Stevia is a healthy sugar popularly used as a sweetener when making healthy treats, toothpaste, and snacks for pets and humans. While there is an increased use for it, is it safe for dogs to consume it?
Yes, the sweetener is safe for your canine’s consumption. The studies on Stevia have proven it to be healthier than store-bought sugar and artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
The natural sweetener comes from a plant known as Stevia rebaudiana, which originates from Paraguay and Brazil. The plant contains components that make it about 30 to 50 times sweeter than sugar.
The downside of Stevia is that it contains a bitter aftertaste that might not be pleasing to most humans and dogs.
Benefits of Stevia Compared to Artificial Sweeteners
Stevia is considered a superior option to other sweeteners in terms of taste and health benefits. Stevia being natural, there are very few processes involved when processing it. Consequently, it is free from chemicals and preservatives that might harm your furry friend.
When consumed by a dog, processed sugar will cause a spike in their blood sugar levels. Stevia has a zero glycemic index and can not cause any spike when consumed. Refined sugar is high in calories and has been well documented as one reason for canine diabetes and obesity.
Studies also show that Stevia has therapeutic benefits. While the benefits have been observed in humans, they are likely to be shared by dogs.
Some of the therapeutic benefits that your furry friend can get include protection from cancerous tumors and anti-inflammatory properties.
How Much Stevia Should I Give to My Dog?
Though Stevia is not toxic to dogs, excessive sweetener consumption can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea.
You might wonder what amount will be too much to offer to your dog. It can be challenging to determine the safest amount as there are different breeds of dogs with different sizes and energy levels.
The best way to go about it is to ask your vet to recommend the ideal amount.
Note that, Stevia is not essential in a dog’s diet. While it is not toxic, it will be better for your dog if you avoid the sweetener when making homemade snacks for them.
The Different Types of Stevia for Dog Food
Like most products in the market, there are different varieties of Stevia. The best of them for dogs is the green, raw leaf of the plant.
In its raw form, Stevia contains an abundance of nutrients such as potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and magnesium. The macro and micro nutrients available in the plants can be what your dog needs if they have deficiencies.
If you can’t get the raw plant for your dog, there are other options that you can consider. They include:
It is the most popular form of Stevia that is readily available for use. It is made from the extraction of rebaudioside, the sweetest part of the plant. It goes through several processes to balance its flavor, such as bleaching and chemical reactions.
Ensure you read the label of the brand you are purchasing to know all the ingredients used in processing before giving it to your canine. If any of them is toxic to your dog, avoid the powder.
Tinctures and Dried Leaves
Tinctures are liquid Stevia made from the plant’s leaves. They can include natural flavorings to create a balanced flavored profile.
Dried leaves are primarily pure and unprocessed.
The two forms can be added to dog meals and treats.
Stevia is the best substitute for artificial sweeteners if your dog has a sweet tooth. However, always be careful when offering it to your dog so as not to overdo it. The sugar can affect their health negatively when consumed in large amounts. When purchasing store-bought brands, ensure that the additional ingredients on the label are dog friendly.