Pizza is one of the world’s favorite convenience foods. Three billion pizzas are eaten across the United States every year, and even more across the globe. It’s the ultimate comfort food for us humans, but how about our canine companions? Can dogs eat pizza? And is it safe?
We all like to show our dogs that we love them, and we are all guilty of using food to try and demonstrate our love sometimes. Undoubtedly, the best way to show our dogs love is with attention—a game, a walk, a cuddle on the sofa. That said, it’s also OK to give our dogs an edible treat, so long as it’s appropriate and not too much or too often.
As you tuck into your Friday night takeaway, you may be wondering, “Can I share my pizza with my dog?”, “Is pizza bad for my dog?” Pizzas vary hugely in terms of their toppings and ingredients, so you may ask, “Is there a type of pizza that my dog can eat?” or “Is all pizza bad for dogs?” Let’s examine the facts and see.
Can Dogs Eat Pizza? Is it Safe?
In most circumstances, pizza is not an appropriate choice of food for dogs. It’s unsafe because some of the main ingredients are not good for dogs, and neither are many popular toppings. Some of the ingredients in a traditional pizza recipe are not just unhealthy for dogs. They are actually toxic and can cause severe illness.
Why Is Pizza Bad For Dogs?
Pizza usually consists of a crust, a sauce, and various toppings. All of these can be problematic for dogs. That’s why it’s important to understand what your pizza is made with and ensure it doesn’t have any toxic ingredients that might cause your pup to end up at the vet.
Why Is Pizza Crust Bad?
A traditional pizza crust usually contains wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil, and water. Sugar and salt are the main problems for dogs; neither are good in excessive quantities. Especially in processed, store-bought pizza, these ingredients can be present in excessive amounts for human consumption, meaning they will be even more excessive for dogs.
Why is Pizza Sauce Bad?
Pizza is traditionally topped with a tomato-based sauce that commonly contains garlic and may contain onions, spices, sugar, and salt. These ingredients are all bad for dogs. Both garlic and onions are toxic to dogs. When dogs ingest garlic or onion, their red blood cells become damaged or destroyed, and the dog becomes anemic (has low numbers of red blood cells in their blood). Anemia can make dogs listless, tired, and of their food.
“In my experience, many pet owners don’t realize that garlic and onions are toxic for dogs. They are a real hidden problem, and I’ve seen accidental ingestion make dogs very poorly indeed. Many human foods contain these popular ingredients, so dog treats or kibble are always a safer option if you want to give your pup a reward.”Veterinarian Lizzie Youens
Sugar and salt are only appropriate in small amounts, and they mount up quickly in the average pizza, often being added to the sauce, crust, and toppings. On top of all this, any spices added to the sauce, like chili, can cause stomach pain with vomiting, and diarrhea.
What Pizza Toppings Can’t Dogs Eat?
Pizza toppings vary, and most are rich, fatty, and overly processed, so they contain high levels of sugar and salt. Pepperoni, for example, is a fatty and salty processed meat and is not good for dogs. Fresh vegetables may sound OK, but often when prepared for pizza, they are cooked in rich oils or spices that can irritate a dog’s stomach.
Dog Safe Pizza Toppings
Cheese is a common pizza topping, and mozzarella is often used. Most cheeses are safe for dogs but never feed your dog blue cheese as this is unsafe. Dogs usually like cheese and can safely consume a small amount of it.
Exceptions to this would be dogs that are lactose intolerant or dogs with sensitive stomachs. If you’re not sure if cheese is safe for your pup, it’s best to check with your veterinarian.
For most dogs, cheese is a good training treat or an appropriate way of concealing tablets. Mozzarella is a good choice of cheese for dogs as it is low in fat and salt. You could remove the cheese from a pizza and feed it to your dog. However, if the cheese is mixed with other pizza toppings or sauce, it is better not to share it with your canine companion.
What About Pizza Dough?
