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Can Dogs Eat Tamales? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Visnja Radosavljevic

Last Updated on July 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

Can Dogs Eat Tamales

Can Dogs Eat Tamales? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Tamales are popular in Mexican cuisine, and people worldwide love to eat them. If you also love to eat tamales and have a dog, you’ve probably noticed your canine lurking around, looking for tamale scraps.

Tamales are not suitable for your canine friend because some of the spices used in the preparation are listed as toxic for dogs, so you should try to prevent your dog from eating them if possible.

But what happens if you do give tamales to your furry friend? How do they impact their health? Read on to learn more about tamales and their effect on dogs, their nutritional value, and why it is not safe for your canine to consume them.

divider-dog paw

Tamales Ingredients

Tamales are definitely tasty for humans, but they contain various ingredients that can harm pets, which is why your dog shouldn’t eat them.

This Mexican dish contains the following ingredients:

  • Meat — The meat in tamales would normally be safe for dogs, but since it typically contains spices, it could lead to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Onion — Your dog should never consume onions because they are toxic to canines. Regardless of the form of the onion (powder, fresh, or cooked), consuming this plant could lead to serious health problems that range from gastrointestinal upset to anemia.
  • Garlic — This plant is in the same category as onions and is also toxic to dogs. Garlic toxicity can also lead to various health problems, including anemia, so it’s best for your dog to avoid foods containing garlic.
  • Garlic or onion powder — Garlic and onion powders contain the highest concentrations of the previous two ingredients, and they can be extremely harmful to dogs, even in small amounts. Therefore, you should always avoid giving foods that contain these powders to your canine.
  • Plantain/Corn husk — The husk used to cook the tamales can also be extremely dangerous for dogs. Since it’s hard, it can lead to choking hazards and intestinal blockage, as your dog won’t be able to digest the husk after consumption.
  • Salt — Dogs shouldn’t consume foods with high salt levels.
  • Various spices — Most spices that are safe for human consumption are bad for your pet’s tummy and can cause constipation and gastrointestinal issues, even leading to vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Hot peppers — This ingredient is very irritating; it will lead to an upset stomach in your dog and possibly cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Image Credit: martenh, Pixabay

Tamales Nutrients

Here’s a list of all the nutrients in a meat-filled tamale:

Calories: 257 kcal
Protein: 11 grams
Carbohydrate: 24 grams
Fat: 13 grams

Taken at numerical value, these nutrients are well-balanced for dogs, as there are high protein and fat levels. However, since tamales contain multiple ingredients that could potentially harm your furry friend, it’s best to keep them away.


Is Eating Tamales Safe for Dogs?

Eating a tiny piece of a tamale every now and then may not harm your dog. However, there’s a possibility that your canine is sensitive and may react badly to tamales after consuming a piece of one. Also, the husk can be particularly dangerous for dogs, which is why you should ensure that your dog never gets ahold of one.

Overall, consuming tamales may not kill your dog, but it can lead to several health problems, so this food is considered unsafe and is simply not worth the risk.

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Why Are Tamales Not the Most Suitable Food Choice for Dogs?

Tamales have multiple ingredients that are not ideal for dogs or are even dangerous. After consuming tamales, your furry friend could experience the following health problems:

  • Onion poisoning
  • Garlic poisoning
  • Gastrointestinal blockage
  • Choking

Onion and Garlic Poisoning

If your dog consumes multiple tamales, they will likely experience the signs of onion or garlic poisoning. These include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Lack of appetite
  • Reddish urine

Onion and garlic plants belong to the same family, so their effect on dogs is quite similar in how they can cause health problems. So, if your dog ate a tamale, and you notice any of these signs, you should immediately contact your vet.

tamales on a plate
Image Credit: Vicafree, Shutterstock

Choking and Gastrointestinal Blockage

Consuming the husk from a tamale could cause a choking hazard in your dog, which is potentially deadly. Even if your dog somehow manages to eat the husk without choking, they may still experience gastrointestinal blockage, as it’s not digestible.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Happens If My Dog Eats Tamales?

If your dog consumes a tamale or multiple tamales, it’s best to react promptly and take your canine to the vet. Although they may be fine, it’s possible that your dog may have a bad reaction, which is why you should be cautious.

If you have the ingredient list of the tamales that your dog ate, bring it with you to the vet. Try to remember how many tamales your dog consumed and if they also ate the husk.

Depending on the state of your dog, the vet may need to run blood tests, provide medication, induce vomiting, or prescribe a treatment.

What Are the Possible Issues That Dogs Could Experience After Eating Tamales?

If your dog consumes tamales, you should look out for the following signs and react promptly if you notice any of them:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle coordination loss
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Collapse

Never delay a vet visit if you notice any of these signs in your furry friend, as you could potentially save their life by reacting promptly.

vet examines dog
Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats a Corn Husk?

Corn husks can be dangerous to dogs because they can cause suffocation and choking. If your dog consumes a corn husk from a tamale, it’s best to immediately visit your vet to prevent possible problems.

Depending on the number and size of the husks that your dog ate, they will likely experience digestive issues, so your vet may prescribe medication to help ease tummy pain.

Can My Dog Consume Canned Tamales?

You should never give canned tamales to your dog because they contain more sugar, salt, and other harmful ingredients that may upset your dog’s stomach or poison them.

sick rottweiler dog at a veterinary clinic
Image Credit: Vera Larina, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

While eating tamales won’t be fatal for your dog, they’re not healthy canine foods, and you should do your best to keep them away from your pet. There are plenty of other, safer treats that you can give them instead.

Featured Image Credit: Marcos Castillo, Shutterstock

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