Can dogs eat pizza crust? Is feeding pizza safe for our dogs? How can something that tastes so good possibly harm our pets? Find out more about pizza, and the potential effect on dogs of this beloved human food in this article.
So Can Dogs Eat Pizza Crust?
Yes, dogs can eat pizza crusts. But should they, is a whole different story. If your pet dog eats pizza crusts once in a while, it won’t necessarily put your pet dog in serious harm as long as it is just the crust sans the pizza toppings. It is after all just a piece of bread. However, pizza crust is not considered healthy food for your dog.
Some very sensitive dogs have developed allergies to certain grains such as wheat or corn, which are often used in commercial dog food products. These dogs should not be given pizza crusts as it may trigger an allergic reaction.
What Goes Into a Pizza Crust?
Grains: Wheat, Semolina, Etc.
Most pizzas/ pizza crusts are made with wheat flour. Whether made with refined flour or whole wheat flour, both come from wheat that contains gluten. Semolina flour is another high-gluten type of flour used in some pizza crusts. It is made from durum wheat.
While gluten intolerance or allergy is not that common in dogs, there are cases where dogs have developed an intolerance for it. In such cases, it affects the dogs’ skin or digestion.
If your pet dog is not sensitive to gluten then having some wheat in their food won’t necessarily be an issue. The dog should be fine with a piece of pizza crust or bread from time to time.
However, such wheat or bread products don’t have much nutritional value, and therefore do not give your dogs any health or nutritional benefits. It is more like a filler food that is a source of carbohydrates and some fiber.
Giving your dog pizza crusts is probably not a good occasional treat if he or she needs weight management. This is due to pizza having a high carb content. These empty calories just contribute to weight gain and offer no real benefit to a dog’s health.
Fats and oils are commonly used in pizza crust, bread, and other baked goods. They could be animal fats such as lard or butter, or plant-based ones such as olive oil, vegetable oil, or shortening.
Fats and oils improve the texture and flavor of baked goods. They also help enhance the volume of the pizza crust dough and even have an effect on the penetration of moisture from pizza sauce and toppings.
The edges of a cooked pizza crust also have additional fats from the toppings. The pizza sauce, cheese, and meat toppings are typically high in fat. While fatty foods don’t normally harm dogs, the case may be different if you feed pizza to dogs with sensitive stomachs. A piece of pizza crust may lead to a gassy tummy or loose stools.
Dogs who require a low-fat diet, such as those suffering from pancreatitis should not be given pizzas or pizza crust. Any food with a high fat content can worsen the inflammation of the pancreas.
Pizza dough is typically made with yeast or some sort of raising agent such as baking powder. Once cooked completely, pizza crust or bread itself doesn’t particularly pose any serious threat to a dog’s health. However, the same cannot be said about raw dough.
Yeast is the ingredient that makes raw pizza dough unsafe for dogs. Any raw yeasted dough is very dangerous to dogs as it can expand in their stomachs. This can cause them to have difficulty breathing as well as tearing in their tissues.
Ingesting raw dough can also cause alcohol poisoning in dogs. The yeast in the pizza dough could ferment inside the dog’s stomach causing it to produce alcohol. Alcohol can lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and the dog’s body temperature to dangerous levels. According to Pet Poison Helpline, severely intoxicated pets can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
The Pet Poison Helpline also lists the following symptoms to look out for if a dog owner suspects that their dog ate pizza dough that has not been cooked. Seek veterinary advice right away as alcohol poisoning and bloat caused by raw dough can be life-threatening.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs
- Abdominal distention/bloat
- Unproductive retching
Onion and Garlic Powder
Onions and garlic are some of the most commonly used aromatics in the culinary world, and pizzas are no exception. They are used to flavor the pizza sauces and are often added as toppings as well. However, these flavorful pizza ingredients can be dangerous for our dogs if eaten raw, cooked, or even in powder forms.
