I was quite surprised when I first found sugar as an ingredient in dog food. And what seemed like a rare case at first, turned out to be a very common practice of the pet food industry. I guess our all instinct would tell us that sugar does not belong in pet food. It‘s certainly not what cats and dogs would naturally eat and why should something that is so unhealthy for us humans be good for anyone else?
So why do companies put sugar in pet food and treats?
For one, it functions as a natural food coloring, making the cooked meat more brown. (Really? As if…) But there is more to it. While the pet food companie‘s only other official reason is, that sugar gives the food better consistency, there is another, very sneaky reason why they add sugar.
Like humans, dogs and cats have a sweet tooth for sugar. It coveres all the bitter taste that other foods have. When we feed our pets a treat and they gobble it down, we are happy that they like it and give them more. But if we keep feeding them this sugar added food, they will develope an addiction for it, or rather will they never touch another healthier option because it might taste more bitter. This is a very sneaky way of food companies to tie custumers to their brand. Not really surprising, since this technique is used with us humans and candy too.
But is sugar as unhealthy to animals as it is to humans?
Yes, the regular consumptions of sugar can cause a lot of harm to our loved pets. Like us humans, animals can develope diabetis. Sugar also causes general problems with the pancreas and the anal gland. Their bodies are not made to process sugar. And eventhough caries is not as common with dogs and cats, because they tend to gulp rather than chew their food, they do get it.
Ironically my latest find of sugar, was in some dental health chewing sticks that were gifted to my dog Fritzi from a pet store. On the package it says: „Feed your dog 2-3 times a week.“
Ehm, no thanks.