Dogs should never consume soda for a few different reasons. Soda contains both caffeine and sugar, which are harmful to dogs. Caffeine is blatantly toxic, leading to adverse neurological effects and sometimes even death. Sugar is less troublesome but can lead to obesity and health issues after extended consumption.
Even caffeine-free and sugar-free soda isn’t a good option for your dog. Many sugar-free sodas include artificial sweeteners. Sadly, many artificial sweeteners are toxic to dogs. Some of these sweeteners can cause toxicity problems rather quickly.
If drunk for a long time, sodas can cause weight gain, diabetes, and similar issues. Caffeine can lead to significant problems like seizures and minor problems like restlessness. What your dog experiences largely depends on how much they consume, its weight, and its sensitivity level.
Some dogs can drink a decent amount of soda before adverse effects occur. However, other dogs may be particularly sensitive and experience side effects with only a few licks.
However, soda doesn’t provide any health benefits, so there is no reason to chance fate and give it to your dog. You should keep soda away from your dog as much as possible. If your dog does lap up a few drops off the floor, there probably won’t be many problems. Unless your dog is tiny, old, young, or sensitive, a few drops won’t do anything.
For this reason, soda consumption isn’t an emergency for dogs, but it isn’t something we recommend.
Reasons to Avoid Soda for Your Dog
Most sodas include high amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is potentially deadly for just about any creature, including humans. However, because humans are so big, we can safely consume quite a bit of caffeine. (But adverse effects can still occur if we drink too much.) Dogs are often much smaller and tend to be more sensitive to caffeine overall.
For this reason, dogs are more likely to feel restless and jittery after consuming even a tiny amount of caffeine. If enough is consumed, even worse effects can occur. For instance, your dog may develop neurological symptoms, increase heart rate, and even have seizures.
Soda has varying amounts of caffeine, and some sodas have no caffeine. Therefore, whether you should be worried about caffeine or not varies. Still, even caffeine-free sodas may have other adverse effects.
Most sodas are high in sugar. Luckily, sugar isn’t toxic to dogs. However, it isn’t exactly good for dogs, either.
Your dog’s blood sugar will rise substantially after consuming lots of sugar. Your dog may experience some adverse side effects from this, including hyperactivity. Some dogs may experience worse effects, though, such as those with diabetes. Any dog with trouble regulating their blood sugar may experience particularly adverse effects.
If consumed for an extended period, sugar can cause other issues, too. For instance, sugar is mostly empty calories. Therefore, your dog can fill up on sugar without getting any of the nutrients they need. If your dog does this regularly, nutritional deficiencies can occur. Your dog needs to be consuming their regular diet – not soda.
Too much sugar can also lead to obesity. Sadly, obesity is a real problem for many dogs in the United States. Just like in humans, obesity is linked to various problems, including cardiovascular issues. Obese dogs are very likely to experience poor health outcomes.
Obesity is entirely preventable. It is one of the few health problems a dog’s owner can genuinely prevent. Therefore, it’s important to control at least this factor of your dog’s health.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
Diet sodas that are mostly or entirely sugar-free are also unsafe. These sodas include artificial sweeteners, which is why they taste sweet without containing sugar. While these artificial sweeteners are safe for humans, they are not for dogs. In fact, many artificial sweeteners are highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol fits into this category, for instance.
Dogs don’t respond to artificial sweeteners the same way humans do. When a dog consumes some types of artificial sweeteners, their body thinks they have eaten sugar. Therefore, their body will release insulin, which is required to control blood sugar. However, because the dog hasn’t eaten sugar, their blood sugar will drop dangerously low.
In this way, artificial sweeteners are one of the most toxic substances to dogs. They can cause lethargy, seizures, coma, and death. Smaller and younger dogs are more prone to problems due to their lower body weight.
Carbonation is one of the least troublesome reasons to avoid soda. However, in some cases, too much carbonation can be deadly.
Usually, dogs won’t be affected much by carbonation. They may become gassier, just like people. Luckily, this gas is typically expelled naturally and without any hiccups.
In a small subset of dogs, this may not be the case, though. Larger dogs with deeper chests are prone to having gas issues. These dogs are more prone to bloat, which occurs when the stomach fills up with gas and twists. This condition requires quick veterinary care, as the dog can no longer dispel the gas. The stomach will continue to fill, cutting off blood flow and potentially rupturing.
Sadly, we don’t know precisely why bloat occurs. Sometimes, dogs seem to have no warning signs and suddenly develop bloat. Other times, there may be a more precise cause of bloat, such as a dog that gobbles down its food too fast. Because bloat involves a lot of gas buildup, it makes sense that consuming a bunch of gas in carbonation could put a dog at higher risk.
Therefore, the carbonation in soda can be dangerous – even if it technically has no troublesome ingredients like sugar or artificial sweetener.
5. Toxic Ingredients
Sodas can include other toxic ingredients too. Sodas can vary a lot, with new flavors and variations always coming out. Therefore, it is hard to list a complete list of toxic sodas.
Many essential oils and flavorings in sodas are toxic. These may be entirely safe for humans and toxic to dogs, even in low amounts. Citrus oil falls into this category, for instance.
Some preservatives and dyes may also harm dogs, even if they are safe for people. Because sodas are designed for human consumption, many may include these troublesome ingredients without listing any warnings.
What Happens If Your Dog Drinks Soda?
If your dog consumes soda, they likely won’t experience significant complications – assuming they didn’t drink a whole can. Most dogs that lick a few drops of soda off the floor aren’t going to show any signs of distress. If anything, they may just become slightly more active.
However, there are many cases where dogs may react more adversely to soda. Young and small dogs are more sensitive to caffeine, sugar, and other ingredients. Therefore, they are also the most likely to develop adverse side effects from drinking soda. If your small dog drinks an ounce or more of soda, you should contact your vet.
Older dogs and those with underlying health issues are also more prone to problems. The liver or kidneys often filter toxic ingredients. Dogs with existing liver and kidney issues are more prone to toxicity, as their body can’t get rid of the toxin as quickly as other dogs. Dogs with diabetes cannot regulate their blood sugar, leading to massive spikes after drinking soda.
Not all underlying diseases will come into play when your dog consumes soda. However, many of them will. When in doubt, it is best to speak to your vet. They know your dog’s history the best and can advise on how to proceed.
Soda isn’t safe for dogs for many different reasons. Most sodas contain both sugar and caffeine. These two ingredients are unhealthy for dogs, especially caffeine. Too much of either can lead to various side effects. Caffeine can even cause heart failure if consumed in very high amounts.
Sugar-free sodas often contain artificial sweeteners. These are not good for our dogs in the least. Some are very toxic and can cause problems after your dog only consumes a small amount. Xylitol is one of the most toxic artificial sweeteners, for instance.
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