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Can Dogs Eat Jello?

Can Dogs Eat Jello?

It can be challenging for pet owners to say no to pleading puppy dog eyes when eating at the dinner table. Dog owners know there are many human foods that you can feed your dog. Things like chicken, fish, rice, apples, cucumbers, and even watermelon are great homemade treats. But there are others you shouldn’t feed your furry friend. Can dogs have jello? This article will break down what flavored jello is, discuss if it is safe or nutritious for your dog, and possible alternatives to appease our canine friends

What Is Jello?

Jello is a sweet, fruit-flavored jelly dessert known for its signature jiggle (“it’s alive!”). For most of us, jello is one of those foods that oozes childhood nostalgia. Whether from your mother’s infamous Thanksgiving jello salad or your school cafeteria’s highly sought-after strawberry jello and orange jello cups, these flavor memories stick with us. You might even remember jello shots from college, a mixture of jello and alcohol. The jello market is still very much “alive” today.  
The official trademarked name is Jell-O, though there are tons of generic jellos out there. They boast a plethora of flavors and bright colors. Jell-O also sells jello pudding and pie-filling products that do not contain gelatin powder. Jello, the gelatinous dessert, is sold either in ready to eat form snack cups or in powder form. The powder packets are simple to prepare by dissolving them in boiling water and allowing the mixture to chill until it sets. People also like to mix in fruit, veggies, or whipped cream, or even mold the mixture into intricate shapes with a jello mold
Gelatin Dessert
In adult years, jello is a staple found on hospital trays. Jelly desserts are helpful for those in need of hydration, energy, and easily digestible foods after surgery. Sugar-free varieties are also added to low-calorie or low-carb diet plans for people looking to lose weight. But despite its appearance in hospitals and diet plans, store-bought jello is not ideal for health-conscious individuals. To take a closer look, let’s investigate the ingredients in a jello packet. 

What Is in Jello?

Jello and sugar free jello typically contains a combination of gelatin, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and sugar or artificial sweeteners, depending on the product you get. Lately, some producers have been offering new products containing more natural colors, flavors, sweeteners, and gelatin alternatives for the vegan and vegetarians out there. But here, we will focus on the most common ingredients found in classic and sugar-free jello products:

Gelatin:

The thickening agent for most jello desserts on the market is gelatin, giving the dessert its signature jiggle. Gelatin comes from animal collagen, most often from the hides and bones of cows or pigs. Unfortunately, this means it is off the table for vegans and vegetarians. 

Sugar:

The contents of a classic jello packet or snack cup is mostly sugar. One serving of a packet of classic jello is approximately 21 grams of the dry mix but includes a whopping 19 grams of sugars! This is equal to about 4.5 teaspoons. Sugar has been known to negatively raise blood sugar, accelerate skin aging, cause high blood pressure, and contribute to a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease

Sweeteners:

Sugar-free jello commonly contains aspartame, an artificial sweetener 200 times sweeter than sugar. The irony is that even though sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are meant to help you lose weight, they increase your appetite, leading to weight gain! Although it may be low in calories, Aspartame has been found to bring about adverse health consequences like increased inflammation of the body, increased risk of diabetes and obesity, and possibly cancer

Artificial flavors:

Back in its heyday, jello contained real fruit juice, but these days the flavor ingredients are far from natural. “Artificial Flavor” on the ingredients list refers to a proprietary chemical formula owned by flavor companies. These flavor companies have 1,300 FDA-approved ingredients to work with, but the formulas are kept secret to us consumers. So, in other words, the flavors and their possible effects on us is one big question mark. 

Artificial colors:

Since real fruit juice is no longer used, jello manufacturers typically substitute bright food coloring to make it more appealing. Certain food dyes which you would find in strawberry jello (like red #40) contain benzidine, a synthetic chemical known to cause cancer. Additionally, artificial food dyes are said to cause behavioral changes like hyperactivity in children

Preservatives:

To help extend the expiration date of their products, jello manufacturers use preservatives. Common ones include disodium phosphate and sodium benzoate. Phosphates are known to cause kidney issues, and sodium benzoate can convert to benzene, a carcinogen 
Let’s now turn our attention to man’s best friend. As you can see, jello is made up of primarily unhealthy ingredients. It also lacks the essential nutrients we need, such as fiber, vitamins, or minerals. It is easy to see that this highly processed, sweet dessert is not great for us humans. But what about jello’s effect on dogs? 

Can Dogs Eat Jello?

The simple answer is no, your dog should not eat jello. And they definitely should not eat jello shots. If your dog ate jello, it will likely have little effect (always check with your veterinarian though). In the short term it can have negative effect's on your dog's digestive system. However, eating flavored jello over time can lead to long-term consequences for your dog. Here are the ingredients in jello that are not healthy for dogs to eat: 

Can Dogs Eat Sugar?

Just as it is bad for us humans, sugar is terrible for your doggo. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and cavities. Dogs can gain weight from sugar just as humans do, and it can also lead to heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. Overweight dogs are becoming more and more common (56% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese). Often, this is because the owner does not even notice a problem until it is too late. 

Can Dogs Eat Artificial Sweeteners?

Aspartame and sucralose in jello may cause some gastrointestinal issues in your dog. It is important to be aware of other artificial sweeteners popping up in many sugar-free products on the market. One hazardous one is xylitol, which is very toxic to dogs and found in various products like gum, toothpaste, peanut butter, baked goods, candy, puddings, and sauces. When ingested by dogs, it can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure, and even death

Can Dogs Eat Artificial Flavoring, Artificial Colors, and Artificial Preservatives?

