For those who don’t know, fruit snacks are fruit-flavored gummy-like candies. Originally marketed as a healthier alternative to conventional gummy candies like gummy bears, fruit snacks lean more towards being fruit flavored.
This can be seen in their manufacturing process. Unlike gummy bears that usually use high-fructose corn syrup, gummy fruit snacks get their sugar from concentrated fruit juice.
This is also the main source of the vitamin content of the products. Since real fruit concentrates are used to make fruit snack products, each piece of fruit snack would theoretically have the same amount of vitamin C, vitamin E, and other nutrients that can be found in a comparable volume of concentrated fruit juice.
Fruit snacks: Not as Healthy as the Packaging Claims?
The fruit juice gives the snacks both their sweetness and its flavoring, which is part of why manufacturers like Kellogg’s and Welch’s Fruit Snacks argue that they’re healthier than most gummy snacks.
However, some studies have found that fruit snacks are actually far sweeter than your average gummy snack, making fruit snacks bad for your health and even worse for your dogs’. This is in spite of whatever potential benefits being entirely fruit-based offers.
Biggest Risk Factors to Letting Dogs Eat Fruit Snacks
Too much sugar
For starters, fruit snacks are mostly sugar. 57 percent, to be exact. That alone doesn’t make it an ideal snack for dogs, especially if you think of it as an easy way to give them a vitamin boost.
Giving your dog more than a few fruit snacks is likely to cause stomach upset and other digestive issues. But depending on your dog’s sensitivity to sugar, it may accelerate the development of metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
Not to mention, overconsumption of complex sugars does no favors to your dog’s teeth.
Sensitivity to fruit flavoring
Despite being marketed as using natural fruit juice for flavoring, fruit snacks are still likely to contain artificial flavors that will be detrimental to your dog’s health.
Not to mention that any one of the various fruit flavors in each package can turn out to be an allergen for your dog. If you know that certain fruits cause allergic reactions in your dog, refrain from feeding them fruit snacks that include these fruit flavors.
And finally, many brands of fruit snacks contain grape flavor, which almost all dog owners know is highly toxic to dogs.
Healthy Alternatives to Fruit Snacks
If your dog has a sweet tooth and you want to use this as a vehicle to get more essential vitamins in his or her body, you can get much more benefit from these healthy snack items rather than giving your dog fruit snacks.
Most of the time, the best fruit snack is an actual fruit. Instead of letting your dog eat Welch’s fruit snacks or Motts fruit snacks, just give them real fruit.
Plain and simple, you can just feed your dog some real fruits to get all of their benefits with none of the harm caused by artificial flavors like corn syrup or refined sugar.
For example, you can let your dogs eat watermelon. Dogs can eat dragon fruit or berries instead, whole or in chunks and bits for easier chewing.
Fruit treats made for dogs
If you specifically want fruit-flavored, bite-sized treats to give your dog, there are plenty of brands that offer treats that are specifically meant to satisfy your dog’s craving for fruit snacks.
Several jerky- and grain-based treats also add in some apple or banana flavoring to give some sweetness. Since these are designed to be dog food, they’re much better than simply throwing your dog a handful of fruit snacks.
There are also mint-based dental chews that use fruit flavoring to be more palatable. These have the added bonus of helping your dog deal with mouth bacteria that can cause bad breath, too.
Homemade fruit snacks
Perhaps the best way to give your dog fruity snacks to chew on is to make them yourself. There are plenty of recipes online for making your own fruit snacks, and all you really need is some fruit puree and gelatin.
The best thing about this is you can tailor the amount of sugar and other nutrient content that your dog gets, so you can account for certain sensitivities in your dog’s diet.
For example, if your dog needs more dietary fiber or other nutrients, you can easily add that to the recipe of the homemade fruit snack you’re making.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will fruit snacks hurt dogs?
Eating fruit snacks won’t immediately hurt your dog, but since it’s intended for human consumption, too many fruit snacks will lead to negative health effects .
What happens if a dog accidentally eats a fruit snack?
Just one or even one handful of fruit snacks can’t really hurt. The trouble comes from dog owners getting into the habit of feeding their dogs fruit snacks and other sweet treats not intended for dogs.
What is a good fruit snack for dogs?
Dogs are much better off eating actual fruits. But if you want treats that are easier to prepare and portion, there are commercially available fruit-based treats out there.
Alternatively, you can also make your own fruit snacks.
Can a dog eat a fruit gusher?
Fruit gushers are even higher in artificial sweeteners like corn syrup, so while a dog can eat one without experiencing immediate ill-effects, it is still inadvisable for them to do so.