People love pizza, and dogs tend to want to eat whatever they see people enjoying. Some people love to share, and dogs love eating off of their human’s plate. But the bottom line is that you should never give your dog regular pizza (or at least not the kind that people eat)-no matter how much they beg!
Pizza contains several ingredients that aren’t good for dogs. Even though dogs can eat all kinds of table scraps given to them by their humans, pizza should never be one of them. If your dog is begging you for a piece of your pizza, offer them something else instead. And if they steal a piece, take it away from them as soon as possible and let them know that taking pizza isn’t okay (it’s better if they learn this way than the harder way, which could end up with a long trip to the vet, or even worse).
Now that we’ve established that normal pizza isn’t dog food, we can go into detail about which pizza ingredients are bad for dogs’ health and why. In this article, we’ll cover all the main reasons why it’s a bad idea for dogs to eat pizza, as well as what might happen if they do eat it. But don’t worry, we’ll also go into a little detail on some dog-friendly pizza alternatives.
What’s In Pizza?
There are a lot of different ingredients that make pizza bad for dogs. Pizza is usually covered in tomato sauce, which is high in salt and sugar. Both of these in moderate to large quantities are very unhealthy for almost all dogs. Pizza sauce can also contain additives like vinegar, which are typically not good for your dog’s digestive system.
Pizza usually contains a lot of cheese. Most dogs can’t properly digest the lactose in dairy products, which is found in cheese. Too much dairy can make dogs very sick. You should avoid giving your dog any dairy products, especially if they have stomach or skin problems. Low fat cheeses can be okay if you only give your dog a small amount, but only if you’re sure that your dog can tolerate lactose products.
There are a few pizza toppings that aren’t just tolerable for dogs but might even be a little healthy (like certain unseasoned vegetables, for instance), but many pizza toppings contain too much sodium, fat, and seasoning for your dog to handle. One of the most attractive features of pizza is its wide variety of possible ingredients, but it’s hard to tell which ones are good for your dog and which ones could harm their body.
Most notably, there are many herbs and spices that are often found in and on pizza that can be very harmful (maybe even fatal) to dogs in the right quantity. You should be very careful when eating pizza around your dog because the aroma will be very tempting to them, and the whining you’ll likely be forced to endure can be either heartbreaking or annoying.
Why Your Dog Wants Pizza (Or Why They Think They Do)
You’ve probably noticed that sometimes your dog just stares at the pizza on the counter or in the refrigerator. This likely means that they smell something that they want to eat. Dogs have a much better sense of smell than people do, and they can smell things that are very far away.
If you’re not around, your dog may try to get at pizza that’s been left out in the open or even in a closed container. If they see you eating it, they might start to whine and beg relentlessly. They don’t realize that eating even one pizza slice could result in a serious health problem, or even several health problems at once (especially if there’s more than one harmful ingredient to dogs in the pizza, which there very well may be).
Despite this, many people give in to their dog’s whining and throw them a scrap or two, hoping that it will keep them happy and quiet. The truth is, your dog has no idea what they’re getting into when they eat pizza. It might taste good or perhaps satisfy their curiosity, but in the long run it will make them miserable (and in all likelihood, you as well).
Why You Should Never Give Your Dog Pizza
There’s a lot of human food that dogs can have in moderation and even some that’s healthy for them. But pizza isn’t one of them. You should give your dog treats, but only if they’re healthy and won’t hurt them.
When fed to dogs, pizza can cause a variety of health problems including:
Dehydration. The sodium content in pizza is very high, and will dehydrate your dog if you feed them too much of it. A lack of water in their bodies can cause a number of health problems and will make your dog feel very sick.
Weight Gain. Pizza is very high in calories and fat. In fact, the average 12-inch pizza contains roughly 2,000 calories or more. And you can’t just leave a pizza exposed to your dog and expect them to only eat a little bit of it.
