Animal crackers were invented in the 19th century in England. They quickly became a big hit in the United States and elsewhere. Although Nabisco (the “National Biscuit Company”) didn’t invent them, they came up with the Barnum and Bailey Circus theme. They sell more than 40 million packages of their animal crackers each year. Do you like animal crackers? Wondering if your dog can safely eat animal crackers? We’ll tell you more below.
If you’ve had animal crackers, you probably recall that they are slightly sweet, like a cookie. However, they are made with a dough like crackers. They are a little different than other snacks though similar to graham crackers. There are different varieties (including some that are chocolate). Different brands may also have some differences. We’ll look at the most common animal crackers. (If you’re really crazy about animal crackers, you can visit animalcrackers.net, which has everything about these treats, including recipes for making them at home.)
Most sites we checked consider 17 animal crackers to be a serving (31 grams). That amounts to 140 calories. It has 4 grams of total fat with 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of protein, and 24 grams of carbohydrates. The carbs have 1 gram of dietary fiber and 8 grams of sugars. The animal crackers have 95 mg of sodium.
Animal crackers are not especially high in fat but they are high in carbohydrates.
Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin b1], riboflavin [vitamin b2], folic acid), high fructose corn syrup, sugar, soybean oil, yellow corn flour, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, calcium carbonate (source of calcium), baking soda, salt, soy lecithin (emulsifier), artificial flavor.
The ingredients are similar to what you would find in many cookies and snacks. Wheat four, corn flour, and soy can be allergens for some people. High fructose corn syrup is blamed for much of the obesity in Americans today. It’s used in soft drinks and has come to replace sugar in many foods. Obesity is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
Of course, eating a few animal crackers, even if they do contain high fructose corn syrup, is not going to hurt you. But eating a lot of them can be a problem.
The bottom line for animal crackers and nutrition is that they are not what we would call healthy treats but they could be worse. Most cookies and treats do contain sugar, flour, and ingredients that are not completely healthy for you. If you want to eat animal crackers, limit them to small servings. If you want healthy crackers and cookies, you will have to find something else. Remember that just because it says “healthy” on the label doesn’t mean it’s true. Always check the ingredients.
Can you give your dog animal crackers to eat?
Just as animal crackers are only so-so in terms of health and nutrition for humans, they aren’t exactly healthy for dogs either. You can give your dog a few animal crackers occasionally. There is nothing toxic in the basic animal crackers recipe (as long as you aren’t buying animal crackers with chocolate or another ingredient that is harmful to dogs). But there is nothing really beneficial in the snack either.
If your dog is allergic or sensitive to wheat, corn, or soy, you should avoid giving him any animal crackers. These ingredients can lead to an allergic reaction in your dog.
Signs of an allergic reaction or food sensitivity in dogs
- Facial swelling
- Chronic ear and skin problems
If your dog doesn’t have these allergies or food sensitivities, you should be able to give him a few animal crackers. High fructose corn syrup and sugar are not good for dogs but the amount that’s found in a few cookies shouldn’t be a serious problem.
If your dog is diabetic, you should avoid giving him animal crackers. The sugar and high fructose corn syrup are obvious problems for these dogs. Any dog that needs to control blood sugar levels should avoid animal crackers.
We checked online to see if any animal crackers contained xylitol. We didn’t find any brands that sold them, even brands that had sugar-free versions. There are a number of keto and paleo recipes online that are sugar-free or low-sugar but even they seem to use other sugar substitutes. We do encourage you to always check the ingredients to make sure they don’t contain xylitol (or “birch sugar”) since it can be fatal to dogs.
How many animal crackers can your dog eat?
If you keep in mind that 17 animal crackers has 140 calories, you could give a small dog several little cookies. Medium and large dogs could eat up to a full serving of small animal crackers.
If you really want to give your dog animal crackers, several brands make cookies that are intended for dogs. They are made with peanut butter, honey, and no artificial flavors so they are a better choice than the human version. They look like animals, just like the human versions of animal crackers. Check Chewy.com, Amazon, and other pet food retailers.
How often can you give your dog animal crackers?
We suggest that you don’t give your dog animal crackers more often than once per week. Even if he isn’t bothered by wheat, corn, or soy, the sugar and high fructose corn syrup isn’t good for dogs. Too many treats too often starts to add extra calories and weight to your dog. Even if your dog only eats a few animal crackers each time, high fructose corn syrup increases the appetite, making your dog want more food.
Animal crackers have been around for a long time. They bring back happy memories for many people. Not quite a cracker or a cookie, they are a tasty snack. Like many treats, too many are not good for you. There is nothing toxic to dogs in plain animal crackers but they are not really a healthy treat. Some dogs can be allergic or sensitive to the wheat flour, corn, or soy in animal crackers. High fructose corn syrup and sugar can add pounds. If you want to give your dog animal crackers, only give a small amount occasionally. Better yet, look for animal crackers that are specifically made for dogs. They have healthier ingredients.