Hot Cheetos are one of the most popular savory snacks in the US and have also been sold worldwide. We all know our pets are super sensitive to the rustle of a chip packet, and their sad brown eyes are dangerously persuasive when it comes to making us share our treats.
But are they a snack we can safely share with our pets? Or are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos likely to be flamin’ dangerous for our dogs?
Can dogs eat hot Cheetos?
Hot Cheetos are ultra-processed food, which means they have a lot of different ingredients. Many of these are used to add flavor to the snack rather than to offer any nutritional benefits.
The main ingredient, which gives them their structure and texture, is enriched cornmeal. The next ingredient is oil, which is probably used for frying the cornmeal and giving them a crispy feel in the mouth. The rest of the ingredients are various kinds of flavorings.
None of the ingredients in Hot Cheetos are likely to be poisonous to dogs in small quantities.
Dogs with health conditions
Hot Cheetos may be particularly unsuitable for dogs with certain health conditions. For example, dogs who have heart or kidney problems need to avoid having too much salt, as this can cause their conditions to worsen.
Dogs who take Potassium Bromide (a medication to treat seizures) also need to keep their salt intake constant, or there is a risk that the medication will stop working and the seizures will return.
Dogs who are overweight should avoid eating Hot Cheetos, as they are high in calories and may lead to them putting on more weight. If you are unsure if your dog is the right weight, speak to a veterinarian or veterinary technician for advice.
Do dogs like Hot Cheetos?
Some of the ingredients in Hot Cheetos are likely to appeal to dogs. For example, they are high in fat, which often makes things taste more interesting for dogs.
The flavorings used include milk and cheese, as well as monosodium glutamate, which gives a strong savory flavor. All of these are likely to appeal to dogs as much as they do to humans!
However, Hot Cheetos are, as the name suggests, a bit spicy. Most dogs are not fond of spicy foods, as they cannot understand or enjoy the mild burning feeling that comes with eating chili.
Some dogs do not mind this, and others may learn to tolerate spicy foods over time, but it’s certainly likely to make them less appealing to dogs.
There are a few other flavorings in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos that may not appeal to our pets. For example, most dogs are not fans of citrus flavors, so the lime varieties may not go down as well.
Are Hot Cheetos good for dogs?
Hot Cheetos are an ultra-processed snack food and so are not very good for either humans or dogs. They are made with enriched cornmeal (which contains added iron, folate, and B-vitamins), but your dog should be getting all they need of these nutrients from their regular food and giving them extra will not improve their health.
None of the other ingredients offer any nutritional benefits, so we can’t really say that Hot Cheetos are “good” for our dogs!
Are Hot Cheetos bad for dogs?
Being a snack food, Hot Cheetos are very high in calories. Cornmeal is very digestible, as are the various oils that the Cheetos are cooked in, so it will be very easy for our dogs’ bodies to digest them and absorb the energy.
This means that the nutrients will be easy to convert into fat stores, so dogs may put on weight more easily from eating Cheetos than they would from other kinds of food.
In humans, there are reports that eating large amounts of Cheetos may lead to inflammation of the stomach (“gastritis”) and stomach ulcers. This has not been directly reported in dogs, but there are a lot of different reasons why Hot Cheetos might cause an upset stomach (vomiting and/or diarrhea) in dogs:
- Any new or different food can cause an upset stomach in dogs, particularly if it is high in fat.
- Capsaicin, the active ingredient that causes chilies to be spicy, can irritate a dog’s stomach and intestines.
- Onion and garlic powders can also irritate your dog’s bowel, even if the amounts are not high enough to cause more serious toxic effects.
- A lot of dogs are lactose intolerant, so the milk and cheese in the flavorings may lead to diarrhea.
All of this means that feeding dogs lots of Hot Cheetos is likely to be a bad idea!
My dog has eaten Hot Cheetos and I’m concerned – what should I do?
Eating the odd Hot Cheeto off the floor is unlikely to cause your dog any serious harm, so if your dog has hoovered up the odd puff, you don’t need to panic.
However, eating a larger number of Hot Cheetos could cause more serious issues, including vomiting and diarrhea, or even anemia from the onion and garlic powder.
Hot Cheetos are also more likely to be dangerous for dogs with certain health conditions, including heart disease, kidney disease, or those with a seizure disorder that is being treated with Potassium Bromide.
If your dog has eaten a lot of Hot Cheetos, or if they have an ongoing health condition, then you should contact your local veterinarian for advice. Before making the call, offer your dog a fresh bowl of water to encourage them to drink, as this may help to reduce any side effects of the Cheetos.
Hot Cheetos are not a healthy choice for either humans or dogs, and they do not offer any nutritional benefits to our pets.
There is a risk that they could cause an upset stomach (vomiting and/or diarrhea), especially if they are eaten in larger amounts. Hot Cheetos may be particularly bad for dogs with certain health conditions, including heart disease or kidney disease, or dogs who are taking Potassium Bromide to treat seizures.
If your dog has eaten a significant number of Hot Cheetos, then call your veterinarian for advice.
Ruth graduated from Cambridge in 2014 and has worked as a small animal GP vet ever since. She is particularly interested in internal medicine, as it combines her love of problem-solving and her somewhat geeky love of knowledge, and has completed her certificate in Small Animal Medicine.