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Can Dogs Have Hot Cheetos?

If you are a regular dog owner, you will probably share some of your food with your pet like virtually everyone else. Whether they are tasty morsels leftover from dinner or the occasional snack, little thought is given to whether the food is suited to your dog’s diet, but have you ever wondered if dogs can have hot Cheetos?

Cheetos are made mostly of corn, a grain that is acceptable in a dog’s diet. However, some ingredients in hot Cheetos are bad for a dog. The chili powder in hot spices, together with allium extracts like onion, garlic, chives powder, as well as excess sodium, all disagree with a dog’s metabolism.

In this article, we’ll explain exactly what hot Cheetos are made of so that you can decide whether or not to give this snack to your dog.

Can Dogs Have Cornmeal?

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Image by Stefan Glazer via Pixabay

As dogs are omnivores, they can digest grains in their diets, such as corn, and Cheetos are mostly cornmeal. Cornmeal is also found in most commercial kibbles, often used as a filler, mostly because of its relatively low cost. Therefore, you’d assume that cornmeal is good for dogs.

However, many experts argue cornmeal could cause allergies in dogs. It’s also more difficult to digest than alternatives, such as rice, oats, and barley. The answer seems to lie in balance and moderation, which will also point toward not overdoing the treats made of corn.

Corn is a good source of protein, fats, vitamins, and fiber, along with the carbohydrate value it offers (source). Carbohydrates, of which corn starch is just one source, are sources of energy and a key component in a dog’s diet. Other carbohydrates include oats, barley, and rice.

Whether in kibble or wet form, good commercial dog food is a careful balance of ingredients offering the ideal proportions of protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water (source).

Taste and balance are important considerations in commercial dog food. The protein mostly determines the taste, which is what makes dog food appealing to dogs. For more information, read “Do Dogs Like Dog Food?

Hot Cheetos are a commercial snack made for human consumption, certainly not a balanced food for dogs. While your dog may appear to like the taste of hot Cheetos, they contain no protein or essential fatty acids. 

Our advice is always to look at the packet before you feed your dogs a snack, as it should tell you everything you need to know.

What the Cheetos Label Tells Us

As they say, “We are what we eat.” That’s why we should always read food labels. To judge whether you’d like to give your dog hot Cheetos, a simple guideline is to start the Cheetos label.

Sodium Level

Snacks such as Cheetos are high in sodium, which is present in Cheetos at an alarming 10%, according to the packet. A big warning about excessive salt is that it leads to sodium-ion poisoning, which could cause fever, depression, diarrhea, or seizures, manifested by thirst, kidney damage, and vomiting.

Dogs need a certain level of sodium in their diets, but excessive amounts are dangerous. 


But what about the heat and spices in Cheetos? It’s these that should worry you as a dog owner the most. Spicy foods aren’t good for dogs. They can result in diarrhea, thirst, gas, and the risk of triggering canine pancreatitis, a serious life-threatening inflammatory condition (source).

Capsaicin, a chemical in chili peppers that gives the heat, is not recommended for dogs as it acts as an irritant. Given that it’s used as a repellent and in pepper spray should be a clue that it’s not designed to be ingested by dogs. Studies show that it causes hypertension in dogs as well as irritates the digestive tract (source).

Another factor to consider is that dogs have far fewer taste buds than humans — about 1,700 to our 9,000 — and therefore probably don’t taste the spice anyway. But it’s not always the spices that pose the greatest risk but rather the other ingredients used with them in foods such as hot Cheetos.

Red lights will flash when you read that hot Cheetos are seasoned with onion, chives, and garlic powder. Commonly called alliums, these are very harmful to dogs as they contain a toxic compound that causes red blood cells to break down, leading to hemolytic anemia (source). 

This condition causes extreme tiredness, disorientation, and increased heartbeat and leads to jaundice, vomiting, and dark urine.

Also contained in Cheetos’ hot seasoning is sodium diacetate and disodium ribotides, which contains disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate. These are flavor enhancers derived from vegetables.


According to the label, hot Cheetos contain dairy products like buttermilk, cheese cultures, whey, and whey protein concentrate. This should be the first warning sign, as some dogs, especially at a young age, are lactose intolerant.

Ingestion of dairy could cause digestive problems, especially with young dogs, as well as other general food allergies resulting in itchy skin (source). A small amount of dairy is fine for dogs if they’re not lactose intolerant and can produce lactase to digest the dairy product. It’s always advisable to be aware of this danger.

Final Thoughts

As a dog owner, we are sure you’d always want the best for your pets. An appropriate diet is one of the most important responsibilities required of an owner. However, it’s easy to break the rules, and often it’s done in a well-meaning way without much thought to the food we offer our furry friends.

One of the easiest foods to share with our dogs is the snack we are eating. If that snack is hot Cheetos, now you know what the consequences of your actions could be, and you can make an informed call about the dangers next time you think of sharing them with your dog.


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