Everyone likes to lounge around from time to time – as busy as the world around us might get, there always comes a point where you decide to take some time for yourself. Whether it’s books, board games, or some good guilty-pleasure screen time, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of not having anything to do.
Taking time off wouldn’t be the same without snacking, of course, and cracking open a box or bag of some snack food only adds to the experience – pretzels, chips, popcorn, or whatever our preferred munchies happen to be are all time-honored additives to the act of taking a break. Doritos in particular has earned a strong following as a snacking food for their pleasant crunchiness and the company’s range of powerful and distinctive flavors, from the ordinary cheese seasoning to the many more exotic tastes that have more recently hit the market.
Not long after you’ve got settled in, though, you may get the feeling you’re being watched – your dog will either hear you getting into position or realize that you aren’t nearby, and will promptly come running to join you. Whether or not you’re happy to have your furry friend cuddling up to you, it’s only a matter of time before they start asking you for some of your snacks.
Apart from the usual argument about whether or not you need to share your snacks, your dog poses a different problem entirely; because of the differences between human and dog metabolism, things that you enjoy as a snack food may turn out to be harmful to a dog, and vice versa. The classic example of this phenomenon is chocolate, which is harmless to humans but can be fatal to dogs even in relatively small amounts.
If your dog sees a big bag of Doritos open, chances are they’re going to try and dig in. What will happen if you let them do so?
What’s the Risk?
The main risk in Doritos is in that signature flavoring powder that makes for the hot, spicy taste we all love so much; although it comes as a shock to many new pet owners, it has long since been proven that many ordinary spices from your kitchen shelf are potentially lethal to dogs. Onion and garlic can cause potentially dangerous digestive complications; nutmeg actually interferes with the canine nervous system, making it an unusual but undeniable risk to your pet’s life.
Even if it won’t kill your pet, most of the spices involved are not particularly good for them either – dogs are far more sensitive to seasoning than humans and will react with severe indigestion or diarrhea to amounts that a human could consume with no ill effects of any kind. Salt, one of the most common seasonings in nearly any kind of cuisine, can also cause rapid dehydration and urinary tract complications if a dog is allowed too much of it at one sitting.
Even without all this, chips are hardly a healthy food; they are prepared in a manner that actively boosts the number of empty calories they contain and are made of starchy ingredients with little nutritional value, to begin with. They may be tasty, but the generations of parents labeling them as ‘junk food’ did have a point.
In light of all of this, it’s generally a bad idea to give in to your dog’s entreaties to be allowed a go at your bag of chips. The spices involved are bad for them in many ways, and, like all chips, the preparation process involves loading them with more empty calories and oils than are advisable for anyone, human or dog.
The Good News
Although they should not be allowed to munch on them freely, you don’t need to rush your dog to emergency care every time they snag a dropped chip behind your back. Doritos do contain substances harmful to dogs, but the quantity on each individual chip is far below what it takes to do any lasting damage.
Additionally, many Dorito flavors no longer obtain the original spices at all, but rather a chemical substitute that enhances flavor better resists the heat of the manufacturing process, and enjoys a more stable shelf life. While this substitute powder does not make the snack any healthier, it does not contain the same harmful elements that natural spices do, rendering more exotic flavors of Doritos somewhat safer for dogs.
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Don’t make Doritos a regular part of your dog’s diet, even if they are being given as a ‘side dish’; despite the advent of artificial seasonings, many still use the worrisome natural components that can do serious harm to your dog. They have negligible, and arguably negative, nutritional value, and should be kept away from the dog if at all possible.
If you happen to drop one and can’t get to it before the dog, don’t worry too much; it takes more spice than one will find in a single chip to cause any ill effects, and a dog living even a somewhat active lifestyle should manage to burn off that excess calorie intake inside a few days. Keep a closer eye than usual on your dog’s behavior for at least one or two days, and seek veterinary assistance if you notice any symptoms developing.
As a rule, you should not be giving in to your dog’s attempts to get your food; it shows a certain lack of discipline and encourages unruly behavior that can make a dog less of a beloved pet and more of a damaging nuisance around your house. Try to encourage behavior patterns that will make the dog less inclined to approach your food in the first place; use a strict feeding schedule, with the dog only ever eating in one place and one kind of kibble, to teach the dog that they are not allowed to touch your food.
A commercially available dog food, properly apportioned, should keep your pet healthy, happy, and full enough that it doesn’t want your Doritos in the first place.
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