Raw pizza dough contains yeast, which ferments and causes the dough to rise. If eaten raw, the dough will continue to rise in a dog’s stomach and can cause the stomach to inflate, potentially cutting off blood supply to important organs. It can take up so much space inside a dog that it stops the chest from properly inflating and makes it difficult for the dog to breathe.
Similar to bread dough, fermenting yeast in the raw dough gives off alcohol. Dogs are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than humans and, if they eat raw dough, can suffer serious alcohol poisoning.
Stay Alert When Using Pizza Dough
If you’re making homemade pizza, be sure to keep your pup away from dough while it’s rising. It has to be left in a warm place, so people often use the airing cupboard or a drawer low-down in their oven. Be sure they cannot access your chosen place!
If you are concerned your pup may have eaten raw dough, you must urgently call your veterinarian.
Can I Make A Homemade Pizza For My Dog?
The ingredients in pizza vary. So, can dogs consume some pizzas but not others? In theory, yes, you could make a dog-friendly pizza, but in practice, this is not very realistic.
You could home-cook a pizza with only dog-friendly ingredients, a sugar-free, salt-free crust, no sauce, with plainly cooked meat and veggies on top, but is it worth it? Dogs don’t analyze food as we do and would not be more excited by food because it is shaped like a pizza.
A whole pizza would be far too much for a dog, so you would likely create waste. Your dog would be just as grateful for the plainly cooked veg or meat with no crust, which can be prepped and fed in suitable portion sizes. So, it may be possible to make a dog-friendly pizza, but it is unnecessary, and your dog won’t really appreciate it.
So, What Do I Do If My Dog Eats Pizza?
Raw pizza dough is dangerous and can cause severe illness very quickly. Call your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog may have eaten raw dough.
If your dog eats cooked pizza, it could cause vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. If a lot of pizza has been consumed, it’s sensible to call your veterinarian. Your pup might need treatment to induce vomiting so they don’t suffer any more ill effects or to help control symptoms such as stomach pain or diarrhea.
Rich foods, like pizza, can trigger a condition called pancreatitis, which can be serious. If your dog seems unwell after eating food they’re not used to or food not designed for canines, then please call your veterinarian.
A little nibble of pizza is very unlikely to cause your pup any immediate harm, so it’s tempting to think, “Oh, just this once.” Well, please think twice! The more times you give your pup an unhealthy treat, the more likely you are to cause harm.
Feeding unsuitable foods can lead to various diseases and may be shortening your dog’s life. All pet parents want their dogs to live forever, right? So don’t feed pizza to your pup. There are plenty of alternative foods that are safer and just as delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can dogs eat raw pizza dough?
No, raw dough is unsafe for dogs. The fermenting yeast can inflate the dough inside your dog’s stomach, causing serious side effects, and the alcohol it releases can cause toxic side effects. Both these effects can be life-threatening.
Can dogs eat pepperoni from pizza?
Pepperoni is not a good choice of meaty snack for a dog as it is processed, meaning it is not pure meat. It usually contains spices, salt, and nitrates. Spices can irritate a dog’s tummy, salt is not good in excess, and nitrates (when they are in meat-based food) have been linked to certain cancers.
Are mushrooms on pizza bad?
Mushrooms commonly eaten by humans and sold in superstores are not, in themselves, unsafe for dogs. As a pizza topping, however, they are probably mixed with oils, spices, and other unsafe ingredients. It’s best not to take the risk of feeding your dog mushrooms from pizza.
Can dogs eat pizza crusts?
It’s tempting to think our scraps are OK for our dogs, and pizza crust is sometimes leftover, but crusts should not be given to dogs. Crusts can be stuffed with sauces or artificial cheese, which could be bad for dogs. Even plain crust is likely to be fatty and salty.
Pizza is not a wise choice of food to share with your dog. Most pizzas contain multiple ingredients that are bad for dogs. Almost all pizzas, from the crust to the toppings, typically contain ingredients that are unsuitable for canine consumption. So, as a rule, it’s best to stick to healthier options when it comes to feeding your pup a snack.