Can Dogs Have Oreos?

Can Dogs Have Oreos?

Many of us might remember the iconic Oreo commercial where the little boy shows his dog how to eat an Oreo and says, “Mom said dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but you can have my milk.” It is well-known that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but Oreo’s actually contain very little chocolate, so can dogs eat Oreos?

Dogs should not eat Oreos. Oreos contain cocoa, added sugars, fats, and other ingredients that are unhealthy for dogs. The level of cocoa they contain can be dangerous in large quantities, mainly to smaller breeds and puppies, because it has theobromine and caffeine, both of which are poisonous to dogs.

It’s unlikely that a few Oreo cookies would poison your dog, but it might be a concern if they got ahold of a bag or box of Oreos. Read on to learn what happens if your dog eats Oreos and what to do if you’re concerned they’ve eaten too many.

Oreo Ingredients and Their Effects on Dogs

Although Oreos and chocolate are a delicious human snack, it’s best not to give your dog either. Oreos contain cocoa, canola oil or palm oil, enriched flour, and high volumes of sugar. There are also high amounts of corn syrup and soy lectin found in all Oreo varieties, not just the original sandwich cookie.

Let’s look closer at these ingredients and see what can happen if your dog eats Oreos.

Flour, Egg, Cake, Ingredients, Bake, Sugar, Butter
Image by marcelkessler via Pixabay

Chocolate & Cocoa

Oreos have very small amounts of chocolate in them, made of cocoa, adding to the delicious flavor but increasing the risk of poisoning your dog. The main chemicals in cocoa are theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to dogs.  

Both theobromine and caffeine may cause blood vessel dilation, heart stimulation, diarrhea, and affect muscle function and tone. Dogs cannot metabolize either chemical, making them more susceptible to any side effects as they stay in their system longer (source).

However, with the comparatively low levels of theobromine and caffeine in Oreos, the threat to a larger dog is very low, unless they happen to be particularly susceptible to theobromine poisoning. A dog weighing 90 pounds might eat an entire chocolate cake and not suffer from it (source).

The actual levels of theobromine and caffeine in Oreos are hard to determine, with information from blogs like caffeineinformer.com stating one thing and petcare.com.au another. Still, we’ve included the estimates to serve as a rough guideline.

While not listing Oreos, the Pet Poison Helpline does list the amounts of theobromine and caffeine in various forms of chocolate on their website, and we have listed a few of these here in milligrams per ounce (mg/oz) (source).

Food SourceTheobromine (mg/oz)Caffeine (mg/oz)
Oreo Cookies 2.40.85
Milk Chocolate44–606
Semisweet (Dark) Chocolate135–23820
Dry Cocoa Powder 400–73770

Theobromine

Toxic doses of theobromine can cause a range of medical issues and complications, from minor to severe, and may even lead to death.

Below is a chart where I have listed the theobromine levels which your dog would have to ingest to show symptoms of toxicity in milligrams per pound of body weight (mg/lb) and milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg).

Dose per poundDose per kilogramSymptoms
9mg/lb20mg/kgAgitation, hyperactivity, and gastrointestinal signs such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea
18mg/lb40mg/kgCardiac issues such as racing heart rate, high blood pressure, or even heart arrhythmias
27mg/lb60mg/kgNeurological issues such as including tremors, twitching, and even seizures
45–227mg/lb100–500mg/kgPossible fatality

The average Oreo weighs around 0.40 ounces, estimated to have about 2.4 milligrams per ounce of theobromine. That’s about 0.96 milligrams of theobromine per cookie or 0.000035274 ounces.

It would take about nine cookies per pound of dog before you might expect symptoms and around 45 cookies per pound before it became lethal unless your dog is a special case.

Caffeine

Puppy, Dog, Pet, Animal, Cute, White, Adorable, Canine
Image by 3194556 via Pixabay

Humans consume copious amounts of caffeine with little to no problem, but dogs have far less mass than humans. At high enough levels, caffeine can be toxic to dogs.

The exact amount of caffeine in an Oreo is hard to determine as blogs like caffeineinformer.com claim that Oreos have around 1.3 milligrams of caffeine per cookie, while petcare.com.au claims that it’s only .85 milligrams per ounce, making it only .34 ounces per cookie.

Symptoms may occur with the consumption of as little as nine milligrams of caffeine per pound of dog, but that would take about 26 cookies with the conservative estimate and about 7 with the high estimate. Unless you have a really small dog, it would take a lot of Oreos to cause serious poisoning.

Severe illness can occur at 20 milligrams per pound of body weight (mg/lb). Seizures and death are possible after a pet consumes 75–100 mg/lb.

Sugar & High Fructose Corn Syrup 

Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not toxic to dogs, but too much is not good for them either. Dogs have a sweet tooth akin to humans, but overeating sugar and high fructose corn syrup can lead to canine obesity, or, worse, they may develop diabetes.

For more on dogs and sugary treats, read our articles “Can Dogs Drink Coke?” and “Can Dogs Have Donuts?

Enriched Flour

Flour is made from wheat, which is one of the most common allergens affecting dogs, so bear that in mind when you give your pup any baked goods.

When flour is “enriched,” that means manufacturers have added vitamins to the flour to enhance the food’s health benefits. That being said, these enriched foods are targeted for human consumption, not for dogs.

The vitamins such as Iron, B1, and B2 found in enriched flour are often based on the daily human allowance. That said, the levels safe for human consumption are much more than a dog can consume and often lead to an overdose causing gastrointestinal issues.

Soy Lectin

Soy lectin is a food-grade emulsifier and flavor stabilizer made from soybeans, a GMO food that is high in pesticides (source). 

Soybeans contain natural toxins and haemagglutinin, which may cause gastric distress, blood clotting, reduced protein digestion, and amino acid uptake deficiencies. They may also interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones necessary for normal thyroid function in dogs (source).

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats a Bag of Oreos?

Let’s face it, dogs will be dogs, and sweet stuff is very tempting, so what should you do if they have ingested a large bag of Oreos?

Closely monitor your dog for any symptoms of toxic theobromine and caffeine poisonings such as vomiting, diarrhea, nervousness, irregular heart rhythm, high blood pressure, and allergic reaction. Should the exhibit any of these, you must immediately see a vet and call the Pet Poison Helpline.

The Pet Poison Helpline is an animal poison control service based out of Minneapolis, available 24/7 to pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet.

The Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling (800) 213-6680. Additional information can be found online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.

Final Thoughts

Yes, Oreos are a tasty snack for humans and for dogs, but it’s best that you keep them away from your dog. While the risks are minimal, it’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to sweets that contain chocolate. 

Instead, there are Oreo-like cookies made for dogs that you can find in most grocery stores and online retailers such as Chewy.com.

If you think your dog has consumed too many Oreos, or any amount of toxic food, consult your vet or call The Pet Poison Helpline. It is better to be told they will be okay than to find out too late they will not.