Diarrhea. Pizza contains a lot of lactose, which is a milk sugar. If your dog has lactose intolerance (as many do), they won’t be able to digest the lactose and will have severe stomach and bowel issues.
Other signs that your dog may have consumed pizza include things like lack of energy, unusual odor, or other atypical behavior.
What Else Makes Pizza So Unhealthy For Dogs?
The spices in pizza sauce, as well as in things like the toppings or crust, are mostly if not always unhealthy for dogs. A popular topping like processed meat (such as pepperoni) might very well include at least one toxic ingredient, even though it may seem harmless to your dog in a small amount. But sometimes they’re even downright toxic. Garlic, for example, is very good for us, but it can be toxic for dogs and could even kill them.
Garlic, along with onions, contains thiosulfate, which can be extremely harmful to dogs. The more of these foods you feed your dog, the more thiosulfate will accumulate in their body. These foods can cause a wide range of problems for your dog, including but not limited to seizures, liver damage, anemia, and even death.
If you think your dog may have consumed any or all of these ingredients, it’s important to call or visit the vet immediately. Failing to do so can cause serious problems for your beloved pet. Even if they show no immediate symptoms, the symptoms may just be delayed, or your dog may develop a taste for pizza and consume too much later on.
What To Expect If Your Dog Eats Pizza
It’s not uncommon for dogs to want to eat things that are bad for them. But if your dog eats something they shouldn’t, there’s a chance they’ll have a noticeable reaction. It’s important to note, however, that sometimes you won’t notice any immediate effects and this can still be very dangerous (which is one reason why it’s important to closely monitor your dog’s diet).
In bad cases of food poisoning brought on by pizza consumption, your dog will probably start vomiting within 24 hours or less of eating the food. This is largely what causes the aforementioned dehydration if the vomiting is excessive enough.
Whatever happens, it will probably get messy, so be warned. And while you should always take situations like this seriously, there’s still also the chance that your pet will recover within days or possibly even less.
How To React If Your Dog Eats Pizza
It’s already been said but it can’t be emphasized enough; you should either be at, on your way to, or at the very least on the phone with the vet’s office if you believe your dog has eaten pizza. At best, they will have an upset stomach, but at worst they could die (especially from all the spices in pizza that are toxic to most dogs). Even if they had just a little bit of plain cheese pizza, they can end up very sick.
You should also keep plenty of water nearby, especially if your dog is vomiting a lot. They can easily become dehydrated and they’ll need to flush out their system anyway. Closely monitor your dog and be sure that they know to never eat pizza again, no matter how tempting it may be!
What To Feed Your Dog Instead Of Pizza
Although the greatness of pizza can be hard to replicate, thankfully dogs‘ taste buds aren’t quite as discerning as humans are. So coming up with a recipe that will satisfy your dog and not leave them too sick to function normally isn’t that hard.
One of the best things you can feed your dog is plain old chicken. Put chicken on top of their kibble (if that’s a part of their diet) or serve it plain. The savory taste isn’t exactly the same as pizza but your dog will probably still thank you for it.
You can also make an imitation pizza out of chicken or beef, and maybe some uncooked veggies, placed on top of a plain, thin bread disk (with no fancy additives, spices, or other ingredients to upset your dog’s tummy). It may look strange to you, but your dog can enjoy what looks to them like human food, and without all the health hazards!
Alternative Pizza Options For Dogs
If you really want to make your dog a pup-friendly pizza, here’s a recipe that you can use. It’s obviously not actual pizza, but should be convincing enough.
Plain & Dairy-Free Pizza For Dogs
If you want to keep your dog away from dairy (and no, eggs aren’t a dairy product) you can still make them a pizza that is almost as good as the real thing. All you’ll need is an oven, a pizza pan (normal or deep dish), 2 bowls, a rolling pin, a pizza cutter, nonstick spray (for your pan), a whisk or egg-beater, a clean surface (for kneading), other basic utensils (like a fork for mixing the ingredients), 1 egg, 1 cup of chicken broth (unsalted), 1 teaspoon of basil, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of parsley, 1 cup of flour (preferably coconut or rice flour), and any toppings that your dog can have.
