Picture yourself at a barbecue enjoying a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and a cold beverage. Of course, your dog sees you crunching on a tasty snack and wants some too. But can dogs eat Flamin' Hot Cheetos?
Let's look into what's in Cheetos and specifically whether or not dogs can, or should, eat Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
The history of Flamin' Hot Cheetos
There's no way to hide the neon orange coating that covers your fingers after eating Cheetos. The original Fritos were created by Elmer Doolin in 1948 in San Antonio, Texas after he purchased a corn chip producer. That same year, a man named Lay started a snack food delivery company in Nashville. In 1961, the two companies merged and became Frito-Lay.
The company's later snacks included Cheetos, which are made of cornmeal extruded through differently shaped dies, then oven-dried or deep-fried until they "puff" and coated in powdered seasonings. Fast forward to the 1970s, when Richard Montaez was working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California. One batch of Cheetos ended up not being covered in powder, so he took those home and coated them with a spicier chili powder. His creation was so popular, the Flamin' Hot Cheetos flavor became the company's best-selling snack brand.
Can dogs eat Flamin' Hot Cheetos?
Many humans love spicy foods, and sometimes it's fun to give your dog the same kinds of food that you eat. But dog owners know that there are foods dogs can't eat. Dogs cannot eat some foods that are in the "spicy" category, such as onions and chives. While it is ok for dogs to eat bell peppers, it is not ok for dogs to eat spicy chili peppers.
Hot chili peppers contain capsaicin. While capsaicin is not toxic to dogs, even eating a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea and burns in the mouth, throat and stomach. While the list of ingredients in Flamin' Hot Cheetos doesn't list chili peppers or capsaicin specifically, it is likely that the "hot" sensation comes from capsaicin, which could be included in the "natural flavors" listed in the ingredient list. Additionally, the list of ingredients does contain both garlic and onions, which are on the no-no foods list for dogs.
Issues with feeding fogs Flamin' Hot Cheetos
The issues with feeding dogs Flamin' Hot Cheetos are two-fold: one, it is a processed snack food, and two, it contains off-limits ingredients. Snacks like that may be tasty, but they are empty calories. According to the label, 13 pieces contains 160 calories, which means your dog could consume a lot of extra calories with no nutrition with just a few pieces.
More importantly, onion and garlic, even in powdered form, can cause anemia in dogs even in relatively small amounts. Two other no-no foods for dogs are salt and oil. High fat and salt intake heightens the risk of dogs developing pancreatitis. The saturated fat in these snacks is harder for dogs to process. And finally, the spiciness could irritate their gastrointestinal tract, leading to an unpleasant "clean-up" situation later.
What should I do if my dog eats Flamin' Hot Cheetos accidentally?
If your dog grabs a Cheeto off your plate, or even if you give him one on purpose, don't worry about it. One Cheeto is unlikely to cause any complications. The issue with feeding dogs Flamin' Hot Cheetos would likely come from consumption of more than one. If your dog eats a large quantity of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, it's best to call your vet and ask what to do. It's likely that your dog will experience diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upset, so be ready to take her outside regularly. Otherwise, follow your vet's instructions.
If you think your dog might grab the bag when you're not looking, keep your spicy snacks out of his reach. Giving your dog a fun snack is a good idea, but try to choose something that is within the realm of foods that dogs can safely eat and that isn't highly processed.
Dogs can eat most things, but salt, fat, sugar, onions, garlic, and spicy peppers, which are all ingredients in Flamin' Hot Cheetos, are not on that list. For more info on what your dog can or cannot eat eat, see this list.