Is it safe for dogs to drink juice?
The shortest answer to this question is, “it depends”. Fresh fruit juices, such as apple juice or orange juice can be given as an occasional treat. But juices made of fruit concentrate are another matter. Fresh fruit juices are neither toxic nor unhealthy for dogs, just make sure the seeds have been removed before popping them into the juicer. When given in moderation, the natural sugars from fruits won’t cause stomach upsets. However, even though most fruit juices aren’t harmful or toxic to your dog, it’s better to feed your pet whole fruits as snacks than have him drink juice. Keep reading to learn why!
What makes fruit juice unhealthy for dogs?
Even the healthiest fruit juice on grocery shelves may have added sugars, sweeteners, artificial preservatives, artificial flavors and coloring, and other chemical additives that may wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system.
Fruit juice concentrates, such as apple juice, are often used as sweeteners in many food products. They contain high levels of fructose. In humans, fructose is metabolized almost exclusively in the liver. It's more likely to result in the creation of fats (lipogenesis): in particular, very low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides, both of which increase the risk for heart disease. Moreover, recent work has shown that fructose may influence the "appetite hormones," leptin and ghrelin that may increase the risk of obesity. High levels of fructose may lower leptin and fail to depress ghrelin. Those changes would blunt sensations of fullness (satiety) and could lead to overeating.
Another downside of fruit juice concentrates is that they don’t have the nutrients -vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber - that are present in whole fruit.
Artificial Sweeteners in Juice Can be Dangerous for Dogs
There are several types of artificial sweeteners that are added to juice products to maintain the sweet taste without the excess calories of sugar. Among the most common artificial sweeteners in commercial juices is xylitol.
Xylitol in Juice
Xylitol is a very toxic chemical to dogs. Unfortunately, it’s a common additive to many products that are used by humans, such as coffee, tea, candies, peanut butter, dental products, medications, and supplements. Dogs may ingest xylitol when their owners unknowingly offer them xylitol-containing goodies.
Of particular concern among these is peanut butter, which is a popular treat for dogs. Always make a habit of reading product labels. That low-calorie peanut butter may have xylitol as one of its ingredients.
Xylitol naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables, such as apples, carrots, and raspberries. However, the amount of xylitol in these items is tiny and dogs would have to eat a large amount to make them ill.
If you think your pet has eaten something that contains xylitol, you should call your vet ASAP. You can also contact The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center or the Pet Poison Helpline. The staff can give you instructions on what to do or if there is a need to bring your dog in immediately. Don’t wait for your pet to exhibit signs of toxicity before you seek professional help because, by that time, it may be too late.
Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning include:
Other sweeteners that may be added to commercial fruit juices include erythritol, sucralose, stevia, monk fruit sweetener, and saccharine. Although these artificial sweeteners are not toxic to pets, over-consumption can lead to gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea.
“Sugar-Free” Versus “No Sugar Added” Juices: Are They the Same?
When juice or any product is labeled as “sugar-free”, it simply means that it doesn’t contain processed or natural sugars. Instead, a sugar substitute, such as xylitol or aspartame, is added as a sweetener. These artificial sweeteners contain very little or no calories.
On the other hand, “no added sugar” simply means that no additional sugar has been added during processing. However, the product may still contain naturally occurring sugars, such as the lactose in milk or fructose in fruits.
Why Whole Fruit Is Better Than Fruit Juice
While whole fruit juice is not as nutritious as fresh water, dogs can still drink small quantities of fresh fruit juice, such as apple and orange juice.
Warning: Grape juice of any form --whole fruit juice or fruit concentrate-- should never be given to dogs because it’s toxic. Consumption of grape juice may increase a dog’s risk of kidney failure.
However, offering a piece of fresh apple or orange to your dog is a much better idea than giving fruit juice. But remember, giving too much fresh fruit juice can add too much sugar to your dog’s diet. Fresh fruits are jam-packed with essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, and they’re delicious, too! Fruits also contain fiber which is good for intestinal health.
Is lemonade safe for dogs to drink?
Lemonade has lots of sugar and the citric acid that the juice contains can cause dogs to develop an upset stomach. Sugar spikes can cause immediate and long-term health issues in dogs.
In conclusion, some fresh fruit juice may offer more nutritional value than others. While your dog may benefit from the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that may be in the juice, the nutritional benefits might not be worth it because of the high sugar content of the juice.
Sharing whole juice is generally safe for dogs, but it’s not necessary. If you really want to share whole juice with your canine buddy, do so in moderation occasionally.
Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your dog’s diet or another condition?
Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.