Step 1: Prepare your oven and pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray your pizza pan with the nonstick baking solution.
Step 2: Whisk the dry ingredients together. Place the basil, oregano, parsley, and flour into a bowl and whisk together until they are uniformly mixed.
Step 3: Whisk the egg and broth together. Pour chicken broth into a different bowl (separate from the dry ingredients) and add the egg. Mix them thoroughly using either the whisk or an egg-beater.
Step 4: Form the dough. Pour the wet ingredients into the center of the dry ingredients carefully, then stir them together until they form a dough that is ready to knead.
Step 5: Knead the dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it thoroughly.
Step 6: Roll the dough. Using your rolling pin, roll the dough into a flat and smooth disk (so that it resembles a typical pizza crust).
Step 7: Prepare for baking. Place the dough onto your sprayed pizza pan, then add whatever toppings you (or your vet) approve for your dog to eat. These might include certain carefully selected vegetables (like carrots or peas), unseasoned meats, and pre-made dog treats. If your dog can have a little cheese (for a non-non-dairy version), make sure it’s low in fat (like parmesan or mozzarella) and used in moderation!
Step 8: Bake the pizza. Place the pizza in your preheated oven and bake for about half an hour (30 minutes).
Step 9: Cool and serve. Allow the pizza to cool completely, then cut it into small enough slices for your dog, and serve it to them in moderation.
Other Dog Treats That Aren’t Pizza (But Are Probably Close Enough)
If you want to give your dog a pizza-like snack but don’t have the time to make something from scratch or don’t have the right ingredients at your disposal that would work for this kind of treat, then here are a few other options.
Pizza-Flavored Dog Treats: You can find these at many different pet stores. They come in several flavors and usually are made out of healthy ingredients. Specific products include Exclusively Dog New York Style Pizza Dog Treats, Beggin’ Pizza Flavor Dog Treats, and Bubba Rose Biscuit Co. Pizza Crust Dog Treats.
Cheese-Flavored Dog Treats: You can find these at most pet stores. Specific products include Wholesomes Cheezy Bites Dog Treats and PureBites Cheddar Cheese Freeze-Dried Dog Treats.
Pepperoni-Flavored Dog Treats: These are very popular with dogs. Pup-Peroni is a best-seller in this category (although they recently had a withdrawal of one of their product lines, which occurred when a lot of companies were experiencing supply chain issues, and it technically wasn’t an official recall). Smokehouse USA Pepperoni Stix are another option.
There are plenty of other options for pizza-like snacks to give to your dog that aren’t listed here. Just look online, at any pet store, or in the pets section of your local grocery store. Pizza isn’t only a popular flavor with people’s snacks. Dogs love the taste too!
Pizza is a very convenient food to toss to your dog when they inevitably beg you for it. Pizza leftovers aren’t uncommon, and many people like to eat everything except the crust, which dogs would be happy to eat for them so they aren’t put to waste. And it’s also a great feeling to be able to enjoy one of your favorite foods with your canine friend.
Unfortunately, however, the risks associated with giving your dog pizza are simply too great to ignore. A little bit of cheese, and maybe even a small dose of tomato sauce, likely won’t immediately kill your best pal. But once you start feeding them things like garlic and onion, you could be putting your dog’s health in jeopardy.
You don’t necessarily have to just sit and eat your pizza in front of your whining dog, though. You have other options. If you have the time and the culinary talent, try the above recipe for dog-friendly pizza. And if you don’t have the time or patience for that kind of project, just get some pizza-flavored doggie treats (there are plenty of them on the market). The bottom line is that pizza isn’t good for your dog, but you can still fool them into thinking they’re enjoying it with you.