Love it or loathe it, Marmite has been dividing households since its creation in 1902. But can our canine companions eat it? Quite simply, yes - in small amounts. Marmite contains no 'toxic' ingredients, but that doesn't mean it's the healthiest choice for your pooch.
In this article, we discuss if this sticky spread can be given as a tasty treat, or should it simply be avoided altogether?
What is Marmite?
A common condiment in British kitchens, Marmite was invented in 1902 by German scientist Justus von Liebig. He discovered that leftover beer brewers' yeast extract could be concentrated into an edible, high protein savoury spread.
Marmite's main ingredients are yeast extract, salt (sodium), and extracts from spices and vegetables. A shortlist of ingredients perhaps, but Marmite boasts an abundance of nutrients essential for good health. It’s packed full of B vitamins, including, B12, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid, as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and selenium.
Is Marmite good for dogs?
While a breakfast of Marmite on toast is a healthy food choice for us humans, it isn't particularly "good" for dogs to eat.
Our furry friends actually require a lot of the same vitamins and minerals that we do — and we already know that Marmite is stuffed with those! However, when we consider its high salt content and high calorie count, the potential risks may outweigh the health benefits.
Is it dangerous for dogs?
Ok, so Marmite isn't "good" for dogs, but is it dangerous? A small taste, or even the occasional lick of Marmite, is not going to be a problem for your pet, provided they are generally fit and well. However, it's one of those human foods that we must be very mindful about overfeeding.
Let's look at our average adult medium-sized dog, approximately 15kg Cocker Spaniel for example. Each serving of marmite (2 teaspoons) contains 0.86g of salt, which is more than four times this dog's daily salt allowance!
We all know too much salty food isn't good, but in dogs, excessive consumption of salt in one sitting can lead to high levels of salt in the blood — this is called sodium poisoning (hypernatremia).
What are the signs of Sodium Poisoning in Dogs?
Sodium poisoning develops when large volumes of salt are eaten, and the amounts of sodium in the blood become too much. The animal then becomes dehydrated we begin to see:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
Sometimes in serious cases, and without medical intervention, it can lead to seizures, coma, potential organ failure and even death.
There are two very simple ways to ensure this doesn't happen to your pet; firstly, don't feed treats that are known to have a high sodium content, and secondly, ensure that they always have access to plenty of fresh drinking water.
Exceeding their daily salt allowance infrequently, and by a small amount is unlikely to cause sodium poisoning in your dog. However, consistently eating more than they should, can have some long term effects on their overall health. Just like us, too many salty snacks can lead to long term health issues, including heart disease, increased blood pressure, fluid imbalance and eventually kidney failure.
In short, if your dog simply loves a lick of this tasty treat make sure it is just that — a treat! The high salt level of Marmite means that it's not safe for your dog to eat in large quantities or too regularly. A small nibble should be fine, but make sure there is always plenty of fresh drinking water available.
If you notice any of the signs we have mentioned above and are concerned, please contact your vet immediately. If you are in any doubt, you may use our free Felcana Symptom Checker to find out if you need to contact your vet.
What about those B vitamins?
It’s not all doom and gloom—let's look at the good bits! As we've said, Marmite is an excellent source of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
We'll take a closer look at some of these, namely, the B Vitamins which are essential for the bodies' growth and maintenance.
Dogs—and mammals in general—cannot produce these vitamins in their bodies, so they must get them from their food.
The five vitamins listed below are ones found in abundance in Marmite, but they are also found in many other foods that we're sure your furry friend will enjoy just as much.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
- Cobalamin is vital for your dog’s nervous system and helps maintain brain function, it also has a role in red blood cell production, so is key for our dogs' energy levels.
- Our average 15kg dog needs 9 μg (micrograms) of Vitamin B12 per day -
- Healthy sources of Vitamin B12 include beef, fish, poultry, and eggs.
- A dog's daily requirement is the equivalent of 15 boiled eggs (0.6 μg B12 per egg).