You can find pre-seasoned pizza crusts in flavors like herb and garlic, Italian herbs, or spinach. These pre-made pizza crusts are flavored with salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. They almost always include garlic or onion powder.
Feeding dogs food with a large amount of garlic and onions can cause Heinz body formation, anemia, and poisoning. According to MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets, Heinz body formation in red blood cells is caused by oxidative damage and results in severe hemolytic anemia in dogs. Gastrointestinal upset can also be caused by the ingestion of garlic.
Here are some signs to look out for if you suspect that your dog has eaten food that contains a large helping of onions or garlic:
- Pale gums
- Increased heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
- Exercise (intolerance, collapse)
- Upset stomach
- Stomach pain
Preservatives, Acidity Regulators, Stabilizers, etc.
Pre-made pizza crusts that are commercially available are usually made with more additives to help maintain quality and prolong shelf life. They contain preservatives, acidity regulators, stabilizers, salt, vegetable gum, raising agents, and many others.
These ingredients serve different purposes – from protecting the food from harmful bacteria to achieving a certain texture and flavor. Baked goods and other bread products such as pizza crust could easily grow mold and other bacteria when exposed to certain temperatures.
The preservatives and other additives prevent harmful pathogens from forming inside the sealed packaging for up to several days without the need for refrigeration.
Salt, Artificial Flavors, Colors, and Spices
Pizzas wouldn't taste as great as they do if not for seasonings like salt, spices, and herbs that are added to the crust, tomato sauce, and pizza toppings. While we can enjoy heavily seasoned human foods regularly, our dogs are built quite differently. Letting a dog eat pizza or other salty foods often can cause health issues such as kidney, liver, and urinary tract issues.
Dogs can get salt poisoning from too much sodium or salt. According to Dr. Larry J. Thompson of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, sodium poisoning can result in vomiting within several hours of ingestion of excessive amounts of salt. The clinical signs can progress to weakness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and seizures.
Spicy foods are bad for dogs, and it is quite common for people to drizzle hot sauce or sprinkle some chili flakes onto their pizza. Hot and spicy foods made with spicy peppers are bad for dogs as they can cause damage to your dog’s digestive system. They can cause abdominal pain, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs.
Popular pizza toppings such as sausages and pepperoni are packed with sodium, pepper, and a heap of spices and herbs. If your pup was able to eat a fairly large helping of such processed meat products, we recommend contacting your vet or observing your pup for any changes in their behavior.
We have listed below symptoms to look out for if you suspect salt poisoning.
Symptoms of Salt or Sodium Poisoning
- Decreased appetite
- Increased thirst or urination
Can Dogs Eat Pizza Rolls?
Are other forms of pizza bad for dogs? A piece of pizza roll or a slice of pizza is not likely to harm a dog, provided that it is free from chopped green pepper, garlic, onions, or other spicy toppings. However, feeding your dog pizza or pizza rolls on a regular basis could be detrimental to their health.
Regular consumption of foods that are heavy on salt, spices, and preservatives can put a strain on the dog’s kidneys, organs, urinary tract, and digestive system. Not to mention, feeding on high-carb foods like pizza rolls, pizza crusts, and other bread products could lead to weight gain or obesity.
Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni Pizza?
A slice of pepperoni pizza once in a blue moon is not likely to harm your dog. However, that depends on other toppings or ingredients that may be present in the pizza as well. A pizza with toppings such as garlic, onions, or anything hot and spicy can be bad for dogs even in small amounts.
If your dog ate a slice of pepperoni pizza with just hot pepperoni slices as toppings, it can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Healthier Treat Alternatives to Pizza/ Pizza Crusts
While we all love pizza and find it hard not to give in to a dog’s begging, you’ll be glad to know that there are lots of treat options for our canine friends that are just as tasty but much healthier for them. To be fair, many of them might be even tastier for most dogs compared to pizza leftovers.
Pizza or Cheese Flavored Dog Treats
Canine cheese lovers are very fortunate as there are hundreds of cheese-flavored dog treats on the market. And if your pooch is pizza-obsessed, you can easily find pizza-flavored ones as well.
