Dogs are like little furry ninjas whenever you’ve got a cheesy snack. They creep up quietly, just as that first bite goes into your mouth, and when you look away from it their waiting with ‘that’ look. So, can your dog eat Cheetos?
We don’t recommend letting your dog eat Cheetos. While they can probably eat a few pieces and likely be fine, Cheetos have dairy and lots of salt. That’s just in the ‘regular’ variety, but spicy Cheetos also have garlic and onion powders in them and these are toxic for dogs (especially smaller ones).
Today we’re going to elaborate a bit on Cheetos and why they aren’t really suitable for our furry friends. We’ll go into depth on ingredients, explain why smaller dogs are more at risk, what to do if your dog eats a whole MESS of Cheetos, and also give you some alternates to placate your cheese-cravin’ canine. Let’s get started!
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Cheetos and your dog: Alium
The biggest problem with Cheetos when it comes to your dog is their variety. While standard Cheetos still aren’t great for your dog, their ingredients aren’t overly dangerous. There’s vegetable oil, corn meal, cheese seasoning, whey, and salt. So, with standard Cheetos, it’s mostly the dairy and salt that are bad for your dog.
Now, if you like your Cheetos with a little kick, then you’re probably eating ‘Flaming Hot’ Cheetos and you will want to look at the ingredients. You’ll see that there is garlic and onion powder present. This is not something that you want to give your dog, as veggies from the Alium family are actually toxic to them.
Alium includes vegetables such as garlic and onions and raw, they are EXTREMELY toxic to dogs, but even in a powdered form they aren’t good for them. A large dog might be able to eat a few and seem fine, but if they get into some bags you’ve got set out at a party then it could be quite dangerous.
With smaller dogs, eating a whole bag is even more dangerous (which we’ll expand on shortly), so our recommendation is that you don’t give your dog Cheetos at all, or stick to one piece and ONLY then if they are regular, 1st-variety Cheetos.
Can my dog eat just a few spicy Cheetos?
Your furry friend can be quite manipulative when it comes to getting a little of whatever you are eating but with spicy Cheetos, it’s best to be firm about them. Don’t let that disappoint you, however, because you can still treat your buddy while you treat yourself – just be sneaky about it.
When you are going to munch some of your favorite Flaming Cheetos, prepare a quick snack treat for your dog at the same time. For instance, if your dog is not lactose intolerant, then they can have a few small pieces of actual Cheese while you are eating your Cheetos.
Your dog will love it and in small amounts, you’ll be more likely to get a tummyache with those Cheetos than your dog will with their actual cheese. While you could skip dairy altogether by giving them ‘vegan cheese’, we advise against this – many of them use onion or garlic powder – so it’s practical and safe to use regular cheese.
Just limit the serving to no more than 3 or 4 small bites for large dogs and 2 for smaller dogs (which you can cut up smaller to make them seem like more so that your dog won’t give you ‘the eye’!).
Why are Cheetos worse for small dogs?
With the dairy components it’s a matter of digestion. Dogs don’t normally ingest dairy and lack the enzyme to properly handle it, though large dogs have more mass and thus it takes more Cheetos to upset their tummy.
With the spicy Cheetos, however, you are dealing with genuine toxicity from the Alium components and at a lower body weight, small dogs are going to be much more sensitive and vulnerable to their effects.
Enough so, in fact, that if your dog gets into a bag of Cheetos when you step away, then you want to get them to the vet immediately. While Cheetos are harmless to us, you have to remember that as much as we think of our dogs as furry children, their physiologies vary greatly from ours.
To give you an instant mental picture of how significantly different it is, consider this: Did you know that grapes can kill your dog? We didn’t know why for years, but now we know that they contain tartaric acid which is fatal to canines. With human snacks like Cheetos, always err on the safe side — ask your vet!
What if my dog ate half a bag?
If your dog is already established as having a decent tolerance to lactose and if they are large, then half a bag should just give them a tummyache. With a smaller dog, consider the bag size. A ‘snack pack’ bag of Cheetos might just give them indigestion, but you will need to watch them for the next hour carefully.
If your large or small dog shows signs of tummy distress, it’s really best to get them to the vet right away. With any sort of commercial snack, you really have to be careful, even with snacks that your dog has enjoyed before!
The reason for this is that ingredients can change the moment that a vendor learns that there is a human-safe ingredient that will do the same thing, but cost them less. Without having some sort of way to be informed when this happens, there is always a slim possibility of a treat turning toxic.
Keep human snacks out of reach and if your dog has a particular favorite, make them a separate, comparable snack, and check online recipes for doggy-safe alternatives that are as close as possible if your pooch is a little picky. It’s the only option that’s 100% safe for your dog where snacks are concerned.
What if my dog really loves cheese?
This is not a problem. Most dogs can eat mozzarella, cheddar, or even those weird ‘American Cheese’ slices that some of us are suspicious about. The trick is learning the amounts that you can feed your dog (and avoiding those imitation cheese slices… stick with real cheese).
If your dog is not used to eating Cheese that isn’t labeled with a cool Cheetah, then all you have to do is start off with a single, small bite of it, and then keep an eye on your dog.
If they don’t seem to suffer any discomfort in their tummy and nothing unexpected is produced from –ahem– well, from the ‘front or the back’, then your dog is able to process that amount of dairy. You can try a little more later, just keep the amounts very small.
With a few exceptions, most dogs can eat cheese safely, you just need to find out how much and enforce a strict limit on how much that they get to have. That way, you can both enjoy a little cheesy flavor together from time to time.
The Verdict: Cheetos are Cheet-No’s
While a few Cheetos will probably be fine, it’s ultimately going to be up to you. Regular Cheetos can upset a dog’s tummy, just from the whey and salt alone, but spicy Cheetos are actually toxic and should definitely be avoided.
Making a separate snack is much better and be sure to keep the Cheetos out of reach of your dog. Should they get into a bag or a bowl with a large amount, then get them to the vet right away! They simply aren’t designed to eat 100% of the foods that we do, so it always pays to err on the side of caution!