Can Dogs Eat Veggie Straws? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ
By Beth Crane
Veggie straws are a multicolored snack food, and while they’re a tasty snack for us, can dogs eat them? Dogs shouldn’t eat veggie straws. A few pieces are unlikely to cause an adverse reaction, but veggie straws should not be offered as treats or meals. They contain nothing of nutritional value for dogs and contain ingredients that can be harmful.
What Are Veggie Straws?
Veggie straws are deep-fried, processed, potato-and-corn-based snack foods widely available in stores across the US. They come packaged in bags with different flavors, including plain, salted, spicy, and cheesy.
What Are Veggie Straws Made From?
Veggie straws are made from several ingredients, which can differ according to the brand and flavor but are primarily made from potato flour, potato starch, and corn starch. Other ingredients include:
- Oils such as canola, sunflower, or safflower
- Spinach powder
- Tomato paste
- Artificial colors
- Beetroot powder
- Onion or garlic powder
Veggie straws are made by combining the ingredients and shaping them into straws before being deep-fried in the oil to make them light and crispy. Looking at the nutritional information on veggie straws, we can see that they contain high amounts of fat and salt, similar to potato chips. These amounts give us an insight as to why they’re not good for dogs:
Per serving size (38 straws), veggie straws contain:
- Seven grams of fat
- 220 grams of sodium (salt)
- 17 grams of carbohydrates
- Less than one gram of protein
How Healthy Are Veggie Straws for Dogs?
Looking at the ingredients above and the nutritional information, it’s safe to say that veggie straws are not healthy for dogs. If we use a 33-pound dog as an example, one serving (38 straws) of veggie straws provides:
Veggie straws contain lots of salt and fat without any vitamins or minerals, making them an unhealthy, non-nutritious food for dogs. In addition, while some of the ingredients are healthy, such as potatoes and corn, the way they are prepared makes them unhealthy.
The Potato as a whole vegetable contains valuable nutrients for dogs, such as magnesium, vitamin B, and iron. However, when it’s processed and powdered, potato loses all its nutritional value.
Corn is also a healthy food for dogs in its whole form, providing a good source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber. But again, processing corn removes its nutritional benefits. Both potatoes and corn often have fat, salt, and sugar added during processing.
Why Is Too Much Fat Bad for Dogs?
Too much dietary fat can cause obesity which affects all body systems. It lowers a dog’s quality of life and has been proven to reduce its lifespan. Additionally, excessive fat intake can cause painful inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis.
Why Is Too Much Salt Bad for Dogs?
Excessive amounts of sodium can be toxic to dogs. Salt toxicity in dogs is serious and can cause:
Onion and Garlic Powder
Some varieties of veggie straws (such as spicy or ranch flavors) can contain garlic and onion powder. Onion and garlic are highly toxic to dogs, and the powdered forms are more concentrated and more toxic. In addition, onion and garlic can cause anemia in dogs due to a substance found in them called N-Propyl Disulfide. N-Propyl Disulfide takes the place of oxygen molecules in red blood cells, and the oxygen cannot circulate. It also destroys red blood cells, leading to anemia.
Recently, the FDA has investigated a potential link between high-grain and potato diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dogs. Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is an enlarged heart and reduced contractility caused by blood not being able to flow through it correctly. This condition can lead to fatal heart failure.
How Many Veggie Straws Can My Dog Eat?
If your dog does eat one or two veggie straws, it’s unlikely to harm them. However, a full bag of veggie sticks will likely cause adverse effects and may harm your dog. Some of the effects that can be caused by a dog eating a portion of veggie sticks include salt toxicity, pancreatitis, obesity, and anemia (if they contain garlic or onion powder).
What Should I Do if My Dog Eats Veggie Straws?
If your dog does get hold of some veggie straws and eats them, you should first determine just how many they could have eaten. If they’ve eaten one or two veggie straws, they’re unlikely to cause your dog harm. If they’ve eaten a larger amount, or you’re unsure how many they’ve eaten, call your veterinarian and provide them with the number of veggie straws you think your dog has eaten, the brand of veggie straws and flavor, and any signs of illness your dog might be showing. Your vet may ask you to bring them in for treatment or wait to observe them for signs of illness. The signs to look out for include the following:
- Hunching in pain
If you notice any of the above signs of illness after your dog has eaten veggie straws, take them to your vet’s office immediately. Take the packaging with you if you take your dog in, as it can help your vet decide the appropriate course of treatment.
What Are Some Healthy Alternatives to Veggie Straws for Dogs?
Healthy alternatives to veggie straws include vegetables cut into small pieces such as carrots or pumpkins, fruits like strawberries or bananas, or treats specifically made for dogs (in moderation).
Veggie straws are not healthy for dogs, and they shouldn’t eat them under any circumstances. They’re not toxic (unless they contain onion or garlic), but they offer no nutritional benefit and contain large amounts of fat and salt. In addition, there are no whole vegetables in veggie straws, and they’re not much better than potato chips. Healthier alternatives to veggie straws include whole vegetables and fruits or treats specifically formulated for dogs.
Featured Image Credit; BW Folsom, Shutterstock