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Can Dogs Eat SunChips? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

Hot Barbeque Potato Chips Ready to Eat

Vet approved

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Although advertised as a healthy snack, SunChips aren’t the best snack to share with your dog. Regardless of marketing tactics, all chips lack nutritional value for dogs (and humans, too), and more often than not, contain harmful ingredients for our pooches. It’s a bummer.

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, duh. That’s why it’s a treat.” You’re right. Still, there are better and safer treats out there for your dog that won’t put them in harm’s way.

In this post, we’re looking closer at SunChips and why they’re unhealthy for dogs. We’ll also give you some chip alternatives you can offer your furry best friend.

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Is It Bad Feeding Dogs Chips?

Dogs can eat a few chips and will most likely be absolutely fine. The harmful contents within a chip aren’t enough to make your dog seriously ill. However, even the healthiest chips are deemed unhealthy for dogs and can cause adverse side effects. So, while dogs can have a couple of chips and be fine, this doesn’t mean you should include them as a part of their regular diet or treat options, if at all.

Let’s take a closer look at what we mean.

High Sodium

Most people reach for the chips because they’re salty, not sweet. Sodium chloride, or salt 1, contains sodium (40%), an essential electrolyte for dogs. Sodium, together with other electrolytes, maintains nerve and muscle function and balances water and minerals. Dog food must contain a minimum of 0.3% sodium 2 to support healthy growth and development.

However, too much salt 3 will cause the body to pull water from the cells to balance the bloodstream. Unfortunately, this can cause severe cell damage, often in the nervous system, alongside gastrointestinal distress and other signs of salt poisoning 4.

Luckily, it is unlikely that eating chips would lead to signs of salt toxicity in most dogs, as they would need to eat a large quantity (e.g. an 11-pound dog would need to eat 13 packets of standard flavor SunChips, each packet containing 198 grams of chips). Still, this does not mean it is a good idea to give your dog chips; on the contrary, as this is very unhealthy for your dog and might give them an upset stomach. There are many better, healthier, and more nutritious treat options to consider.

Cheese Powder

You can taste it already: the sticky, powdery substance cemented to your fingers as you finish off the bag of nacho cheese heaven. You can never have enough.

Of course, cheese powder is just as unhealthy for us as it is for our dogs. Cheese powder often contains artificial colorings, salt, flavors, and preservatives that wreak havoc on the bodies of dogs and humans alike.

High Carb, High Fat

Chips are typically made from corn (sometimes with wheat) and fried in oil. Corn and wheat can be healthy, but not when deep-fried in greasy fats.

Most of the time, chips come from Genetically Modified crops (GMO), or crops with genetic alterations. This isn’t a problem for some people, but others may want to consider the fact.

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What’s Wrong With SunChips?

SunChips are one of the “healthier” options for chips. They contain fewer artificial ingredients, and the original flavor is vegan. Even so, SunChips are still made from wheat and corn like other chips. They also contain lots of sodium, cheese powder, and fat. Dog owners should avoid offering SunChips to their dogs, no matter how hard they beg.

Chip Alternatives for Dogs

Crunchy bite-size pieces of carrot sticks, hollow, durable Kong toys or lick mats filled with peanut butter (unsalted and without xylitol) in moderation, or cooked plain ground beef or turkey (without any additives or salt) are excellent options for giving your dog that occasional craved crunch. Plus, they’re much healthier than chips.

It’s always best to offer healthier treats to your dog. But even with healthier protein-based treats, you will need to account for the caloric content to prevent weight gain.

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My Dog Ate a Bag of Chips—What Do I Do?

If your small-sized dog treated themselves to too many chips, keep a close eye on them and contact your vet for advice immediately, as your pooch might need treatment.

Luckily, salt toxicosis doesn’t happen often, as the amount they would need to eat to experience salt toxicity is very high. However, too much fat is also a concern that could lead to vomiting, digestive distress, diarrhea, and, as with any other dietary indiscretion, even pancreatitis. It is best to avoid allowing your dog to consume any SunChips; after all, they do not add to their nutrition.

mastiff dog lying on the floor looking away
Image Credit: Helen of Troy, Shutterstock

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If your dog is going to eat a chip or two by mistake, they are likely to be just fine, depending on their size. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. Chips are chips, no matter how much companies convince you they’re “healthy”. Instead, offer your dog a more nutritious alternative if you can’t “ignore” their begging puppy eyes.

Featured Image Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

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