Can Dogs Have Root Beer?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: September 13, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

We all love to share stuff with our dogs. We share our snacks, meals, and our beds. When we don’t share them, there’s a pang of guilt that arises within us as we look into the pitiful eyes of our favourite domestic animals. 

But are we allowed to share everything? Can we share our root beer?

Sometimes, we don’t have to offer our soft drinks. Mischievous dogs can take a sip when we leave our drinks uncovered, or they can ‘mistakenly’ run into our soft drink bottles, spilling the content and having a drink full. 

To answer whether dogs can have root beer, let’s first dive into the main definition of root beer.

dachshund standing next to glass of root beer soda
Can Dogs Have Root Beer?

Root beer is a soft drink that combines sassafras extract with filtered water, sugar, preservatives, caramel colouring, and natural flavors. 

The use of safrole oil derived from sassafras root barks, which gave the soft drink its distinct taste, was banned in 1960 because of its carcinogenic tendencies. 

Since then, manufacturers have used artificial sassafras flavoring or safrole-free sassafras extract. Sometimes, methyl salicylate (the largest component of wintergreen oil) gives the drink its primary flavor. 

They are mostly non-alcoholic and without caffeine (Barq’s root beer contains caffeine). However, hard root beer is the alcoholic variant of the soft drink and contains a significant amount of alcohol.

If you have had this drink, you would be familiar with its sweet but distinct taste. It is mainly sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar. 

Root beer comes in a variety of flavors, including licorice, ginger, chocolate, and vanilla, among others. Major producers of this drink are A&W, PepsiCo, Barqs, Keurig Dr Pepper, and Dad’s.

So, can dogs have root beer?

The answer is no. Dogs cannot have root beer. It can be toxic to canines in several ways, and you should prevent your dog from drinking it. 

The ingredients used in manufacturing the drink can have many adverse effects on your dog, leading to severe health issues or death when taken frequently or in large quantities.

Is Root Beer Bad for Dogs?

french bull dog holding glass of soda
Is Root Beer Bad for Dogs?

Yes, root beer is bad for your dogs, and you should keep your dog away from the drink. 

Like many sodas, root beer contains amounts of sugar, sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol that may be normal for human consumption but very toxic when consumed by canines. 

Let’s dive in further!

Firstly, the high sugar content in root beer is dangerous to your dog’s health. Dogs can consume foods with natural sugar, but products with added sugar are unhealthy for dogs and should be avoided. 

Consumption of sugar can cause weight gain and harm the dog’s various organs and metabolic processes. 

Having root beer frequently can also cause tooth decay, gum inflammation, tooth enamel decay, and stomach upset for the canine due to the high sugar content in the drink.

Secondly, the drink contains artificial sweeteners that harm your dog. Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, can cause liver failure and seizures. While all root beers may not contain xylitol, the sweeteners in the drink are equally as dangerous.

dog with glasses holding glass of root beer
Is Root Beer Bad for Dogs?

Thirdly, long-term health issues such as high blood sugar, obesity, diabetes, and inflammation of the pancreas, which can be life-threatening for the dog, can result from frequent consumption of root beers or sodas with similar ingredients and sugar content.

Lastly, while regular root beers do not contain significant amounts of alcohol, hard root beers contain enough to make dogs drunk due to the ethanol in beers. Their systems are unable to process alcohol properly, and this may result in alcohol poisoning in the canines.

Most of these effects result from dogs drinking large amounts of root beer frequently. 

A small sip is not harmful to the dog and may not require a vet visit (except in cases where the soft drink contains xylitol), but it’s recommended that you keep the canines as far away as possible from the soft drink.

What Happens If My Dog Drinks Root Beer?

dog laying in bed drinking glass of root beer
What Happens If My Dog Drinks Root Beer?

If your dog drinks a small quantity for the first time, it may lead to mild irritation and vomiting. Root beers and sodas can also dehydrate dogs. 

The fizz from the drink discomforts the animals, could lead to gas build-up, and may bloat their bellies. Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and vomiting may result from taking large quantities.

Root beer is bad for dogs when taken often and should be completely avoided. Some drinks your dog can take instead are water, pure fruit juices in small amounts, coconut water, kefir, Pedialyte, pure vegetable juice, nut milk, and beef or chicken broth.

Is Caffeine Toxic for Dogs?

Ingestion of caffeine is harmful to dogs. It can result in diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and sometimes, death. While only a few root beers contain caffeine, coffee or black tea contain enough and should be clear of canines. Coffee contains methylxanthine, which is toxic for dogs.

Can Cats Have Root Beer?

cat with hat drinking glass of soda
Can Cats Have Root Beer?

Cats, just like dogs, should not have root beer because of its high sugar level, caffeine, and sweeteners. 

However, severe health issues would only result from frequent drinking of large quantities. If your cat sipped on a root beer, chances are it would get away with an upset stomach. But it is safer to keep your cats far away from root beers and sodas.


cat holding two glasses of soda
Can Cats Have Root Beer?

Dogs should not drink root beer, and neither should cats. The drink has a level of sugar, sweeteners, and caffeine (in some cases) that is harmful to dogs and cats.

Share your water, pure fruit juice, nut milk, and coconut water with your dog, not your root beer or soda.