory processed foods. However, when it comes to the ingredients of a healthy dog diet, sugar doesn’t have a place. Sugar consumption is known to cause a wide range of health problems in dogs including diabetes, weight gain, irregular blood sugar, and even behavioral changes. Sugar is the main culprit for dog obesity and is also believed to be addictive for dogs.
Synthetic Vitamins and Minerals
Although whole wheat grains are often touted to be the main ingredients in wheat thins, it is clear from the ingredients list above that they also contain enriched flour, cornstarch, soybean oil, and artificial colorings. The nutritional values of all these ingredients are meager and don’t add any health benefit to your dog. Yes, even unbleached, enriched flour is nutritionally empty! While the flours are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they are stripped of germ and bran that make them truly nutritious. Besides, these added vitamins are often depleted in the processing stages and are only added back in synthetic form, which is much more inferior than the natural vitamins and minerals contained in pure wheat.
High Carbohydrate Levels
What the wheat thin ingredients add to your pooch’s system is a lot of carbohydrates. And as you are probably aware, dogs’ systems don’t respond well to most carbohydrates. Well, some sources of carbohydrates like vegetables and fruits are beneficial to dogs. However, those from grains and sweeteners may cause a wide range of health issues. To begin with, your dog’s system converts these carbs to glucose, which may cause obesity, especially if consumed in excess. These carbohydrates may also cause energy level fluctuations, which imply that your dog will be exhausted throughout the day.
Artificial Preservatives and Colorings
Finally, artificial preservatives and colorings benefit no one except the manufacturer. They don’t add any nutritional value to you or your dog. Preservatives are associated with a lot of health concerns in dogs, including cancer.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Consumed a Lot of Wheat Thins
If your pooch consumed wheat thins without your consent, try to stay calm but monitor his progress for a few hours. If he is not allergic to wheat and not sensitive to some of the mentioned ingredients, he will probably be okay. However, because wheat thins have a lot of fibers, your pup is highly likely to be gassy or experience stomach upset. If this happens, allow his stomach to rest by not giving him food and water for about 8-12 hours. After 12 hours have elapsed, consider giving him a bland diet containing rice and chicken.
If the wheat thin was smeared with dips such as ranch, guacamole, nut butter, or hummus consider taking your dog to a local vet because these dips may contain flavorings like garlic and xylitol that are extremely toxic to dogs. Even if the wheat thin wasn’t smeared with these dips, consult your vet if you notice any abnormal symptoms with your dog to help you figure out if there are toxicity risks as well tips on how to handle your pooch in the event of a reaction.
Healthier Alternatives to Wheat Thins For Dogs
If your dog has fallen in love with wheat thins—probably after tasting a piece—consider baking some for him using wholesome ingredients like rolled oats, natural peanut butter, and pureed pumpkin. This way, you will be in full control of ingredients that go into your homemade wheat thin treat.
Alternatively, get your dog treats or biscuits that are specifically made for dogs. Trust me, your canine friend will appreciate these more.
If possible, choose treats that freshen your pooch’s breathe, scrapes off tartar and plaque buildup while remaining friendly to their stomachs. Here are the best options: 8 Best dog dental chews for sensitive stomachs.
When it comes to giving your dog treats, wheat thins are one of the poorest choices you could make. While these crunchy crackers may not be toxic to your dog, they provide no nutritional benefits to your pup but are just packed with a lot of salt, empty calories, and harmful preservatives.
If you really care about your canine companion, you are much better of replacing them with healthier treats with more nutrients, less sugar, fewer calories, and processed with dog-friendly oils. If you must give your dog wheat thins, make some at home or serve him very small quantities. Skip high-calorie dips and be ready to consult a vet in case you notice any weird symptoms.