Can Dogs Eat Cheez-Its? Are Cheez-Its Safe for Dogs?

Most dogs seem to have an innate sense for knowing when we’re about to crack open the snacks, and of course, they want to be involved! Whether it’s a Super Bowl party or a movie afternoon on a rainy weekend, Cheez-Its are the perfect snack for many different occasions.

But should you share these small salty and cheesy crackers with your dog? Are Cheez-Its safe for dogs? The short answer is no. There’s absolutely nothing in these crackers that will be of any nutritional benefit to your dog. While the occasional cracker won’t do your dog any harm, this foodstuff isn’t something you should be feeding your dog on a regular basis.

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What do Cheez-Its Contain?

Cheez-Its contain a pretty lengthy list of ingredients, which we’ve listed as per the Cheez-Its website:

  • Enriched flour (containing wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate, vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid)
  • Vegetable oil (high oleic soybean, soybean, palm, and/or canola oil with TBHQ for freshness)
  • Cheese made with skim milk (skim milk, whey protein, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes, annatto extract color)
  • Also contains 2% or less of salt, paprika, yeast, paprika extract color, soy lecithin

A standard sized serving of Cheez-Its, which works out at about 27 of these small crackers, contains:

  • 150 calories
  • 8 grams of fat
  • 230 milligrams of salt

Cheez-Its also come in a range of other flavors, including hot & spicy and pizza flavors. These may contain ingredients that could be toxic to your dog, like onion powder or spices that could irritate their gastrointestinal tract.

What’s bad about Cheez-Its for dogs?

Sick French Bulldog
Image credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

As you might have guessed from the ingredients list, Cheez-Its contain a high level of salt. Too much salt or sodium can result in your dog vomiting or suffering from diarrhea. It can even cause sodium ion poisoning. Dogs shouldn’t eat more than 100 milligrams of sodium per day, so if your dog did accidentally eat a whole serving of Cheez-Its, that’s going to provide over double their recommended sodium intake.

Symptoms of sodium ion poisoning include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Fluid accumulation

If left untreated, sodium ion poisoning can lead to tremors, seizures, and potentially kidney damage.

The dairy content in Cheez-Its can also cause allergy flare-ups for some dogs. The Cummings Veterinary Center at Tufts University lists dairy ingredients as one of the major canine food allergies. If your dog seems to be suffering from itchy red skin or digestive issues after eating some of these crackers, then they may be suffering from an allergic reaction.

As if that wasn’t enough to put you off giving these to your dog as a snack, Cheez-Its are relatively high in fat. Dogs do need some fat in their diets, but too much can become difficult for them to digest. This can lead to their pancreas becoming inflamed, leading to a painful condition called pancreatitis.

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Homemade alternatives for your dog

If you can’t resist the temptation to give your dog some crackers, then baking your own DIY and healthy version of Cheez-Its is a much better alternative than feeding them the real thing.

We use the following recipe to make tasty cheese crackers for our dogs. If your dog is allergic to dairy, swap out the cheddar for an ingredient you know they can tolerate, like sweet potato or pumpkin. Adding turmeric gives these crackers the attractive golden color of Cheez-Its, without using paprika.

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups sharp grated cheddar
  • 2 sticks softened butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • Milk

All you need to do is combine the cheese and softened butter before adding the flour and mixing well. Add a small amount of milk and mix until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in film and chill for 1 hour. Roll out to a thickness of around ½ inch, and cut into whatever shape you like.

Place on a baking tray and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Keep the crackers in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze and defrost a few at a time as and when you need them.

You can even get some Cheez-It shaped pastry cutters if you’re determined to make your dog’s cheese crackers resemble the real thing! Once you’ve cut out the crackers, make a small hole in the middle using a skewer, and we bet your dog won’t be able to tell the difference (although you should probably warn the rest of your family).

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Wrapping it up

Cheeze-Its don’t contain any nutritional value for your dog, but unfortunately, they are high in calories, fat, and salt. If your dog eats a small number of these crackers, it’s unlikely to do them any harm. But you shouldn’t intentionally feed them to your dog.

It’s always best to feed your dog a nutritionally balanced diet, made up of primarily their main dog food, which is designed to meet their needs better than Cheez-Its! Choose a high-quality brand of dog food that’s approved by the AAFCO for your dog’s particular life stage.

You can always make your dog some healthy treats instead, and feel great knowing they’re packed full of healthy ingredients and are a great alternative to the not-so-healthy Cheez-Its!


Featured Image Credit: Mike Mozart, Flickr