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Can Dogs Eat Tapioca?

by Lucy

Dogs love to eat. In fact, I’m sure your own lovable furball can eat just about anything you put in front of them (or stuff that’s lying around, for that matter). While your doggo gets to behave all carefree about their diet, you wind up with the responsibility of making sure they don’t ingest anything harmful. 

So, can dogs eat tapioca? Dogs can ingest tapioca starch in moderation without any problems. Tapioca is non-toxic for dogs and even used as an ingredient in some dog foods to bulk it up. However, it’s not advisable to feed your dog too much tapioca, as it has a high amount of carbohydrates.

Suppose you’re thinking about trying out tapioca for your gluten-unfriendly furbaby. In that case, you’ll be glad to know I’ve done all the legwork. From flour to pudding and more, I’m at your service with this cassava-comprehensive article.

What Is Tapioca?

Let’s kick off this canine dietary journey with the basic question, what is tapioca exactly? Tapioca is a starch derived from the cassava root (a rhizome/tuber native to South America). While cassava is quite popular in Asia and Africa and is consumed widely in these regions, it can be toxic if consumed raw. 

Thankfully, commercially manufactured tapioca flour (and cassava flour) are perfectly safe for human consumption. Tapioca production may differ slightly depending on the location. Nonetheless, the process generally involves squeezing the starchy liquid from the cassava root (think cold-pressing olives). 

The next step of the process involves drying out the liquid to get rid of the water, and Voila! The tapioca powder is ready. From then on, the powder is processed into different forms, like pearls, flakes, or sticks.

Also, a lot of folks mistake cassava flour for tapioca flour. You can avoid this by remembering tapioca is a by-product of the cassava root. In other words, the cassava root came first.

Is Starch Bad for Dogs?

Back in the day, before humans figured out how to domesticate dogs, canines had a different meal plan entirely. But canine diet (and behavior) evolved as their interaction with humans increased and evolved again as human diets changed as well.

Basically, hunter-gatherers figured out the best way to winning Fido’s heart was through a good meal. Long story short, dogs gained quite a few brilliant abilities by hanging out with a bunch of people. 

Before you scoff, allow me to inform you that this theory is supported by science. In 2016, a group of researchers discovered that dogs evolved to gain the ability to digest starch. Yup, both you and your present-day canine are powerful mutants compared to your ancestors. 

So, starch isn’t bad for dogs. In fact, their diet should include starch (because doggos need the energy). But, it’s essential to know where that starch is being derived from. 

Starch sources can be divided into three main categories:

  1. Grains
  2. Peas/lentils
  3. Refined starches derived from roots and root vegetables

Many dog food brands use grain because of its starch content and fiber, vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals. However, if your pooch is allergic to grains, this won’t be an option for you.

Peas and lentils are another viable source of starch and are filled to the brim with essential nutrients. Although peas are tolerated well by most doggos, dog food brands rarely use them because they’re more expensive. 

That leaves us with tapioca. Quite a few dog food brands are shifting to using tapioca because they’re safe for dogs with grain allergies to ingest. But, tapioca offers fewer nutrients compared to grains and lentils.

Is Tapioca Safe for Dogs?

If you’ve been paying attention so far, and I hope you have, you’ll know that your furbaby can eat tapioca without ill-effects. But that doesn’t mean you should feed your doggo tapioca any chance you get. You’ll understand why once you’ve gone through tapioca’s nutritional profile.

Nutritional Profile of Tapioca

Unlike grains or peas, tapioca consists entirely of starch and includes only trivial amounts of fiber, fats, or proteins. And, it’s even worse when it comes to daily nutrients. 

In a nutshell, one ounce of dry tapioca pearls includes 100 calories, and these are what are referred to as empty calories, without the benefits of protein or nutrients. 

Regardless of this, tapioca is so popular because (or canines) who are allergic to gluten can consume tapioca products (like bread, puddings, and other desserts) without having to stress about their digestive system. 

