If you had to pick a favourite snack, crisps could well be top of the list. Without fail, at the mere rustle of a packet one of my four-legged housemates comes trotting over to watch me eat and try scrounging for some.
Can dogs eat crisps as a treat too, or should we exercise tough love and refuse to let our pups sample this snack?
No, dogs should not eat crisps because they are very unhealthy for your furry friend and offer no nutritional value. Although a couple of crisps might be tasty, they’re just not a very doggy-friendly food. (No matter what the puppy eyes are trying to tell you.) As an owner, you sometimes have to resist their puppy-eyed pull and refuse to share your snack for their own good.
It should go without saying that crisps are not a healthy snack even for us humans. Meanwhile, for our dogs, they’re even worse. This is because dogs are smaller than we are and need far less calories, salt, and fat in their diet. Even just a couple of crisps can take up a lot of their recommended daily allowance for these.
Although Wotsits are touted as a less unhealthy variety of crisps, they’re still not good for dogs to munch. Admittedly they are baked rather than fried, so they aren’t as full of fat as your usual snacks. They also have no artificial colours or preservatives (no mention of no artificial flavours though.)
But one packet of Wotsits still has a lot of fat, including saturated fat, salt, and even sugar. They also use milk so if your dog has a dairy allergy, you really don’t want them to get into a bag. If your pooch somehow scrounges a dropped Wotsit, it shouldn’t cause them any harm. Just don’t make a habit of popping a puff into your pup’s mouth every time you have your own packet.
Like other kinds of crisps, you shouldn’t deliberately feed Quavers to your dog. But if your dog manages to eat a Quaver, they should be perfectly fine.
As well as the usual worries about fat, salt, and artificial nasties you have to worry about with all kinds of crisps, it might surprise you to find that Quavers contain garlic and onion powder. It won’t be enough to harm your dog if they only eat one or two, but they definitely shouldn’t scoff a whole bag or eat them regularly. Even dogs who eat small amounts of onion or garlic regularly can develop anaemia. If your dog has an allergy to dairy, soya, wheat, or barley they shouldn’t eat Quavers because they contain all of those ingredients.
Although nachos are made from corn instead of potato, they are still high in fat and salt and can be full of artificial flavours or preservatives that could be harmful to your dog. Because of this, dogs shouldn’t eat Doritos or nacho chips either. If your dog has an allergy to corn or struggles to digest grains in their diet, they definitely can’t eat any nachos.
Pringles are admittedly made differently from other crisps, since they are made from a dough of potato starch, water, and cornflour that is deep-fried and seasoned. If you couldn’t guess already, that means you really shouldn’t feed them to Fido because they are fatty and usually salty. In fact, 30g of even plain Pringles usually has more salt, fat, and saturated fat than a similar-sized bag of crisps so don’t deliberately feed them to your furry friend. A single pringle snuffled off the floor shouldn’t cause any serious harm though.
If your pooch manages to snuffle a crisp they should be okay, but they definitely shouldn’t eat cheese and onion crisps regularly. Onion is toxic to dogs, and although the amount in a packet of crisps isn’t enough to poison your pup, eating a little onion or garlic regularly can lead to problems even if it’s in powdered form like the flavours found on crisps.
The biggest problem with salt and vinegar crisps is the amount of salt. Just 12.5g of crisps has 0.2g of salt, which is the entirety of a medium dog’s recommended daily allowance. Most dog foods already have the levels of salt a dog needs to stay healthy, so a salty snack like salt and vinegar crisps will likely push them into unhealthy levels of salt consumption. Plus, your dog probably won’t enjoy salt and vinegar crisp anyway because of the bitter vinegar taste.
The same rules apply to prawn cocktail crisps as any other, so no, your dog shouldn’t eat prawn cocktail crisps. It might surprise you, but a bag of prawn cocktail flavoured crisps has almost as much salt as salt and vinegar flavoured! There’s onion powder in there too, which isn’t ideal for Fido. Just like any other crisp, a crisp or two on a rare occasion shouldn’t be cause for concern, but dog’s shouldn’t eat crisps regularly or have their own handful or it can cause problems.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, yes, crisps are bad for dogs.
Although a single crisp on the odd occasion should be “safe” for a healthy, adult dog, it’s not a snack you should encourage and definitely not a good choice for a treat. If your dog manages to eat a dropped crisp they should be fine, but you should ask your vet for advice if your dog somehow manages to eat a whole packet of crisps.
Firstly, crisps just don’t offer any nutritional value for dogs. The only thing they really provide is carbohydrates, and dogs certainly don’t need more carbs than what’s already in their dog food. Added carbs in their diet are likely to contribute to unhealthy weight gain. Crisps are also high in fat and salt, which need to be moderated in your dog’s diet to keep them healthy.
Too much fat, especially unhealthy saturated and hydrogenated fats found in crisps, can lead to weight gain and in worst-case scenarios can cause pancreatitis.
Meanwhile, too much salt will probably make your dog dehydrated, but in some situations it could lead to sodium poisoning. If your pooch eats excess salt regularly, it can cause problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. If your dog has a condition affecting their kidneys and needs a low-salt diet, then they definitely shouldn’t have crisps.
If your dog manages to eat a whole bag of crisps, it can make them seriously sick. Your pup will probably get a bad case of stomach ache and potentially suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea. Eating so many crisps could put them at risk of sodium poisoning and pancreatitis.
These conditions are unlikely but they are life-threatening, so it’s best to prevent them entirely. Plus, if your pooch managed to grab a bag unsupervised, there is the possibility the crisp packet will get stuck on their snout or head and suffocate them.
Of course, these are all worst-case scenarios and unlikely to happen, but they’re not impossible and it’s always best to prevent them entirely for your pup’s safety. Weight gain is more likely though, and not to be taken lightly. More than half of Britain’s dogs are overweight or obese with numbers continuing to rise and it’s one of the biggest concerns amongst vets.
If your dog’s anything like mine, a crisp won’t even touch the sides. Even with dogs that do chew, a crisp or two as a treat isn’t very valuable for them since it’s small and gone in seconds. It won’t satisfy their appetite, nor will they savour it.
Instead, you can make something far more nutritious and dog-friendly for them to eat that will be just as delicious and special for your furry friend. For example, your could thinly slice and bake sweet potatoes to make chewy dog-safe “crisps” for Fido. Otherwise, slice and bake some apples for a crunchy, tasty treat your dog will love that are perfectly safe and healthy for them to eat.
What’s more, treats like this don’t have to be as strictly moderated as processed “junk” foods like crisps, which means your pooch can have more of them and still be within their recommended calorie and treat allowances.
No, your dog shouldn’t eat crisps because they are unhealthy for dogs and offer no nutritional value. While snuffling a single crisp is unlikely to cause your furry friend any harm, you definitely shouldn’t get into the habit of giving your dog crisps each time you pop a packet open.
Eating a lot of crisps in one go can cause acute bouts of illness such as gastrointestinal upset, but even eating a few crisps regularly can contribute towards long-term problems like obesity.
Instead of unhealthy snacks full of nasty additives and artificial flavourings, fill them up with a complete and balanced meal, such as Pure. A healthy, nutritious diet like Pure is not only packed full of wholesome goodness, but it's also really tasty too. Much better than letting your pooch snaffle a load of junk food!
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.