Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can eat both animal and plant matter. Knowing this, you might assume that you can share a taste of your world-famous Caesar salad with your pooch without repercussions.
But, unfortunately, the croutons in your salad could make your dog unwell, especially if they contain garlic or onion in the ingredient list. Keep reading to learn about croutons, their potential health benefits, and the dangers of offering them to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Croutons?
While your dog might love a crouton because of its trademark crunch, it’s not a good food to offer. Croutons don’t really provide any nutritional value to dogs (or humans, for that matter), and the ingredients used to make these crunchy salad toss-ins can actually be toxic for your dog.
Many store-bought croutons contain seasonings like garlic, marjoram, or onion, which can be toxic to dogs. Garlic and onions contain a substance called thiosulfate, which can cause oxidative stress to red blood cells and cause anemia. Garlic is more harmful than onion. While your pup is unlikely to have any severe complications from one or two croutons, they can still upset your dog’s stomach and make them feel unwell.
Plain croutons without any seasonings or additives are probably okay for your dog, but there is no reason to give them. There are plenty of other healthier and tastier alternative snacks that your pup would prefer.
Can Dogs Eat Homemade Croutons?
If you love making your own croutons, offering a few to your pup is probably okay if it loves the taste and crunch. Since you’ll be making them yourself, you know exactly what ingredients are going into the recipe and can avoid harmful things like onion and garlic. Just remember that croutons have little to no nutritional value, so don’t give them to your dog too often or in large quantities.
Are There Health Benefits to Croutons?
If you decide to feed your dog homemade croutons, you might wonder if there are any health benefits to this crunchy snack.
Croutons may provide some health benefits if they’re made with whole-grain bread, which contains fiber that can help maintain intestinal health. Unfortunately, most store-bought options are made with enriched bread and will not contribute to your dog’s health at all.
Croutons, in general, are high in calories and low in nutritional value. However, their crunch is probably the most satisfying part for dogs which can be replicated by offering dog treats.
What Do I Do If My Dog Ate a Crouton?
If your dog ate a crouton or two, there isn’t much to worry about. You can monitor it for any signs of gastrointestinal upset, but chances are your pup will be fine. At worst, it will get a stomach ache because it ate something new that its digestive system isn’t familiar with.
It takes a large amount of garlic or onions to cause toxicity in dogs, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Studies show that it takes between 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight to produce harmful changes to a dog’s blood. The same research shows that onion toxicosis is noted in animals ingesting more than 0.5% of their body weight in onions at a time. Though, a high dose (600 to 800 grams) in one meal or spread across several days can cause red blood cell damage.
What’s a Better Snack Option?
It’s okay to offer your dog human food now and then. However, it’s imperative that if you plan to do so, you know every ingredient that’s going into the food you’re offering. As we mentioned above, onions and garlic are toxic for dogs, and many store-bought foods contain these ingredients in some capacity.
Some of the healthier human foods you can give your dog as a treat occasionally include:
- Fully cooked meat (e.g., chicken, lean beef, pork)
- Peanut butter (without xylitol or added sugar)
- Popcorn (without salt or butter)
What Are Other Toxic Human Foods?
Before you offer your dog another taste of human food, you must learn which foods are toxic for your pet.
If your pup has gotten into one of the foods above, you need to reach out to poison control or take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Croutons are a crunchy snack that some dogs can’t resist. However, if your dog loves itself a crouton now and then, we recommend making your own from scratch instead of buying the store-bought options. You can control what ingredients go into your croutons when you make them yourself, so you know they’ll be safer for your pup to snack on.