Additionally, tapioca is a source of resistant fiber, which means it functions like fiber in the digestive system and offers benefits like promoting gut health, lowering blood sugar, and boosting insulin and glucose metabolism.

How Often Should You Feed Your Dog Tapioca?

If your furball happens to be a high-energy dog like mine, then its daily diet should include at least 20% carbohydrates. And, since tapioca is a starch, which breaks down into carbs treating your doggo to tapioca twice a month is more than enough. 

Feeding your pet treats containing too many carbohydrates spells bad news for canines prone to obesity. Not to mention, too many carbohydrates can also lead to diabetes and other health issues. 

So, exercise a little caution for your easy-to-please pooch and limit its intake of tapioca (no matter the form) to stave off a bunch of health concerns. 

Can Dogs Eat Tapioca Flour?

Remember how I said some people confuse cassava flour with tapioca flour? Well, there’s quite a bit of confusion surrounding tapioca starch and tapioca flour. 

But, my fellow dog parents don’t need to suffer any anxiety because tapioca flour and starch are the same thing. And yes, dogs can eat tapioca flour and most things you make from it – like bread, flatbread, desserts, puddings, etc. 

However, you want to steer clear of cassava flour when it comes to Fido. Ingesting a large amount of cassava can be harmful to your pet (and you!) if the flour hasn’t been appropriately prepared. Cassava contains cyanogenic glycosides in its raw form, which can turn to cyanide inside your body upon consumption. 

Eating cassava flour too often or in large amounts can lead to cyanide poisoning. 

Can Dogs Eat Tapioca Pudding?

Unlike tapioca flour, whether your furbaby can eat tapioca pudding or not depends mainly on two factors: the pudding’s ingredients and your canine’s overall health. 

If you’re planning on feeding your pooch homemade tapioca pudding, and if your pet doesn’t suffer from problems like diabetes or obesity, then eating tapioca pudding occasionally shouldn’t be an issue.

Also, I’d recommend staying away from ready-made tapioca puddings because there’s no way of controlling or substituting harmful ingredients. 

I’ve decided to list down popular tapioca pudding ingredients individually to make sure you understand my enigmatic answer. Ready? Here goes!

1. Milk (Whole Milk or Coconut Milk)

Another thing that unites humans and canines in the natural bond of friendship and empathy is lactose intolerance. Yeah, apparently, when humans lost their ability to digest lactose, they decided to pass on the trait to canines. 

If your pet happens to be lactose intolerant, giving it any form of milk (whole or skim) is like tempting fate. You may have to spend the better part of your time cleaning up after your pet.

In contrast, your furry companion may have to face unpleasant side-effects like diarrhea, loose stools (yes, there’s a difference), or vomiting. And no one likes it when their dog keeps waking them up at night to poop.

Although, if you switch up regular milk with coconut milk or oat milk, then your pup may be able to enjoy the yummy delights of tapioca pudding after all. 

2. Eggs

Dogs can have eggs without any problems. Many dog experts recommend feeding canines eggs for protein because one large egg contains around 6grams of natural protein. Eggs are also a good source of vitamin A and linoleic acid, promoting skin and coat health in canines. 

However, note that you should never feed your pet raw eggs because they contain bacteria like salmonella. 

3. Vanilla Flavoring/Extract

If you’re planning on feeding tapioca pudding to your furry best friend, then be sure to lay off the vanilla extract. Most vanilla extracts include alcohol, which is absorbed by your pet’s stomach super quick and is toxic for dogs!

Instead, try flavoring your pudding with vanilla scraped right off the pod. That way, you’ll get the flavor you’re looking for without any trouble for your pooch. 

4. Sugar

A canine’s taste buds can pick up on sweet, salty, bitter, and sour flavors, and I’m sure that’s why doggies love eating desserts (or anything sweet). However, too much sugar (as yummy as it is) isn’t good for your pet and can lead to health concerns like diabetes. 

