Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Molasses The "Natural" Ingredient That Shouldn't Be In Your Pet's Treats

Posted 4/3/24

Molasses, commonly found in pet treats, may seem like a wholesome ingredient, evoking images of traditional, healthy indulgences, but in reality, can pose problems for your pet. Molasses is a byproduct of sugar production from sugarcane or sugar beets, primarily utilized for its sweetening properties. While molasses derived from sugarcane contains trace amounts of beneficial nutrients like vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and potassium, the most common type of molasses used in pet products are lower quality and originates from sugar beets and is essentially sugar (sucrose, glucose, and fructose).

Products incorporating molasses, whether from sugarcane or sugar beets, often bear labels like "all-natural," "naturally delicious," or "all-natural flavoring," conveying an impression of healthfulness. However, molasses possesses a high glycemic index, potentially elevating your pet's blood sugar levels.

How High Blood Sugar Can Affect Your Pet's Health

Feeding foods that have a high glycemic increase increase your pet's blood sugar levels. We all want to indulge our pets so why is this a problem? If you are giving your pet the same treat every day or foods that are high in sugar, over time, this will increase in your pet's blood sugar on a consistent basis. Here are health issues that might occur from feeding dogs and cats foods high in sugar:
Obesity- high blood sugar levels contribute to obesity similarly to humans. Consistently elevated blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance. This resistance can cause the pancreas to produce more insulin, which may stimulate appetite and promote fat storage, ultimately leading to weight gain. Managing blood sugar levels through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and appropriate medical treatment is essential in preventing obesity and its associated health issues in dogs and cats.

Diabetes - is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) due to insufficient production or utilization of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Symptoms of diabetes in pets include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss despite increased appetite, lethargy, and recurrent infections. Untreated diabetes in dogs and cats can lead to severe complications like diabetic ketoacidosis, cataracts, nerve damage and kidney disease. Managing diabetes in pets requires lifetime care.
Dental and gum problems- high blood sugar in cats and dogs can create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow in the mouth, leading to the formation of plaque on the teeth. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar, causing gum inflammation and tooth decay. It can also weaken the immune system, making pets more vulnerable to infections in the mouth. In addition to managing your pet's blood sugars, practice good oral hygiene and get regular check-ups.

Yeast overgrowth- elevated blood sugar in dogs and cats can contribute to yeast overgrowth primarily due to the favorable environment it creates for yeast (fungus) to thrive. Elevated blood sugar levels provide excess glucose, which yeast organisms feed on, promoting their growth. Additionally, high blood sugar can weaken the immune system leading to skin infections, ear infections, and digestive problems in dogs and cats.

Cancer- high blood sugar in dogs and cats can potentially contribute to cancer in a few ways. It can fuel the growth of cancer cells by providing them with the extra glucose they need to multiply. It can cause inflammation throughout the body, creating an environment that supports tumor growth and it can weaken the immune system, making it less effective in fighting cancer cells.

Molasses and Sugar In Pet Treats

Many experts assert that added sugar has no nutritional merit in a dog's or cat's diet, but despite the apparent risks, molasses remains prevalent in numerous cat and dog treats. It is most commonly found in moist, chewy varieties of treats, solely for the sake of enhancing flavor and palatability. Offering your pet a "naturally" flavored treat may seem appealing, but there are much healthier treats that can contribute to your dog or cat's well being. Consider freeze-dried raw treats from reputable brands like Stella and Chewy's, Halo, Primal, or Instinct. There are organ meats like freeze-dried liver that pets love. These healthy treats prioritize your pet's health and well-being without compromising on taste or enjoyment.

Author: Susan Davis
Revised and updated:  4/3/2024