Can Dogs Eat Molasses?
Posted by Volhard Dog Nutrition on Aug 15th 2022
There is no such thing as adding molasses as a supplement to your dog's diet. But why is it in some foods? Well, that is a different nutritional story. One type of molasses offers nutritional value to dogs, and that is blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses for dogs? Rich in iron and B vitamins, it is an excellent addition to homemade dog treats or food.
Blackstrap is a by-product of the sugar industry — the dark liquid left after the sugar has been removed from the sugar cane. Ironically, the main product, sugar, is depleted of its vitamins and minerals, and the blackstrap is full of them!
In a nutshell, molasses, whether in dog treats or simply added to their food, has the potential to enhance your dog's diet. But not all molasses amounts to a healthy option, which is why dog parents must learn to distinguish between light, dark, and blackstrap molasses. Also, molasses might contain traces of xylitol, one of the artificial sweeteners with harmful effects on a dog's digestive system.
Even though certain types of molasses (e.g., blackstrap molasses) are healthier than others, they all have a common denominator: their sugar content can be hazardous to your dog. With one in three overweight dogs and one in five obese dogs in the United States, your furry friend needs to watch their sugar intake. Therefore, keep your dog away from molasses in case they're a notorious couch potato!
Today's article will paint a clearer picture of how you can turn molasses into a tasty, healthy treat for your dog!
What is Molasses?
This natural sweetener is extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are crushed in the sugar-making process. In other words, molasses is that thick, dark syrup you're left with after the sugar has been extracted.
However, pure molasses, with its high sugar content, packs quite a sugary punch, which is why the sugar cane or beets must be boiled a couple of additional times before it becomes dog-friendly!
Types of Molasses
The different molasses types are divided based on two criteria: sulphur dioxide and the number of times they have undergone the boiling process. We will get to the boiling process in a bit, but first, it's imperative to stress the importance of purchasing unsulphured molasses. Certain manufacturers add sulphur to the final product as a preservative — to cut down on costs and increase efficiency — but too much sulphured molasses can spearhead a thiamine deficiency in your dog's body, which, in turn, translates into weight loss and gastrointestinal (i.e., GI) distress.
#1: Light Molasses
Light molasses — or original molasses — derives from the first boiling of sugar cane or beets. It has a milder, more palatable flavor than other types of molasses, but only because of its higher sugar content. Light molasses is an acceptable addition in the process of making homemade dog treats, but only in minimal amounts. Most canine nutritionists warn against the use of light molasses in canine nutrition and suggest opting for less sugary alternatives.
#2: Dark Molasses
Dark molasses is the result of the second boiling of sugar cane or beets, relieving the final product of even more sugar content. It might not be as palatable, but dark molasses boasts a more impressive nutritional value than its light counterpart. A less sugary alternative, indeed, but still not as safe and healthy as blackstrap molasses.
#3: Blackstrap Molasses
Molasses allows for a third boiling process, out of which we get blackstrap molasses. With a very low sugar content and the highest nutritional value (lots of iron and vitamins!), blackstrap molasses is the healthiest molasses type for canines. It is highly recommended that dog parents introduce only blackstrap molasses to dogs dealing with obesity or type 2 diabetes if they want to add a pinch of sweetness to their food bowl or bake some healthy treats.
How to Feed Molasses to Your Dog
The beauty of molasses is that they allow for tremendous versatility in canine nutrition. You can feed our dog treats made with molasses and, therefore, cut down on sugar and artificial sweeteners, or simply add it to their food for increased palatability. But don't forget to check the product for hazardous substances (e.g., sulphur) before feeding it to your dog. Likewise, if your dog exhibits symptoms of digestive distress (i.e., diarrhea and vomiting), prevent further consumption and consult a veterinarian immediately.
Health Benefits of Molasses
Now that we know the difference between the various molasses types, let's look at their nutritional benefits. Right off the bat, there's a solid reason why we include molasses in our Natural Diet — it's packed with nutrients and health benefits!
Sugar cane roots can go down 15 feet to get minerals from layers of soil that have not been depleted by years of overuse. That's why sugar cane can absorb so many nutrients! And blackstrap has most of those nutrients because they are left in the blackstrap when the nutrients are removed from processed sugar.
So, what are the main ingredients in this molasses?
- Folate and B vitamins: healthy red blood cell production;
- Magnesium and calcium: healthy bones and nervous system and a healthy heart;
- Manganese: fights free radicals, stabilizes blood sugar, and utilizes fatty acids;
- Copper and zinc.
First, we recommend molasses for dogs with a history of digestive issues. Unsulphured Blackstrap molasses, in particular, acts as a natural stool softener, a valuable benefit to senior dogs! Also, it's easy to digest and boasts a valuable concentration of vitamin B6, which comes in handy when digesting fats.
Second, senior dogs have multiple health benefits to reap from this natural sweetener. Whether it's for relieving arthritis or osteoporosis, with molasses, your senior dog might rediscover their healthy bones in no time!
Third, is your dog's coat losing its color, shine, and fuzziness? Molasses is, again, the answer! With its high concentration of copper, molasses promotes the growth and restoration of hair health. Also, your dog will gradually regain the youthful color of their coat!
But the most valuable health benefit of molasses (blackstrap, in particular) resides in its ability to prevent the occurrence of type 2 diabetes in your dog in the long run. With its very low sugar content, blackstrap molasses will be healthier for your furry friend than any artificial sweetener found on the market!
How Much Molasses is Enough?
Regardless of the fantastic ways it can boost your dog's health, molasses remains a byproduct of sugar extraction — therefore, don't make it the main ingredient of your dog's diet! Moderation is the golden rule of feeding this ingredient, which is why our canine nutritionists don't recommend adding more than 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of weight to your dog's food bowl.
Also, pay close attention to the source of the molasses. Ideally, dog parents should stick with the blackstrap type for its minimal sugar content. On the other hand, store-bought molasses contains more sugar and packs ingredients your dog's digestive system is not keen on processing. Stick with a high-quality blackstrap that's free of additives.
Make Your Very Own Dog Treats with Molasses
Unsure how to include molasses in your dog's daily diet? Check out this simple dog treat recipe with even simpler ingredients!
Preparation and cooking time: 40 minutes.
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses; 1 cup of water; 1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned oats; 1 1/2 teaspoons of Brewer's yeast; 1/2 cup of peanut butter; 6 tablespoons of coconut oil; 2 cups of whole wheat flour.
How to prepare:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mix and whisk the molasses, water, coconut oil, and peanut butter together.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.
- Roll the resulting dough out to 1/2" thickness and create shapes with cookie cutters. Put the dough on a tray covered with a baking sheet and bake until firm (i.e., 25-30 minutes).
- Cool, store in an airtight container and feed to your dog!
Use Molasses as a Natural Sweetener for Your Dog's Food!
Your dog has numerous health benefits to reap from adding molasses to their diet! Volhard NDF products use this form of sugar-free molasses for their high potassium content. It also contains minerals and some B-complex vitamins. Old-time breeders used molasses with seaweed or kelp in their dog's diet to keep dark pigmentation of the nose, eye rims, and mouth. This cane or beet sugar extract is a solid replacement for artificial sweeteners, is rich in nutrients, and prevents the occurrence of type 2 diabetes in the long run! Just remember that it must not be the star ingredient of your dog's diet — feeding molasses in a disproportionate amount will only make matters worse, so don't forget to feed it in moderation. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!