That’s why you should try and limit the use of sugar in your tapioca pudding. Also, avoid using artificial sweeteners at all costs because most sweeteners include xylitol, which is extremely dangerous for dogs. 

Is Boba Okay for Dogs?

The term “boba” can refer to bubble tea or the little tapioca pearls that accompany the tea-based drink. As far as tapioca pearls are concerned, they’re pretty safe for canines to eat (as a treat) because they’re made from tapioca starch. 

Although, if your canine has never had boba before, it’s best to start with small quantities. Also, tapioca tends to absorb a lot of water, even when it’s ingested.

That’s why some canines may develop constipation after eating boba. To make sure your pup’s tummy works like clock-work, give it plenty of water and a dollop of butter to lick.

Can Dogs Have Milk Tea With Boba?

If your doggo is lactose intolerant, then giving it milk tea with boba will lead to trouble. Although, if you’re a fan of lactose-free creamer, then you can share two or three spoons of milk tea with your pet. 

Another aspect you need to watch out for when feeding your canine milk tea is the amount of sugar that the product contains (which is a lot!). So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this treat definitely needs to be filed under ‘now and then.’

Related Questions

Who’d have thought tapioca would be such a deep topic? But, you know what’s even more endless? A dog parent’s curiosity for their furball’s diet. And that’s why I’ve lined up a few FAQs for your viewing pleasure. 

Can Dogs Eat Sago?

Np, sago palms contain cycasin (a neurotoxic glucoside) and can lead to severe liver failure in dogs. Never try and feed your canine sago. Doing so can be fatal for your pet. 

Symptoms of canine ingestion of sago palm include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

If you suspect your canine has ingested sago palm and is displaying one or more of the above symptoms, you need to take it to the vet immediately. Early detection and life-saving treatments are vital in saving this canine’s life. 

Can Dogs Eat Cassava?

Cassava is a super starchy root vegetable that’s commonly found in South America. There’s no harm in feeding your canine properly processed cassava products. Still, it’s not something you want to provide your pet often or in large quantities. 

Raw cassava includes cyanogenic glycosides – a chemical compound that can release cyanide once consumed. Eating wrongly processed cassava can lead to cyanide poisoning. A better alternative to cassava is tapioca flour, for canines and humans both. 

Tapioca doesn’t contain cyanogenic glycosides thanks to its extraction process, and it offers all the goodness cassava has to offer: starch, carbohydrates, and fiber. 

Can Dogs Eat Rice Pudding?

Rice is a good source of carbohydrates for canines and is generally well-tolerated by most dogs. That’s why giving Fido rice pudding as an occasional treat isn’t a bad idea. But, before you do, make sure you consider the following:

  • Milk – Some canines are lactose-intolerant and can’t be given cow’s milk in any shape or form. However, if you invest some time making a rice pudding for your pup at home, you can use alternatives like coconut milk.
  • Sugar – If your canine has diabetes, is prone to obesity or is approaching its senior years, you’re going to want to watch its sugar intake. You can cut down the quantity of sugar in the pudding or skip it altogether. 
  • Protein – Dogs love eating sweet things, but if you’re planning on cutting out the sugar – you’re going to need an ingredient to tempt your canine into eating the pudding. That’s where protein comes in. You can break from tradition and add some ground chicken to the rice pudding recipe to entice your pooch into taking a bite or two. 

What Snacks Are Good for Dogs?

There quite a few human foods that make incredible canine snacks, taste and healthwise (these are our favorite). If you’re looking to change up your doggo’s snacking routine without compromising nutritional values, you can try the following:

  • Coconut oil and peanut butter pupsicles: This treat is super-easy to whip up and includes the goodness of coconut oil and peanut butter. FYI, coconut oil is excellent for bad bread, itchy skin, and building immunity. Unsalted peanut butter is a great source of protein.
  • Baked turkey jerky: If your dog is a fan of meat and would like nothing better than chewing on a piece of jerky, then this treat is for you. All you need is lean turkey meat and an oven, of course!

Up Next: Can Dogs Have Grape Jelly?

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