First introduced in 1921, the Cheez-It is a crunchy snack cracker loved around the world by children and adults alike.
You know who else adores Cheez-Its? Dogs, that's who. If some canines had their way, they would gobble down bowl after bowl of the stuff — and then puppy eye you for more.
But should our four-legged friends consume this delicious if heavily processed baked treat often found at Super Bowl viewing parties and summertime picnics in the park?
The short answer: Yes, but only very rarely, only in small quantities and only under close dog parent supervision.
Where do Cheez-Its come from?
Measuring 1.0 x .1.0 inches with notched edges and an iconic hole drilled in the middle, Cheez-Its are a salt-coated, cheese cracker manufactured by the Kellogg Company in factories across America.
Though the exact recipe is kept under wraps by the parent brand, Cheez-Its' list of ingredients is surprisingly long.
Some of it, like enriched flour, vegetable oil, skimmed milk cheese, and aged cheddar cheese, doesn't raise any major red flags. They certainly aren't toxic or life-threatening like, say, chocolate or raisins can be.
But some of the secondary inclusions, such as salt, paprika oleoresin and annatto extract color, which gives Cheez-Its their signature yellowish hue, should give you pause. While these are included to extend shelf life and are not explicitly detrimental to your dog's health, they don't add any notable nutrients or vitamins to your pup's diet.
Can dogs eat Cheez-Its?
Let's just be clear: No one's eating habits — human, animal or otherwise — should be built on a steady ration of Cheez-Its.
The average serving size, about 27 crackers, is equal to 150 calories — about a fifth of what a 30 pound dog needs daily.
More worrisome, though, is the fat and salt content: 8 grams and 230 milligrams, respectively. And of the 8 grams of fat, 2 are saturated, which are problematic because they can contribute to high cholesterol levels, heart problems, and weight gain.
On the upside, Cheez-Its are sugar-free so they won't contribute to tooth decay.
Are there any health benefits of Cheez-Its for dogs?
As noted above, the health benefits of Cheez-Its are minimal at best because they don't bring anything of value to a balanced diet. As an occasional treat or reward, however, they are suitable for doggo consumption.
To its credit, the Cheez-It brand doesn't try to represent itself as a regular dog snack.
Posting from their Twitter account, Cheez-Its has seemingly acknowledged that, while alluring to dogs, this forbidden fruit should only be shared carefully, selectively, and in moderation.
"Silly puppy, Grooves are for humans," reads one from 2016.
"If we ever come out with Cheez-It dog food, you'll be the first to know ;)," notes a second from 2015.
The best ways to feed Cheez-Its to dogs
If you are going to feed Cheez-Its to dogs, it's probably best to serve them after they've already eaten their normal meal so as not to disrupt their appetite.
If you're bingeing on some Netflix and tossing back crackers on the couch, sharing 3-7 with your dog (this should be dependent on breed and size, naturally) won't lead to any long-term health complications — just don't leave the box unattended and come back to find it empty and overturned, the contents scattered across the floor.
Crumbling Cheez-It crackers into smaller, more easily digested pieces is recommended for smaller and younger pups.
Are there any concerns with feeding Cheez-Its to dogs?
High salt levels
Too much sodium can result in vomiting or diarrhea — or trigger salt poisoning. As kibble is already sodium-rich, most dogs do not lack for enough salt.
Dogs don't need dairy
Dairy products, which constitute the majority of Cheez-Its makeup, aren't a natural part of dogs' diets. As a result, a heavy concentration of milk and cheese can upset your pal's digestive tract or lead to an allergic reaction and itchy coats.
Too much cheese can be harmful to dogs' health in the long term
In addition to unwanted weight gain, too much fat can inflame the pancreas, an acutely painful condition that might require emergency treatment from a vet.
Cheez-Its should be fed to your dog only as an occasional treat, and it's perfectly safe to do so. But like a lot of yummy junk foods, Cheez-Its should never be consumed in large quantities or every day, by dogs or their humans.
For other ideas about what to feed your dog, including healthier alternatives, check out our list of everything your dog can and cannot eat.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.