As previously mentioned, artificial flavors are chemicals produced in a lab to enhance the desirability of a product. But whether or not these are healthy for us is a big question mark since we do not know what is in them. Additionally, artificial colors and preservatives bring no health value to us or our dog's diet

Tips and Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

Always be aware of what you are feeding your dog. Follow these tips to help ensure your dog doesn’t get into anything that could be potentially toxic or life threatening for them
  • Do not leave food on the counter or table that your dog can easily snag when you turn your back. 
  • Make sure your dog cannot easily roam through the house when you aren’t there. Use a kennel or fenced-in yard to ensure their safety. 
  • Learn dog training to teach your dog “no,” “leave it,” or “drop it,” just in case they get into some harmful food. 
  • Do not allow your dog to eat from your plate, as you don’t know every ingredient that may be potentially harmful. 
  • Check the label on everything you put in front of them. Here is a complete list of foods that are dangerous for dogs
One very toxic food on this list is xylitol, which can be deadly, as we have previously mentioned. Xylitol stimulates a fast-acting insulin response that can occur almost immediately after ingestion. Be aware of signs of poisoning of this ingredient just in case your dog sneaks a bite of something when you aren’t looking. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include:
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Systemic depression
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors 
  • Seizures
  • Coma
The best way to make sure your pet will be by your side for years t is by giving them consciously-prepared, well-balanced meals. Instead of feeding your dog jello, consider making their gelatin treats yourself. You can make homemade jello and make sure no sugar, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives are getting into your dog’s system. But perhaps we should first explore gelatin and its benefits for dogs and humankind. 
Unflavored Gelatin Safe for Dogs

What Is Gelatin? 

Powdered gelatin is the one beneficial ingredient in jello. This pure protein is a naturally occurring substance from collagen found in humans’ and animals’ skin, bones, ligaments, and tendons. The gelatin product you can buy is made from either boiled cow and pig hides and bones that have been dried, then treated and filtered (we use beef for our gelatin powder product). The collagen is extracted from this mixture, dried, ground down, and then sifted into the finished plain gelatin product that can be used in a variety of desserts like puddings, ice creams, and gummies

Why Is Gelatin Good for Humans?

Both gelatin and collagen are full of protein, which is the building block for all the cells in our body. Glycine and proline, the most abundant essential amino acids that make up these proteins, have the unique ability to help reduce joint and bone pains and reduce the signs of aging in our skin. It can also help our organs function properly, help prevent and repair tissue damage in athletes, aid in digestion, and improve sleep quality

Why Is Gelatin Good for Dogs?

Although feeding jello to your dog is not a good idea, incorporating only unflavored gelatin in their diet is known to be beneficial to your dog's health. Here are some health benefits your dog may have from eating gelatin: 

Improves joint health:

Gelatin can help reduce inflammation in joints, which can in turn help with joint disorders like arthritis, degenerative joint disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, which tends to plague older dogs

Aids in digestion:

Gelatin is known to attract digestive juices, which allows your dog to digest grains and carbs easier. As with humans, this protein can protect the stomach lining and help with diarrhea and other bowel problems

Strengthening connective tissues:

As with humans, dogs’ hair, skin, bones, and cartilage all contain collagen. Therefore adding gelatin may help improve hair, skin, and nail texture and help strengthen bones

Brain protecting:

Dogs with epilepsy can greatly benefit from glycine, an amino acid found in gelatin. Glycine is known to protect against seizures and brain damage. 
Homemade Gelatin Dog Treats

Homemade Dog Treats with Gelatin

Opt-out of processed, store-bought jello desserts and don't feed jello to your dog. Instead, we recommend making homemade jello treats for your canine. They are all easy-to-make, and they’ve all been puppy-approved!
Prepare our “Gelatin Treat Base” below, then pick out a flavor listed below. Only use unflavored and unsweetened gelatin for your dogs to make it a healthy treat. For an adult dog, gelatin can make up half of their dietary protein intake. However, always start slowly when introducing a new ingredient to your dog. We recommend just two teaspoons a day for a 50 to 75 lb dog. If you’ve got a picky eater on your hands, drip the gelatin over their dry food and mix it in. 
Feel free to use different ingredients than those listed below, including fresh strawberries, your dog's wet food, dried dog food, and other healthy foods your dog loves.
Note: If your dog is on a protein-restricted diet, please consult a veterinarian before adding treats to their diet.

Gelatin Dog Treat Base:

1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup hot water
1 Tbsp plain Unflavored Gelatin
Directions:
1. Pour ¼ cup of cold water in a bowl, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp gelatin
2. Pour ¼ cup of hot water over the gelatin and whisk until dissolved
3. Combine gelatin mixture with desired add in. Pour into ice cube trays, moulds or a glass baking pan.
4. Cover and chill for 3 hours. Cut and/or un-mould into small individual treats. Will keep refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Gelatin Tasty Treat Flavors:

1. Pumpkin Spice Paws 

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp cinnamon

2. Meaty Gummy Paws 

1 cup beef broth or chicken stock

3. Banana Lemon Gummy Paws 

2 medium ripe bananas
1/4 cup lemon juice
Note: Please use dog-friendly juices in this recipe. (Ex: Dole-Pineapple-Banana juice) DO NOT use grape or cranberry juice. Check the juice label to make sure there is no grape or cranberry juice used as a sweetener.

4. Blueberry Coconut Gummy Treats

1/4 cup organic blueberries

5. Herb & Bone Broth Gummy Bears 

1/2 beet, handful parsley leaves, or a pinch of turmeric
1/2 cup low-sodium bone broth (check broth labels to avoid onion and garlic, or make a DIY broth)

Products used in this article:

Unflavored Pastured-Raised Beef Gelatin 1lb Front
22 reviews

Gelicious Unflavored Gelatin 1 LB

$19.49 USD