Is it okay to give a dog syrup?

Quick Answer

Giving a dog a small amount of maple syrup or pancake syrup occasionally as a treat is generally safe. However, feeding syrup in large amounts or frequently can be unhealthy due to the high sugar content. Syrup should never make up a significant portion of a dog’s diet.

Is Maple Syrup Safe for Dogs?

Pure maple syrup contains nutrients like manganese, riboflavin, zinc and calcium, so it can be okay fed in moderation. The sugar in maple syrup is also natural, not refined like white sugar. However, it still has a high glycemic index, meaning it causes spikes in blood sugar. Consuming too much can lead to obesity, diabetes, dental issues and gastrointestinal problems in dogs.

The ASPCA recommends limiting maple syrup to no more than 1 tablespoon for a large dog (over 50 lbs) and 1 teaspoon for a small dog as an occasional treat. It’s best to dilute the syrup by pouring it over dog-safe foods like plain yogurt or oatmeal. Avoid giving syrup on a regular basis.

Benefits of Maple Syrup for Dogs

  • Contains essential vitamins and minerals
  • Provides antioxidants
  • Natural source of sugar

Risks of Maple Syrup for Dogs

  • High in natural sugar
  • Can cause weight gain if overfed
  • Potential for diabetes and GI issues
  • Sticky texture promotes tooth decay

Is Pancake Syrup Safe for Dogs?

Most pancake syrups contain high fructose corn syrup as the main sweetener instead of pure maple syrup. High fructose corn syrup is made from genetically modified corn and processed with enzymes to increase the fructose content. It is high in calories and low in nutrients.

While small amounts of pancake syrup are not toxic to dogs, it provides empty calories and excess sugar. It’s best to avoid giving pancake syrup regularly. If used as an occasional treat, limit to no more than 1 teaspoon for a small dog and 1 tablespoon for a large dog.

Risks of Pancake Syrup

  • High in added sugar and calories
  • Can lead to obesity and diabetes
  • Nutritionally void
  • Contains artificial flavors and preservatives

Are Sugar-Free Syrups Safe for Dogs?

Sugar-free pancake syrups replace sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. While these are considered safe for human consumption by the FDA, dogs process artificial sweeteners differently than people.

Artificial sweeteners can have negative effects in dogs such as:

  • Gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and diarrhea
  • Neurologic symptoms like seizures and tremors
  • Potential organ damage to the liver and kidneys with long-term use

It’s best to avoid sugar-free syrups and use natural low-sugar syrups sparingly if you want to share syrup with your dog.

Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners for Dogs

  • Xylitol – extremely toxic, can cause liver failure
  • Aspartame – may trigger seizures
  • Sucralose – linked to leukemia in rodent studies
  • Acesulfame potassium – may affect thyroid function

Healthier Syrup Alternatives for Dogs

If you want to share a sweet treat with your dog, there are healthier syrup options than regular pancake syrup. Look for products that are low in sugar and free of artificial sweeteners and flavors.

Fruit Syrups

Fruit syrups made from blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, pomegranate or other fruits provide more nutrients than plain pancake syrup. Choose all-natural products without added sugars. Dilute before serving to reduce calories and sugar content.

Low-Sugar Maple Syrup

Some maple syrup brands offer low-sugar versions with about half the sugar content per serving compared to traditional maple syrup. This lets you provide the nutrients of maple without too much sugar.

Yogurt Syrups

Plain, unsweetened yogurt blended with a small amount of fruit juice or pureed fruit makes a creamy, protein-rich syrup for dogs. Avoid flavored yogurts with added sugar.

You can also turn plain yogurt into syrup by straining it overnight in cheesecloth to remove the whey. This Greek yogurt style syrup will be thick and creamy.

Carob Syrup

Carob syrup is made from the naturally sweet pulp of carob pods. It provides fiber and nutrients without refined sugar. Look for 100% carob syrup with no corn syrup or artificial ingredients.

Can Puppies Eat Syrup?

Syrup should be avoided for puppies under 1 year old. Puppies have developing digestive systems and syrup can cause upset. The high sugar content can also fuel rapid growth, which risks bone and joint developmental issues.

