V is for Vanilla

ppppVIs Vanilla/Vanilla Extract Safe For Dogs?

It's well known that dogs cannot eat chocolate.  But what about vanilla?  I've mentioned countless times that I like to make my dogs treats at home.  While most of our culinary creations are our own recipes, I do occasionally scour the internet for recipes to try.  I've come across quite a few treat recipes that use vanilla extract as an ingredient.  When making dogs treats at home, it's important to be sure that each and every ingredient you are using is safe.  Is vanilla extract safe for dogs?

kkkkkkkkkkkkThe answer is both yes, and no.  It actually depends on what kind of vanilla extract you're using.  Regular vanilla extract is not dog friendly.  Whether real or imitation vanilla, most vanilla extract brands you can buy at the grocery store contain alcohol.  Depending on the brand, vanilla extract is normally at least 35% alcohol.

I've spoken with owners who make dog treats using vanilla extract and their dogs suffer no ill effects.  If the amount of extract you use in a recipe is very small, you could argue that your dog isn't getting enough alcohol to make him/her sick.  But why risk it?  Especially when you can buy alcohol free vanilla.

Most alcohol free vanilla extracts I've seen use an ingredient called glycerin in place of alcohol.  Vegetable glycerin is an ingredient that is safe for dogs - it's even a common additive in commercial dog foods.  You can find alcohol free vanilla extracts in health food stores and also online.

Are There Any Benefits To Feeding Treats Containing Alcohol Free Vanilla Flavoring?

Vanilla beans and vanilla bean extracts do contain some good stuff like essential oils, vitamins, and minerals.  Vanilla extract does contain B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, etc.  However, most of these are present in very small amounts.  Also, most recipes will call for using vanilla in only small amounts - which means your dog really isn't going to get much in the way of benefits from consuming treats made with vanilla.

Vanilla also contains natural sugars.  When you think of vanilla most people think of sweet treats.  While small amounts of alcohol free vanilla extracts probably won't bother your dog, remember that sugar consumption often leads to GI upset.

Do I Give My Dogs Vanilla Extract?

While Kitsune does enjoy it (Fenrir hasn't tried it yet), I don't use it as a treat ingredient very often.  Because I do use alcohol free vanilla, if a treat recipe looks particularly good and calls for a small amount of vanilla, I will add it.  But honestly there are enough treat recipes out there that don't call for vanilla that you shouldn't sweat it if you don't feel like going out to buy vanilla especially for your dog.

This post is a part of the 2016 Blogging from A to Z challenge!  You can learn more about our challenge theme here

Comment below!  Have you ever fed your dog treats that contain vanilla as an ingredient?  Did you know that most vanilla extracts contain alcohol?