If you have kids, it’s likely that your dog will eat some Jello from time to time. Kids like to share and dogs are more than willing to oblige. Should you be concerned? Or, can dogs eat Jello as a treat? Learn more about Jello below.
Jell-O is a brand name but Jello, in general, is a gelatin dessert made from powdered gelatin and water. It comes in lots of fruit flavors and colors. It usually contains sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Gelatin has been around for a long time. Gelatin is a protein made from collagen that comes from boiled bones and connective tissue. It’s been used in foods and desserts for hundreds of years.
There are some gelatins that are made from non-animal sources. Agar and carageenan, derived from different kinds of algae or seaweed, are both used as thickeners or gelling agents. Both substances are used in some wet pet foods.
As for nutrition, Jello is low in calories and fat-free. However, it doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrients. Jello is high in sugar and provides little protein and no fiber.
One-half cup of Jello contains 84 calories. It has no fat, no cholesterol, and 1.6 grams of protein. It has 101 mg of sodium and 19 grams of carbohydrates with 18 grams of sugars. It has no dietary fiber. It has 4.1 mg of calcium but hardly any other vitamins or minerals.
A serving of sugar-free Jello containing aspartame has only about 13 calories with 1 gram of protein and no sugar.
Some of the sweeteners used in Jello include the artificial sweetener aspartame, sucralose, and sugar. Studies with both animals and humans have shown that aspartame may damage cells and cause inflammation. Artificial sweeteners may also upset the digestive system.
Gelatin desserts also use artificial flavors which can be made from various chemicals. The colors used in these desserts can be made from natural or artificial colors. Some colors are natural, using carrot or beet juice. However, many of the colors are made from artificial dyes. You will find red dye #40, yellow #5 and yellow #6, as well as blue dye #1 in some Jellos. Red dye #40, yellow dye #5 and yellow dye #6 have been associated with cancer in some studies.
The collagen in Jello may have some health benefits. It may help reduce joint pain. There is also some indication that it could help bone density in post-menopausal women. Liquid collagen supplements have also been associated with improved skin hydration and elasticity in older women. However, the amounts of collagen needed for these benefits would be much greater than that found in Jello.
Allergic reactions to gelatin desserts are rare but they can occur.
Overall, the sugar and artificial colors in Jello outweigh most of the health benefits. This is a fun dessert to eat occasionally but not something that you should eat all of the time.
Can you give your dog Jello to eat?
Jello is low in calories and fat-free but it has few, if any, nutrients. It also has food coloring, some of it from artificial dyes. And it can have artificial sweeteners. This is not a healthy food for your dog.
But we know that dogs usually want to eat what you eat. Or, if you have children, there’s a good chance that your dog will eat some Jello occasionally. If that’s the case, a small helping of Jello now and then won’t hurt your dog.
We do suggest that you avoid intentionally giving your dog his own cup of Jello. The sugar and artificial sweeteners are not good for dogs in the short term. Some of the other ingredients in Jello are not good for your dog in the long term.
Aspartame, used in some Jello products, is not toxic to dogs the way that xylitol is, but it can cause gastrointestinal upset. Sucralose, used in other Jello products, is not toxic but it can cause diarrhea. We didn’t find any xylitol in Jello products but some use saccharin or acesulfame-K. Saccharin can cause gastrointestinal problems.
As with humans, allergies to Jello in dogs are rare but they are possible. If you notice your dog having an allergic reaction or sensitivity after eating Jello, contact your veterinarian.
Signs of a food allergy or food sensitivity
- Facial swelling
- Chronic ear and skin problems
If you notice these symptoms after your dog eats a Jello product, contact your vet right away.
How much Jello can your dog eat?
It would be safe to give your dog a spoonful of Jello if you are eating some yourself. We don’t recommend that you plan to give your dog his own serving of Jello because of the sugar issues and the artificial dyes.
If you would like for your dog to enjoy some of the benefits of gelatin without the sugar, dyes, and artificial flavors, you can add plain gelatin to his diet. Look for a product like Knox Gelatin. Boil a cup of bone broth (or chicken stock or beef broth). Let it cool for a couple of minutes. Add two tablespoons of the plain gelatin to the broth and whisk it in. Allow it to cool and pour into molds or an ice cube tray – anything that you want to use so you can give it too your dog later in a usable size. Refrigerate for about three hours. This is a healthy gelatin treat for your dog.
You can play with this recipe and add other healthy things to it for your dog such as some shredded chicken, bits of salmon, a little strawberry, blueberry, or banana, and so on. You can be creative and use some of the healthy foods that your dog loves. Unfortunately, gelatin doesn’t freeze well so only make enough to keep in your refrigerator for a day or so.
How often can you give your dog Jello?
If you eat Jello occasionally, your dog could share a bite. We don’t recommend that you make Jello a regular part of your dog’s diet.
Jello is a fun dessert and most dogs will probably encounter it at some time. The sugars and sugar substitutes used in Jello do not appear to include xylitol based on what we found online so it should not be toxic to dogs. However, many of the artificial sugars used can cause gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea. Jello products also often include artificial dyes. For these reasons, we do not recommend that you make Jello a regular part of your dog’s diet. If your dog gets an occasional bite, it should not do any harm but Jello is not a nutritious treat for dogs.