Made from sugarcane or sugar beets, molasses is a primary ingredient in brown sugar and rum. It’s also frequently added to some desserts such as gingerbread. Known as a syrup, it has a stronger flavor than most other similar syrups. Can dogs have molasses? Is something this sweet safe for your dog? Read and find out below.
Cane molasses, made from sugarcane, is sometimes used in baking and cooking. It was very popular in the U.S. before the 20th century as a sweetener, when it was plentiful. It was even used for brewing beer by American colonists, including George Washington.
Molasses made from sugar beets only consists of the syrup leftover from the final sugar crystallization stage. Beet molasses is 50 percent sugar by dry weight and is mostly sucrose, though it contains significant amounts of glucose and fructose. Because of the non-sugar contents, beet molasses is mostly unpalatable to humans and is usually reserved for animal feed.
Cane molasses, which is what we will be discussing, is generally more nutritious than other kinds of syrup. It is made up of 22 percent water, 75 percent carbohydrates, no protein, and 0.1 percent fat. A 100-gram serving of molasses is rich in vitamins B5 and B6, and the minerals manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Cane molasses features sucrose (29 percent of total carbs), glucose (12 percent of total carbs), and fructose (13 percent of total carbs).
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,213 kJ (290 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||0 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||16%
Along with rum, brown sugar, and gingerbread, molasses is used to make dark rye bread, some cookies and pies, barbecue sauces, some beers such as stouts and porters, to stabilize mixtures such as vinaigrettes, as a humectant to make jerky, and as a source for yeast production.
Blackstrap molasses is the most nutritious kind of molasses. It has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product but retains the beneficial nutrients. It is lower on the glycemic index than conventional sweeteners and it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as much.
One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains 60 calories.
Blackstrap molasses contains both calcium and magnesium, making it good for bones. It’s also a good source of iron which can help fight off anemia. About 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains 20 percent of the daily value for iron.
Blackstrap molasses is also loaded with potassium. It’s good for muscle cramps and for your heart. Eating foods high in potassium may help avoid strokes due to hypertension.
This form of molasses is thick and slightly bitter so it’s not something that most people (or dogs) want to eat/drink alone. However, it can be used as a supplement in small amounts to foods where the taste can be disguised.
Note that some sugarcane is prepared while it is still immature. In these cases, sulfur dioxide is sometimes added as a preservative. If you (or your dog) are sensitive to certain preservatives, this could be an issue for you.
Pure sorghum is also used to create a dark syrup that is similar to dark molasses but it isn’t blackstrap molasses.
Is Molasses Safe for Dogs?
Yes, molasses is safe for dogs, in small amounts. Cane molasses (light and dark) is a syrup sometimes used to make cookies and other desserts. Eating a gingerbread cookie that contains a small amount of molasses is not harmful to dogs. Plus, the nutrients in molasses are a benefit.
Do keep in mind that there are different kinds of molasses. Products labeled “molasses” in the supermarket and intended for baking are fairly sweet. While this kind of molasses does contain nutrients and it’s safe, it also has more sugar than blackstrap molasses. It’s best if you do not give this kind of molasses to your dog as a supplement.
It’s perfectly safe to give your dog a small amount of blackstrap molasses as a supplement. People have been giving dogs, horses, and other animals blackstrap molasses for extra nutrients for a long time. George Washington probably gave it to his dogs and horses, with or without the beer. You may need to disguise the taste in your dog’s food or in something else that your dog likes to eat.
You can find many dog treats and cookies sold online that contain molasses or blackstrap molasses. Some places sell it as a supplement for dogs. It’s really an old-time nutritional supplement.
If you live on a farm or visit one and your dog eats animal feed that contains beet molasses, it shouldn’t cause a problem. Beet molasses is typically bitter and unappealing to humans and pets but dogs being curious, it’s possible your dog might try some in the animal feed. He probably won’t eat very much because of the bad taste.
As always, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian if you have questions or if you are concerned about giving your dog any food or supplement.
What If Your Dog Eats Molasses?
Eating too much of anything can be harmful to your dog and that’s true of molasses as well. Cane molasses, used for baking, is a sweetener. It’s also appealing to dogs. If your dog should help himself to a bottle of cane molasses, it’s a good idea to contact your veterinarian right away. You can expect possible vomiting and diarrhea. Even though cane molasses has less sugar than granulated sugar, it’s still a source of sucrose, glucose, and fructose. It could send your dog’s blood sugar levels dangerously high. Contact your veterinarian.
The same is true if your dog manages to eat an entire box of gingerbread cookies or another food that contains a lot of molasses. Contact your vet and at least explain the situation. Ask for advice.
Dogs are less likely to overindulge in blackstrap molasses and some other other forms of molasses that are bitter. However, if your dog does get into these kinds of molasses and overeats, call your vet and tell the office what your dog has done. They may want you to bring your dog in to monitor him.
How Much Molasses Can You Give Your Dog?
If you are giving your dog blackstrap molasses as a nutritional supplement, the recommended dose is usually about 1 tablespoon per day.
If you have dog cookies or treats that contain molasses or blackstrap molasses, give them to your dog in moderation. While the molasses may contain health benefits, cookies and treats often contain other ingredients that may not be as healthy. One or two cookies per day is usually plenty for most dogs.
If your dog is diabetic, overweight or obese, or has other health issues, talk to your veterinarian before giving him any special treats or cookies, even if they contain healthy supplements.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Molasses?
As a supplement, blacksstrap molasses is usually given once per day (1 tablespoon). If you are giving your dog cookies or treats that contain molasses or blackstrap molasses, one or two cookies per day is usually plenty.
Molasses and blackstrap molasses are more nutritious than most kinds of sweeteners. Blackstrap molasses has been used as a healthy supplement for dogs and horses for a long time. As with any food or supplement, too much can be harmful so be sure to keep molasses where your dog can’t reach it. Just a small amount of blackstrap molasses per day contains lots of nutrients which are beneficial for dogs. If you have questions, always ask your veterinarian.