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Is dextrose good or bad for dogs? What are the medical applications for dogs?

dextrin symbol for dogs

dextrin symbol for dogs I was very surprised to find that many people are concerned about the affects of dextrose on their dogs.  I wondered in the first place where they were hearing that there was a bad health sides.

Dextrin is in a class of sugars called POLYSACCRIDES = MANY single monosaccharide molecules joined together.  

The group of sugars called Dextrins are a low-molecular-weight carbohydrates (formula (C6H10O5)n ) produced by the hydrolysis of starch or glycogen. Dextrins are mixtures of polymers of D-glucose units linked by α- or α- glycosidic bonds.

Hydrolysis is the chemical breakdown of a compound (in this case sugar) when immersed in water.

 DEXTRIN uses for dogs

One commercial application of dextrin is via a product called BeneFiber BeneFiber is a relatively safe fiber supplement that can be helpful in controlling chronic diarrhea. They say that benefiber has  2 grams of wheat dextrin. In each teaspoon  (approximately 4.2 grams).

The BIG caveat for this as with any dog medication, is you should not use it regularly and instead only as vet recommended and preferably fix the cause of the problem rather than masking it with a short term ‘treatment’.

In other searches on Dextrin we find that a lot of sites discuss “Veterinary Dextrose 5%”  Injection for dogs”.  This is for a “5% Dextrose Injection, USP is a sterile, nonpyrogenic solution for fluid replenishment and caloric supply in single dose containers for intravenous administration.”

This is the typical Dextrose application used in vets – a Dextrose Hydrous in water solution

The reason they dissolve Dextrose in water and give it intravenously to dogs is that it can be combined with other drugs (without major side effects)  to increase a dog’s blood sugar amount.

This is required when a dog has severe dehydration or a diabetic episode.

The reason that dextrose is used instead of other sugars is because it is a relatively “simple” sugar, the body can quickly use (breakdown) for energy or the other sugar tasks it is being used for.


“Fluid therapy in clinical medicine is used to fulfil the following objectives:

(1) to replace dehydration deficits,

(2) to maintain normal hydration,

(3) to replace essential electrolytes and nutrients, and

(4) to serve as a vehicle for the infusions of certain intravenous medications.

While dextrose can be a life-saving therapy, it also can cause disease and illness if not administered appropriately. Ref 2

MALTODEXTRIN acts as an energy source, texturiser, carrier, thickener and binder in various pet food and feed specialties applications. So you can see its use in food is because it is readily utilised by dogs systems.

So the upshot is that unless you are a vet, you should not be administering dextrose to your dog for an illness issue.

The use of dextrose in treating dog Hypoglycemia

“ Hypoglycemia refers to an abnormal decrease of glucose concentration in the blood, or more simply – low blood sugar levels.  A normal blood glucose value for healthy, non-diabetic dogs is 3.3-6.1 mmol/L.  Hypoglycemia occurs when excessive glucose consumption (the body using available blood sugar) depletes the reserves of glucose in the body.

Hypoglycemia can be a result of endocrine or hepatic disorders, a higher energy requirement for glucose, lack of glucose due to fasting, or toxicity.  Hypoglycemia will leave dogs feeling weak and groggy.  If left untreated, unconsciousness followed by death will result.

Hypoglycemia is defined as a low blood sugar concentration.  As sugar (in the form of glucose) is the primary energy source in the body, low blood sugar levels will ultimately affect organ and brain function.” Ref 4

SHORT term hypoglycaemia treatment with dextrose

“Initial treatment is aimed at correcting the hypoglycemic crisis by way of raising the blood sugar levels.  Depending on the severity and symptoms, this may be initially managed by rubbing glucose or corn syrup on the gums (a treatment which can be started by the owner at home).  If more aggressive therapy is required, the dog will be placed on a intravenous fluid infusion containing concentrated dextrose. Blood glucose levels will be reassessed after the initial treatment.” Ref 4


We are aware of people using Dextrose powder and dissolving it in water for their dogs … but as said, unless you know the amounts and the severity of your dog’s condition, this can be a dangerous practice to do at home.

You should also be aware that grain or vegetable dog food is full of carbs, so dogs typically already get a massive excess of sugar (carbs) into their body that their pancreas has to try and regulate.

ON top of this many supermarket treats use added sugar, oils and salt to con dogs into thinking that a grain based treat is actually tasty to eat.  The goal being to bypass a dog’s natural instinct to not eat a non-meat product and also fool their system into not having Satiety  – so their natural eating cut off point is never reached.

Dextrose is a common sugar used in several vet applications, but as you can see, it can do as much damage as good, when not administered by a vet.

Most of our meat based dog treats are 100% animal product- with NO added sugar.



1  Veterinary Dextrose 5% Injection, USP  /vet/veterinary-dextrose-5-injection-usp.html

2  Fluid Therapy for Critically Ill Dogs and Cats – WSAVA2005 – VIN

3  animal-nutrition-dextrose-monohydrate

4   Hypoglycemia in Dogs



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