Can Dogs Enjoy Tamales?
Our family has a tradition of indulging in tamales during the holidays, which brings back fond memories of our Mexican vacation. We all love them, and even our beloved dog Claude looks longingly at the tamales, begging for a taste.
But let’s talk about the safety of tamales for dogs, especially when it comes to the husk rather than the meat filling. I decided to do some research on this popular snack, exploring the potential risks of beef, canned, cheese, chicken, corn, and pork tamales as a meal for our canine companions.
Can Dogs Safely Eat Tamales?
While most tamale fillings and mixes should be safe for dogs, it’s not advisable to feed them these treats regularly. The corn masa used in tamale recipes often contains ingredients like cheese, salsa, and spices that can upset a dog’s stomach. Additionally, the husks can pose a choking hazard.
Tamales are not designed with dogs in mind, and they can make our furry friends sick. The risk is reduced if the filling is predominantly meat-based and free from cheeses, salsas, onions, garlic, and excessive seasoning.
If you’re making homemade tamales, it’s crucial to avoid using onions and garlic, as these ingredients are toxic to dogs and can cause serious illness. Additionally, many dogs have allergies to dairy products, making cheese an unfavorable addition to the mix.
Moreover, considering that tamales are a popular Mexican dish, it’s tempting to incorporate spicy flavors like jalapenos and peppers. Spicy food can be harmful to dogs, a topic I’ve discussed in detail in my guide on why dogs should avoid eating Takis.
Now, let’s delve into the issue of the corn husk…
Can Dogs Consume Tamale Husks?
When tamales are steamed in corn husks instead of being wrapped in a banana leaf, they can pose a greater hazard to your furry friend.
Naturally, it’s much better for your dog to consume the meat inside the tamales rather than the tough husk, and here’s why.
Although tamale corn husks are not toxic and won’t poison your dog, they are incredibly challenging to digest. Imagine having pieces of husk sitting in your stomach or digestive system—it doesn’t sound pleasant, does it?
The extent to which a tamale husk can harm your dog depends on various factors, such as how much husk they consumed, their size, and how well it was chewed.
If your dog has ingested a tamale husk, don’t be surprised if their body rejects it. I spoke to a dog owner on Facebook who shared that her dog vomited a tamale husk after they had visited a county fair without her even realizing the dog had picked it up from the ground!
If your dog doesn’t vomit the husk, they might experience digestive issues and gas. The husk could also cause a blockage if it is the right size, which can be quite dangerous. If you suspect a blockage, contact your vet immediately.
Watch out for the following signs that your dog might have a corn husk stuck inside them:
- Difficulty passing bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary attention promptly.
The Calorie Conundrum
While I’ve established that the primary ingredients in tamales are not inherently harmful to dogs, we need to examine the calorie implications, which can be quite interesting.
Consider the following:
- Dogs should consume only 25 calories per pound of their body weight daily.
- Treats should account for only 10% of a dog’s total daily food intake, adhering to the 90/10 rule.
Let’s take two popular dog breeds as examples: French Bulldogs and Labradors. By calculating their average weight, we can determine their respective daily calorie intake.
- An average French Bulldog weighs 25 pounds and therefore should consume no more than 625 calories per day.
- An average Labrador weighs 70 pounds and should consume no more than 1,750 calories daily.
Now, tamales come in various forms and recipes. The number of calories in tamales depends on factors like the recipe’s origin (homemade, store-bought, canned, or from a restaurant).
While I need to take a leap of faith here, I managed to find average calorie counts for some popular tamale flavors. I crunched the numbers to determine how consuming a typical tamale could impact a dog’s diet and daily calorie intake. Here’s what I found:
- Beef tamale (250 calories): Accounts for 40% of a French Bulldog’s daily intake and 14% of a Labrador’s daily intake.
- Canned tamale (230 calories): Accounts for 37% of a French Bulldog’s daily intake and 13% of a Labrador’s daily intake.
- Cheese tamale (270 calories): Accounts for 43% of a French Bulldog’s daily intake and 15% of a Labrador’s daily intake.
- Chicken tamale (210 calories): Accounts for 34% of a French Bulldog’s daily intake and 12% of a Labrador’s daily intake.
- Pork tamale (250 calories): Accounts for 40% of a French Bulldog’s daily intake and 14% of a Labrador’s daily intake.
While a large breed like a Labrador could consume a tamale and use up only 12-14% of their daily calories, it’s a significantly higher percentage for smaller breeds. For instance, if my French Bulldog, Claude, were to eat a pork tamale, it would already satisfy 40% of his daily caloric needs.
You might not think that 40% is a significant amount, but it’s worth noting that it exceeds the widely accepted 90/10 rule for doggy snacks, where snacks should only constitute 10% of your dog’s daily food intake.
Consider tamales more as an occasional treat rather than a nutritious or primary dog food source.
Just the Meat from Inside Tamales?
But what about your dog enjoying just the meat filling from tamales? Surely that’s alright?
To a certain extent, I agree. It’s definitely a lesser evil. However, it still depends on the recipe. If the tamale contains only meat without excessive seasoning or cheese, your dog will likely be fine with pork, chicken, beef, or even a bit of the corn masa.
Avoid feeding your dog canned tamales, as these typically contain high levels of salt and preservatives that aren’t beneficial for canine digestion.
My Puppy Ate a Tamale – What Should I Do?
If your puppy ate a tamale, keep a close eye on them. Puppies have delicate digestive systems, and anything unusual or rich in flavor is likely to induce vomiting and diarrhea.
Given their vulnerability to sickness, it’s always wise to consult with a vet if your puppy ingests something they shouldn’t.
Can Dogs Eat Hot Tamales Candy?
Since we’re discussing dogs consuming tamales, what about the candy version? You’d be surprised how many people allow their dogs to eat candy, even if it happens accidentally.
Having a young son and a quick and greedy dog at home, we often find dropped items on the floor, including candy. It’s not always avoidable.
So, can dogs eat Hot Tamales candy? Absolutely not! Hot Tamales candies contain sugars and other ingredients that can upset a dog’s stomach. The spicy taste could also cause irritation and discomfort in their throat and digestive system.
If your dog consumes Hot Tamales candy, I would be concerned and recommend contacting a vet. Even small amounts of refined sugar, when irregularly fed, can lead to dental problems, metabolic disruptions, and an increased risk of canine diabetes.
Take a look at the ingredients in Hot Tamales:
- Sugar, corn syrup, modified food starch, dextrin, medium-chain triglycerides, fruit juice from concentrate, sodium citrate, pectin, citric acid, malic acid, fumaric acid, confectioners glaze, carnauba wax, white mineral oil, artificial flavors, artificial color, sodium citrate, magnesium hydroxide, tartrazine.
The bottom line is that Hot Tamales candy is harmful to dogs and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even more serious health complications. So, please avoid letting your puppy or dog consume this candy.
To summarize, I don’t recommend feeding tamales to dogs with the husk still intact. A small amount of tamale meat is unlikely to harm them, as long as you go easy on the cheese, salt, seasoning, and spices—and make sure there are no onions or garlic.
Ask yourself why you want to feed your dog a tamale in the first place. Is it truly beneficial for them? Offering your dog an occasional treat is fine, but be cautious because dogs don’t always react well to rich foods.
Disclaimer: I am not a vet. The advice provided in this guide is based on my own common-sense approach and online research. Always consult with your own vet before introducing unfamiliar foods to your dog or if your dog consumes something they shouldn’t.
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