- B12 deficiency can look like: diarrhoea, weight loss, or lethargy.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Riboflavin helps maintain muscle strength, aids the formation of red blood cells and helps keep our dog's eyes healthy. It is especially important in puppies.
- Our average 15kg dog needs 1.3mg (milligrams) of Vitamin B2 per day.
- Healthy sources of Vitamin B2 include organ meat (liver, kidney, heart), poultry and egg yolks.
- A dog's daily requirement is the equivalent of 6.5 boiled eggs (0.2mg B2 per egg).
- B2 deficiency can look like: stunted growth, weakness and poor eyesight
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
- Folic acid is the backbone of DNA production, red blood cell formation and is essential in pregnancy
- Our average 15kg dog needs 68μg of Vitamin B9 per day.
- Healthy sources of Vitamin B9 include green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach, kale and green beans), liver, seafood, and eggs.
- A dog's daily requirement is the equivalent of just 60g, or approximately 3 florets, of broccoli (108μg B9 per 100g).
- B9 deficiency looks like: lethargy and anaemia—this is most noticeable in pale gums.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Thiamin is important for brain function and helps our dogs' immune systems fight disease.
- Our average 15kg dog needs 0.56mg of Vitamin B1 per day.
- Healthy sources of Vitamin B1 include peas, fresh fruit (such as bananas and oranges), and meats such as pork, and fish.
- A dog's daily requirement is the equivalent of half of a grilled pork chop (1.1mg B1 per chop).
- B1 deficiency looks like: slower reactions, muscle weakness and anorexia
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Niacin helps the brain function, maintains healthy digestion and has a large role in hormone production.
- Our average 15kg dog needs 4mg of Vitamin B3 per day.
- Healthy sources of Vitamin B3 include meat, white fish and eggs.
- A dog's daily requirement is the equivalent of approximately 1 boiled egg (5mg B3 per egg).
- B3 deficiency looks like: darkening of the tongue, anorexia, blood in stools and bad breath.
As we can see, Marmite is packed full of goodies that our furry friends need — but there are also plenty of alternative human snacks that are healthier alternatives.
It's also important to remember, that if you're feeding your dog a complete dry or wet dog food, that these have been specially formulated to contain everything our dog actually needs in one bowl - so you don't need to stock up on eggs to ensure they have adequate daily intake!
In fact, if your dog is fit and well, and fed canine-specific food it is unlikely that you will need to supplement B vitamins at all.
If you have any concerns that your dog might be deficient, contact your vet.
What foods are Marmite alternatives?
If you've discovered that your pooch goes mad for marmite, then you've probably been tempted to use it in their Kong or Lickimat as a form of entertainment. These brain games are excellent for keeping your dog stimulated while they wait for your full attention.
When making these games, the stickier and tastier the filling the better - here are some delicious alternatives that will guarantee equal satisfaction.
- Unsalted, natural peanut butter (be sure that it doesn't contain Xylitol)
- Cottage cheese
- Plain greek yogurt
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Unsweetened apple sauce
- Baby food
You can mix these with your dog's favourite fruit, vegetables and meats, here are some safe and tasty combinations that we like (but the options are endless!):
- Peanut butter, chopped carrots and shredded chicken
- Cottage cheese, blueberries and chopped bell peppers
- Mashed sweet potatoes, salmon/white fish and broccoli
- Apple sauce, green beans, shredded pork
- Plan low-fat greek yogurt, chopped boiled egg and peas
Pack the ingredients tightly in the toy, freeze overnight and watch them have hours of fun.
YES — dogs can eat Marmite in small amounts.
A small nibble of marmite every now and then will be fine for your dog, but be mindful of how much they're having. Marmite's high salt content means it is not safe to be eaten in high quantities or too regularly.
If you're worried about giving too much, it may be a snack best avoided altogether as excessive consumption can lead to long term health issues or even sodium poisoning.
If your pooch simply loves the stuff and can't keep his paws off it, make sure that there's plenty of drinking water available and limit other snacks throughout the day.
If you notice any signs of illness, use our Symptom Checker or contact your vet immediately.