Cheese or pizza-flavored dog treats come in a variety of forms. You can buy meaty strips, crunchy biscuits, soft treats, or chewy treats. As they are made specifically for dogs, most of these treats are lactose-free unlike cheesy pizzas made for humans. Furthermore, these dog treats are not as greasy as pizzas.
Dog Pepperoni or Pepperoni-Style Dog Treats
Pepperoni is one of the most popular pizza toppings. It is also one of the most flavor-packed processed meat products. If your pup is a pepperoni fan, there are lots of dog treats that mimic the texture or meaty flavors of traditional pepperoni without being overloaded with salt, flavorings, and spices.
Some dog pepperonis may include seasonings and other flavoring agents. However, they are significantly less than the amount of seasonings that go into real pepperoni. It is perfectly safe to feed pepperoni pet treats to your dog.
Because dog treats are usually higher in fat for more flavor compared to dog food, they should not be served to dogs in large portions. A dog’s diet should always include complete and balanced dog food as regular meals.
Air-dried/ Freeze-dried Treats
Most dogs are huge fans of meat. And as pizza is commonly topped with flavorful meaty delights, it’s pretty understandable why our dogs want to partake in our pizza parties.
There are loads of meaty dog treats available on the market, but some of the highest quality ones are those that are freeze-dried or air-dried. Typically made raw, these minimally processed treats or dog food have a high animal protein content.
This makes them not just protein-packed but also rich in essential fatty acids and other nutrients that give health benefits to dogs.
Many raw freeze-dried or air-dried dog foods are so meaty and tasty for dogs that they can also be given as treats or meal toppers. They are the perfect treat for pet parents or dog lovers who just can resist their dogs’ begging. These dog foods/ treats can be given in meal-sized portions.
Jerky is another popular type of dog treat that is packed meaty in both flavor and texture. Traditionally made to be chewy, jerky treats now come in a variety of textures, flavors, and sizes.
Depending on the ingredients and the way they are processed, you can get jerky treats that are thick and chewy. These types of jerky treats keep dogs preoccupied for a few minutes. There are also thinner ones that are much easier to chew, making them ideal for older dogs or puppies.
Jerky treats come in flavors such as beef, lamb, chicken, fish, and other protein sources. Organ meats like beef liver, kidney, etc, make for richer tasting dog treats. Limited-ingredient or single-ingredient jerky treats are also widely available for dogs who have food intolerances.
A healthy dog won’t be harmed by a small slice of cheese pizza every once in a while. Or maybe a few pieces of leftover pizza crusts. However, there are a plethora of healthier snacks that we can give to our dogs. Not to mention, quite tasty for them as well.
To help us keep our pets happy and healthy so that we can spend more time with them, as pet parents, we need to be selective when it comes to the food that we feed our dogs. Foods rich in nutrients help dogs to be healthy and active for many years. Proper nutrition keeps diseases and other health problems at bay.
Unhealthy snacks for dogs such as leftover crusts contain empty calories that provide minimal nutrition. In addition, heavily seasoned foods can overwork dogs’ kidneys and other organs. This can lead to irreversible damage to their organs that can severely affect their quality of life.
If you are making homemade pizza, there is no harm in making a small one just for your dog. Making homemade pizza gives you control over what goes into your dog’s snack.
For your pup’s home-cooked pizza, you can use unseasoned plain tomato sauce, some cheese, unseasoned meat, and veggies like green beans as toppings for the dog pizza. Too much cheese can make your pet’s stomach upset. You can even add a few pieces of pineapple for a dog-friendly Hawaiian pizza.
So before giving in to those puppy dog eyes, they give you as you open a box of pizza, consider giving something else that is of better nutritional value to your pup.
Rewards don’t always need to be food. You can also reward your pup with a pat on the head, a snuggle, or some extended playtime. All of these are considered special treats by dogs.