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Can Dogs Eat Cheetos? Are Cheetos Safe for Dogs?

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

can dogs eat cheetos 2 header

Our dogs are our best friends, so they go where we go, and sometimes, they eat what we eat. But is this always healthy?

When it comes to junk food, the answer is no. Cheetos fall into this junk food category, and dogs should not eat them as part of a healthy diet.

Don’t panic if you have fed Cheetos to your dogs before, as they are not toxic or particularly harmful to them in minimal amounts. Feeding them one or two puffs won’t hurt them. However, any more than that, and their digestive systems could start to show unfortunate results.

What makes Cheetos so unhealthy for dogs? What happens when they eat them? Do they hold any nutritional value? If you want the answer to these questions, keep reading. We also go over alternatives to Cheetos in their diet.

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Cheetos Ingredients List

It is often easier to understand what snacks are healthy additions to your pooch’s diet if you want to know what ingredients help and harm dogs. Then, you can screen the snacks before you give them to your dog.

First, here are the specific ingredients in Cheetos:

  • Enriched cornmeal (added chemicals, e.g., thiamin mononitrate)
  • Vegetable oil (corn, canola, or sunflower oil)
  • Cheese seasoning
  • Whey
  • Canola oil
  • Maltodextrin
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • MSG
  • Yellow #6
cheetos and lays
Photo by Ryan Quintal on Unsplash

Not surprisingly, many of our favorite snacks have a similar recipe. However, most of them are not suitable for our canine counterparts.

Dogs need a certain amount of fats in their diet. However, not all fats are the same. They need healthy sources of fat, and Cheetos do not contain any of these. The corn, canola, or sunflower oil are not virgin oils, but in fact, low-grade oil that shouldn’t be fit for anyone to consume as part of a healthy diet.

Cheese by itself is a questionable addition to a pup’s diet, but the cheese flavoring in Cheetos only comes from the unhealthy leftovers in cheese production, the processed whey. Protein in the whey can be healthy, but there is often not much of it left in a usable form in the processed version.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer that makes products like Cheetos rather addictive. It has been banned in most products, or there at least has to be a warning on the packaging. It is not good to have in any part of a dog’s diet. Their digestive system is not made to process it well.

The yellow #6 coloring hasn’t been thoroughly tested for dogs to consume. It is potentially harmful to them, much like MSG.

The base of Cheetos is cornmeal. It can sometimes be a source of carbohydrates in dog food and is not healthy for dogs. In Cheetos, it is “enhanced,” meaning it is full of other chemicals and fats for a better taste and a hard punch of calories.

Are There Any Nutritional Benefits in Cheetos?

After looking through the ingredients list and their individual effects, you might wonder if there is any way that Cheetos benefit your dog?

There is not, to put it simply. Cheetos contain no nutritional benefits for dogs. They have shockingly high fat and sodium content. Canines need a meager amount of sodium in their diet to be sufficient. Too much can cause bloating and other detrimental health effects.

Dogs are relatively sensitive to the amount and type of fat that they consume. Unfortunately for them, Cheetos are brimming with all the wrong kinds, mostly saturated fats. Too much, which isn’t that many, can lead to some severe health issues.

sick puppy
Image credit: Bruno Cervera, Pexels

What Happens to Your Dog If They Eat Cheetos?

Feeding your pup one or two puffs is fine, although it should happen infrequently. Unless they have sensitive digestive systems, they won’t suffer from any illness or symptoms.

If they end up consuming a significant amount of Cheetos, watch out for more dangerous conditions. These can include:

  • Vomiting – Everybody loves a good dish or a tasty snack. Dogs are no different. Some don’t have enough self-control and can end up overeating too fast. This pattern can bring on vomiting, but toxic or disagreeable substances may as well. If it only occurs once, then keep an eye on it. If the symptom continues, consider taking your pooch to a vet for confirmation of gastrointestinal issues.
  • Diabetes – You might not realize it, but many of the same diseases that come from unhealthy lifestyles in humans can also manifest in a dog. Diabetes is one of these and can affect them at any age. It can be treated, mostly through dietary changes. These don’t include Cheetos.
  • Behavior changes – Whether a diet is healthy or unhealthy and the specifics of the food can change your pup. They might act completely differently than the dog you are familiar with after receiving too much of a particular snack or during a diet change. Watch for anxiety or increased lethargy and consider healthier options.
  • Loss of appetite – The various preservatives and chemicals used in human food can sometimes cause loss of appetite for dogs. It can also be a sign of a deeper problem. There are not many dogs who refuse to eat. If it continues, consider a visit to your veterinarian.
  • Obesity – Although this won’t occur after a single Cheeto puff, it is something to keep an eye on. Treats should only make up a maximum of 10% of your pup’s diet. Even this can put some sensitive dogs in danger. Be aware of what their ideal weight is for their breed and age. Dog’s bodies do not handle extra weight well, and they will be exponentially more at risk for heart disease, cancer, joint issues, and more.
a sick beagle dog lying on the floor
Image Credit: Elena Loza, Shutterstock

What About Hot Cheetos?

In 2010, Cheetos was at the top of the popularity chain for cheese puffs in the United States. Worldwide, the annual sales equaled about $4 billion. The adoration for the snack has been the driver for Frito-Lay to develop many Cheetos flavors. But whether your favorite is Crunchy, Cheddar Jalapeno, or Flamin’ Hot Limon, your dog shouldn’t taste any.

The only difference between Crunchy Cheetos and otherwise are a couple of different ingredients, some of which make them even more dangerous for your pup.

For example, the Flamin’ Hot Limon contains unknown ingredients, not a good sign for anyone. Beyond that, they have garlic powder, a substance toxic to dogs.

The jalapeno pepper and other spices in some of the different flavors are not suitable for your pup. They can induce much more volatile reactions if they are eaten.

cheetos by the window
Image Credit: Giorgio Trovato, Unsplash

Alternative Dog Snack Options

When they look up at you with their big puppy-dog eyes, just begging for a little taste, it is practically heartbreaking to tell them “no.” However, we are their caretakers. When we adopted them, we committed to their overall wellbeing.

That doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed ever to give them any treats. Instead, try healthier treats. If Cheetos is the only thing your dog wants, consider not eating them around the pup.

Options to consider include:

  • Apple with peanut butter
  • Green beans
  • Carrot sticks
  • Homemade dog treats
  • Dried bananas
  • Pumpkin

Even though these are better for your dog, it is still essential that treats only make up a 10% maximum of their daily diet.

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Final Thoughts

Having a Cheeto puff or two rarely isn’t going to induce great harm for your dog. It is not hurtful for them to intake a small amount. However, if they have a sensitive system or are allergic to any of the ingredients, watch for more significant reactions.

If you are looking to do the best you can for your canine, treat them to healthier snacks. Cheetos contain no nutritional benefits. The significant quantity of salt in Cheetos is unhealthy for them, along with a few of the other ingredients.

There are many tasty treats for dogs out there, but Cheetos are not one of them. Steer clear of processed snacks, and your pup will appreciate you more for it.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay, Pikrepo

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