In this article you will find:
Can dogs eat tapioca? Why not? And, what is tapioca in the first place and why should we bother giving it to our canine companion?
When tapioca comes into mind, we automatically think of refreshing sweet treats like bubble tea, pearl milk teas, and tapioca pudding.
And our cravings for these guilty pleasures are even intensified during summer as we find refuge in something cold, sweet, and hydrating.
Unsurprisingly, we are not the only one who finds comfort from these desserts, our pet dogs, too. The question is, can dogs eat tapioca? Or are they better of eating other refreshing snacks?
What is Tapioca?
Tapioca is a type of starch extracted from the storage root of the cassava plant.
And it acts much like flour, albeit without the presence of gluten, which makes it a healthier and safer alternative for humans and dogs alike with food allergies or sensitivities. In short, tapioca is a gluten free flour substitute.
Tapioca is also a very neutral food component – both in its flavor and nutritional profile. In particular, on its own, tapioca has no flavor at all other than being a little bit starchy.
However, while some may think of that as a downside, this is actually what makes it a staple ingredient not just in human foods, but also in dog foods.
With its flavorless profile, it acts more like a blank canvass that can be easily swayed to other stronger flavors – may it be sweet, spicy, savory, and so on.
Nutritionally, it is rich in carbohydrates and has a small amount of some important minerals, such as calcium, manganese, and iron. However, it isn’t toxic to dogs, and it’s definitely not unhealthy on its own.
It has hardly any protein, and is low in fiber, low in fat, but, what’s good about it is the fact that it is grain-free and gluten-free.
Hence, it is still a viable replacement in making many foods that dogs and humans cannot digest safely and properly compared with other sugar sources (since tapioca is mainly starch, which is the stored form of sugars in plants).
Can Your Dog Have Tapioca?
Yes, dogs can eat tapioca. In fact, it is often used as a filler in a lot of dog food products.
And though it is made from the cassava root, which is usually grown underground and may be potentially exposed to chemicals, it is still safe for dogs to eat since the cassava root has already been fully processed to produce tapioca.
However, when feeding tapioca to your dog, you should keep it in moderation since it is composed mainly of carbohydrates and sugar.
Is Tapioca Safe for Dogs?
On its own, tapioca is generally a grain-free starch with small amounts of nutrients that your dog can easily get from his kibbles. Nonetheless, tapioca is not toxic to dogs, so you can safely feed it to your pup in moderation.
As discussed earlier, though it’s free from toxins that are harmful to your dog’s health, it is also rich in sugar and carbohydrates, which can only bring a myriad of health issues to your pup – from dental problems, obesity, diabetes, and so on.
So, yes, tapioca can be great for dogs that are allergic to grain based starches, and it can also be a healthy gluten-free flour substitute for your dog’s diet. But, that’s it.
Can Dogs Eat Tapioca Pudding?
Without a doubt, tapioca pudding is one delicious classic dessert that we love so dearly. It is made using tapioca pearls, milk, coconut milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and some salt.
Aside from these accessible ingredients, it only takes fifteen minutes to make a generous serving of pudding tapioca.
As dog owners, we must know what ingredients are safe and bad for our pups’ health. And by simply looking at the list of ingredients, it is not difficult to arrive at a conclusion that tapioca pudding can be problematic to a lot of dogs.
This is especially true for those with sensitivities to milk and eggs. Also, the vanilla extract contains alcohol, which is toxic to dogs, and some dogs are allergic to alcohol, so, it’s definitely not safe to any recipe or dish that you add to your dog’s menu.
While milk is safe for us humans, it is generally not safe for your canine companion. After weaning, dogs develop an intolerance to milk because of the deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which is primarily due to the lack or absence of milk in their diet.
However, the degree of intolerance may vary. Some dogs may experience mild gastrointestinal distress, some may have severe clinical signs, and some may not experience any symptoms at all.
Common symptoms that you should watch out for include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, bloated tummy, and flatulence (release of gas).
Moreover, another safety hazard in feeding tapioca pudding is the presence of tapioca pearls. We, humans enjoy chewing and swallowing these soft pearls, but our dogs can’t.
Once you give your pets tapioca pearls, they would simply swallow these tiny balls of jelly-like sugar directly. And in the worst case, they could choke on these pearls.
Also, when your dog consumes tapioca pearls regularly, and each time, he simply swallows them, you may be putting him at risk for intestinal obstruction.
These unbroken and undigested pearls can cause internal blockage, which may warrant an emergency surgery if he can’t successfully pass them out in his stool.
And while there is a small chance that the pearls may cause intestinal obstruction, the fact remains that there’s a chance that they can. Smaller dogs are also more at risk both for choking and internal blockage due to tapioca pearls.
Should You Give Your Dog Tapioca?
Is your dog allergic to grains or gluten? If so, then, there’s a logical reason for you to give your dog tapioca. Otherwise, you can still give it to your pup as a treat.
As discussed earlier, on its own, tapioca is purely sugar and carbohydrates. So, other than an extra dose of energy, and extra pounds, your dog won’t get not that much benefits from eating tapioca.
If you are giving him high-quality dog food, then, he is better off without tapioca in his diet. Again, with the exception, of course, if your dog is allergic to gluten and grains since tapioca can be a healthy substitute for grain-based starches.
Moreover, considering the potential dangers from other ingredients where tapioca is usually mixed with, it’s best to not give your dog tapioca pudding and other recipes that contain questionable ingredients.
Additionally, there’s also the risk that your dog may be allergic to tapioca or to the other additives that were added to it just like food coloring.
So, if you suspect that your dog is experiencing an allergic reaction to tapioca, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
And if it’s your first time to add this to your dog’s diet, it’s also best to tell your vet about it and get a go signal before giving it to your pup.
In a nutshell, while tapioca is safe for dogs, we can’t say the same with what we make out of it.
Apparently, you should not give your dog milk teak with tapioca pearls, tapioca pudding, and other recipes and desserts that may contain artificial sweeteners, sugar, milk, salt, pepper, and so on.
However, there are dog foods that include tapioca in their ingredients. These foods are specially formulated for dogs with sensitivities to grains, gluten, or those with food allergies, as well as digestive and skin issues.
You may want to switch your pup to any of these dog foods if he is experiencing any of the mentioned health issues. But of course, before doing so, you should talk to your vet first and always observe the proper way of transitioning to a new diet.