You’re stationed on your couch watching TV, a ham and cheese sandwich with a side of Cheetos on a tray in front of you, when your dog gives you the look. Then there’s a faint whine, maybe a plaintive paw at your knee. She licks her lips, eyeing every bite as it goes from your plate to your mouth, looking absolutely pathetic.

Finally, you can resist those puppy dog eyes no longer, so you snag a Cheeto from your plate and hold it up, ready to share, when it occurs to you . . . Can dogs eat Cheetos? Will there be any harmful effects? Are there any toxins in there that might hurt your cherished pet?

It’s time to find out whether you can finish that toss or if it needs to go back on the plate!

bag of cheetos


Depending on which variety of Cheetos you have, there is probably not too much harm with letting your furry friend chomp a Cheeto or two, at least, not from a health perspective. We’ll get to that.

Just practice moderation if you absolutely must provide a tasty Cheeto treat because they can pose a health risk if they eat many of them or if you have a variety other than the original Cheetos brand.

Health Risks

The major concerns are garlic or onion powder, which is a feature of the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and some other alternate versions of the cheesy snack. These ingredients can damage a dog’s red blood cells and can eventually lead to anemia!

What’s even worse is that the symptoms of this or garlic poisoning can take days to manifest, so you may not even know your poor buddy has suffered damage at the time.

With that in mind, the ingredients in Cheetos aren’t particularly toxic to dogs, but they’re certainly not good for them. For one, there’s nothing nutritious about them -- they’re not good for dogs or humans.

Eating too many of them can cause intestinal issues or digestive problems for your pooch. How bad the tummy ache is depends a lot on the size of your dog. If she is a 100 pound dog, she can probably handle a handful of Cheetos with no ill effects, but a smaller breed may suffer misfortune.

Baked chips and other bags of reduced fat junk food.

What’s Inside?

Let’s see what makes up these cheesy puffs. Here is a list of the ingredients in the standard variety of Cheetos.

Standard Cheetos and Cheetos Puffs

  • Enriched Corn Meal
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Cheese Seasoning
  • Canola Oil
  • Maltodextrin
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Salt
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Lactic Acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Artificial Color (Yellow 6)

The vegetable oil contains canola and sunflower oil, which are not healthy for your dog, or anyone really. While delicious, these tasty snacks are really just filler and lack nutritional value.

Nonetheless, these two varieties are not going to cause any health issues if taken in small quantities that are suitable for your dog’s size.

Dangerously Cheesy

Sometimes your dog takes initiative and decides to get herself a snack. This may involve opening bags of chips on her own or chowing down an already open bag when no one is listening.

If that happens, there can be serious health repercussions, but more than likely your pet is just going to be sick for a while and then recover. A lot of this depends on the size of your dog and how much she ingested.

The first thing you should do is contact your vet. As mentioned earlier, Cheetos overdose can cause a variety of health issues such as anemia or intestinal distress, so it’s best to be safe and find out what a professional recommends.

More than likely, your vet is going to want you to monitor your dog carefully to determine what sort of symptoms appear.

Stomach problems are very likely, but are not necessarily something you need to worry about unless it continues for more than a day, in which case you should see a vet. Keep an eye out for any other unusual symptoms and notify your vet when you call to see if they’re a symptom of something specific.

Even after your dog seems to have recovered, you need to keep a sharp eye on your dog, especially if the Cheetos eaten were Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or another variety which contains onion or garlic powder. You are looking for signs of anemia.

Some symptoms your dog may experience are loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, and energy loss. If you detect these (and remember it may take time for these symptoms to appear), then you should see a vet immediately.

If you discover that your dog has gotten into Cheetos but she is allowed to roam outside, it’s a good idea to find her immediately so you can watch her. It’s always a good idea to be able to track your dog and locate her in situations such as these or if she goes missing.

One incredibly helpful tool is a Fi Smart Dog Collar, which is a sophisticated GPS tracker (among other useful features), so you can quickly locate your four-legged companion if she is out and about or hasn’t come home.

It can be incredibly important to find her quickly if she has ingested harmful foods or those that are toxic.

Alternative Options

There may be more harm in giving your dog Cheetos than just health considerations. Providing her with unhealthy snack options can also lead your pet to expect to receive these types of treats and can lead to the bad habit of begging.

Not to mention that dogs already struggle with obesity regularly and unhealthy goods will only enhance the problem.

But you don’t have to give your dog unhealthy snacks in order to share food with her. There are some healthy alternatives which you can give her which will be a fun human food treat but will be much healthier and better for her in general.

Some options include fruits (such as apples, watermelons, strawberries, and blueberries) and vegetables (cooked sweet potatoes, cooked green beans, broccoli, peas, and carrots).