Few takeaways are as popular as pizza, and it has become a staple of midweek feasts, and a saviour from the freezer when you need a quick and stodgy supper. It is the typical junk food though and isn’t healthy for us humans, even if it is extraordinarily tasty.
The smell alone is enough to tempt your hound out of hiding, nose in the air and tail wagging as they eye up your crusts. But can dogs eat pizza or pizza crusts safely? Let’s explore whether humans and hounds can share a deep dish, or if this cheesy delicacy is best kept away from our dogs.
As delicious as pizza may be, your dog shouldn’t really eat it. It’s considered junk food for humans after all, and it’s even worse for our furry friends who have much smaller fat and calorie needs compared to humans. Ideally, your dog shouldn’t eat pizza. However, a teeny-tiny piece as a one-off treat shouldn’t cause them any serious harm, provided they aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients like wheat or cheese.
Pizza is indulgent and many of the main ingredients in excess are considered “bad” for dogs, such as fat, salt, and sugar. When eaten in large amounts, these can all cause illness in your furry friend. Just like with humans, you’ll need to moderate how much fat, carbohydrates, and sugar your pup eats to prevent obesity and other long-term conditions like diabetes. Meanwhile, too much salt is considered toxic. If your dog is already struggling to maintain a healthy weight, they definitely shouldn’t munch a fatty snack like a slice of pizza.
Salt isn’t the only dodgy ingredient in these delicious doughy meals though. Pizza usually contains some onion and garlic in the sauce or as a topping, and both of these are considered toxic to dogs.
If your dog has a dietary allergy or intolerance to wheat or gluten, then they shouldn’t eat pizza because the base is essentially bread and contains both. If you own a gluten-sensitive breed like a Border Terrier, they shouldn’t munch on a margarita. Plus, any dog that has been told to follow a hypoallergenic diet should also avoid pizza because of the wheat and dairy content.
Pepperoni might seem like a tasty meaty treat, but it isn’t great for dogs, much less when it’s atop a cheesy, greasy pizza. As you know, dog’s shouldn’t eat pizza but even if you pick the pepperoni off to toss just the piece of meat to your dog, it’s pretty unhealthy. This is because pepperoni is highly processed, fatty, and salty.
Although a piece or two might be perfectly fine for your dog, you should only offer them pepperoni in small amounts and on rare occasions to prevent any potential illness or weight gain. After all, just six pieces of pepperoni has almost as much fat as a whole slice of pizza!
A lot of us leave behind pizza crust, and it can seem a shame to waste it. Especially when there’s a hungry hound giving you their best puppy eyes to convince you to let them have a nibble. A small piece of plain pizza crust should be safe for your dog to eat, but don’t let them eat a lot and never give them more than one piece of crust. (Less if they’re super small, like a Chihuahua!)
Pizza crust can still contain some of the “bad” things from pizza, like fatty cheese and trace amounts of onion or garlic, but not in the same amounts as a full slice of pizza. Because there isn’t as much cheese or salt in it, it’s not quite as unhealthy as a whole slice of pizza.
However, it’s still far from good for your pup. There’s next to no nutrition in a crust, and it’s essentially nothing but empty carbohydrates which your dog doesn’t strictly need.
Your dog shouldn’t be licking pizza sauce out of a pot, and eating lots of this rich spread can upset their stomach and make them sick. Pizza sauce is rich and often has a lot of sugar and salt in it, as well as toxic onion and garlic.
Licking up a drop of marinara off the floor shouldn’t be dangerous though, and if your dog only has a little bit of sauce, then they should be perfectly fine. But they shouldn’t eat smotherings of pizza sauce, and it’s far from a healthy treat for your furry friend.
Dogs can not eat pizza dough, and if your dog has managed to eat some pizza dough you must take them to the vet urgently. Pizza and bread dough are full of yeast and when it reaches your dog’s stomach the dough begins to rise and expand inside them, distending their stomach and causing painful and life-threatening bloat. Rising yeast also releases alcohol into your dog’s bloodstream which will intoxicate them and can be fatal.
If your dog eats pizza dough or bread dough, it should be considered a veterinary emergency because it can cause life-threatening illness.
Pizza is a junk food without a doubt, and it is considered “bad” for dogs because it can contain toxic ingredients that can harm your precious pup, as well as the potential to cause illness and obesity if eaten in large amounts.
Firstly, most pizzas contain garlic or onion either in powder, puree, or fresh forms. These tangy ingredients might help to make a rich and flavourful sauce, but they are considered toxic to dogs. And if your dog eats a lot of rich pizza sauce, it can upset their stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
The main problem with pizza is that it is stuffed with fat thanks to all that delicious, oozy cheese. If your dog scoffs too much fat regularly they will start to gain weight, which can lead to an increased risk of cancer and diabetes.
However, munching fatty food can also put a strain on their digestive system and cause gastrointestinal illness, or trigger a condition called pancreatitis. If your pup has had pancreatitis before, they’re more prone to another flare-up and will need to eat low-fat food for the rest of their life.
Salt on the other hand is safe for dogs in small amounts but considered toxic in large doses. A single serving of a frozen margarita or pepperoni pizza usually has about 1.3-1.5g of salt, which is several times more than what your dog should eat in a day.
To put that into perspective, most medium-sized dogs shouldn’t eat more than 0.1g of salt a day, or 0.2g of salt per 1000 calories eaten. (Remember, most dogs need much less than 1000 calories!)
Meanwhile, sugar is non-toxic but it’s another food that can lead to your pup piling on the pounds if they eat a lot of it. Eating lots of sugary foods can also contribute to tooth decay and other oral health issues, just like with people. Too much of the sweet stuff in your dog’s diet can also lead to them developing diabetes.
Eating a tiny bit of pizza as a one-off treat should be reasonably safe for your dog. But your dog shouldn’t be allowed to eat a whole slice, and certainly not a whole pizza.
If they somehow manage to snuffle a slice or two, the likelihood is that they will get a stomach ache, accompanied by bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. In serious cases, they might develop acute pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening and requires urgent treatment from your vet.
So if your pup has eaten a lot of pizza, the safest thing to do is to contact your vet for advice.
Generally, eating a tiny piece of pizza should be fine for Fido. But this luxurious treat should never be fed to them regularly, and definitely not in the place of dog food. But your dog shouldn’t eat pizza regularly, and definitely shouldn’t eat it by the slice.
Technically, dogs can eat a tiny piece of pizza and be perfectly fine. However, this takeaway treat is very unhealthy for dogs and they definitely shouldn’t eat it as a snack or snuffle whole slices.
Ideally, your dog shouldn’t eat pizza at all to avoid any potential illness, but if they somehow eat a little bit or steal a single crust, they will probably be ok.
It is important your dog never eats a lot of pizza, because the large amounts of fat can trigger a dangerous condition called pancreatitis. If your pup has pilfered some pizza and is showing signs of illness, no matter how mild, contact your vet for advice.
We all know how good the smell of pizza is, so there's no doubt that your dog will be begging at the table to try and nab a slice. Instead of letting them snaffle a slice, feed them a complete, balanced diet that is perfectly portioned, such as Pure, so you know that your dog is getting all the nutrients they need in every mouthful. If their dinner is as tasty as yours, you might be able to stop them begging you for a piece of your pizza.
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.