If you want to treat your puppy, there are better options like:

  • Pieces of cooked chicken or plain meat
  • Low-sodium broth ice cubes
  • Small amounts of plain yogurt
  • Chopped fruits like banana or apple
  • Peanut butter in a Kong toy

Risks of Syrup for Puppies

  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Rapid growth and joint issues
  • Nutritional imbalance
  • Obesity
  • Tooth decay

Can Syrup Harm a Dog?

While small infrequent amounts of syrup are unlikely to harm an adult dog, there are some risks to be aware of.


At around 50 calories per tablespoon, syrup is calorie-dense. Too much can quickly lead to weight gain in dogs. Obesity stresses joints, the heart and other organs. It also increases diabetes risk.

Dental Disease

The sticky sugar in syrup can get stuck on teeth, promoting bacteria growth and cavities. Dental cleanings may be needed to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.


Frequent syrup feeding raises blood sugar and insulin. Over time, this can degrade insulin response, resulting in type 2 diabetes. Signs include increased thirst, frequent urination and weight loss.

Gastrointestinal Upset

Too much sugar and syrup flavorings may cause vomiting, diarrhea or flatulence in dogs. Artificial sweeteners can also irritate the GI tract.


Dogs may be allergic to ingredients in pancake syrup like corn, soy or preservatives. Reactions include itching, digestive upset and skin irritation.

What Amount of Syrup Is Dangerous for Dogs?

There’s no definitive toxic threshold for syrup in dogs. However, consumption of very large amounts could potentially cause life-threatening issues:

  • Maple syrup: Consumption of more than 2 cups could risk GI obstruction or inflammation from the high sugar content.
  • Pancake syrup: Large amounts could potentially cause liver damage or neurologic symptoms from ingredients like xylitol, mold inhibitors and artificial flavors.

To be safe, keep syrup feeding to no more than 1 teaspoon for a small dog or 1 tablespoon for a large dog a few times per month. Seek emergency vet care if your dog consumes more than 1/4 cup of syrup.

Signs of Syrup Poisoning in Dogs

Look for the following symptoms if you suspect your dog ate too much syrup:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Take your dog to the vet immediately if any of these signs occur after syrup ingestion. Prompt treatment can prevent serious complications.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Syrup

  1. Determine approximately how much syrup was ingested.
  2. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for advice.
  3. Follow your vet’s directions for inducing vomiting or treatment.
  4. Monitor your dog closely for the next 24 hours for signs of GI upset, hyperactivity, lethargy, or any other concerning symptoms.
  5. Call the vet if symptoms worsen or if your dog seems otherwise unwell after eating syrup.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe Around Syrup

  • Store syrup bottles out of reach of your pet.
  • Keep the trash can secure so your dog can’t get into discarded syrup.
  • Supervise your dog closely if syrup is being used.
  • Never purposely let your dog lick syrup containers.
  • Clean up spilled syrup right away so it can’t be ingested.
  • Choose dog treats instead of sharing syrup for rewards or training.


Can syrup cause liver failure in dogs?

Extremely large amounts of some pancake syrups could potentially cause liver damage due to ingredients like xylitol, preservatives and artificial flavors. Maple syrup is less likely to cause liver issues unless consumed in huge amounts.

Why do dogs love syrup?

Dogs are attracted to the sweet, sugary taste of syrup. They also often love licking sticky foods off their muzzles and lips. However, just because your dog wants syrup doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Reserve syrup for rare small treats.

Is syrup worse for dogs than chocolate?

Chocolate is generally more toxic to dogs than syrup, especially dark chocolate. Even small amounts of chocolate can make some dogs very sick. Syrup must be eaten in larger quantities to potentially cause harm.

Can diabetic dogs have syrup?

No, dogs with diabetes should never be fed syrup. The large sugar spike could be dangerous for diabetic dogs. Stick to low-sugar treats approved by your veterinarian.

Does syrup need veterinary treatment?

Most minor cases of syrup ingestion can be managed at home with monitoring, but seek vet advice. Seek emergency treatment if your dog has severe vomiting, lethargy, seizures or other concerning symptoms after eating syrup.

The Bottom Line

While an occasional small treat of maple syrup or diluted pancake syrup generally won’t harm an adult dog, it provides empty calories and sugar with few health benefits. It’s better to show your pup some love with playtime, training treats or wholesome foods.

If your dog manages to gulp down more than a small spoonful of syrup, call your vet right away for advice to avoid serious complications.

With some common sense syrup safety precautions, you can keep your dog healthy while still enjoying your Sunday pancakes!

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