Can Dogs Eat Tortillas? Everything You Must Know!

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can dogs eat tortillas

Dogs should not eat tortillas. Tortillas are not toxic to dogs in moderation, but we wouldn’t recommend them, since there aren’t really any health benefits and, in some cases, they could cause adverse effects.

So can dogs eat tortillas safely? Below you will find a table of contents with all the topics we covered in this article.

So Can Dogs Eat Tortillas Safely?

Traditionally, tortillas are not toxic to dogs. However, they come in many flavors and styles and each can have its own negative impact on a dog’s health. 

Feeding a dog tortillas on a regular basis could eventually lead to obesity, diabetes, heart problems, allergies, salt toxicity, and of course, digestion issues.

If you think your dog is obese, read our article about How Heavy Should My Dog Be? and find out whether or not your dog is overweight.

The main ingredients in a standard tortilla are flour or corn. We should not feed them either of these. 

Flour Tortillas 

First and foremost, flour comes from wheat, which is a common allergy amongst dogs. Therefore, knowing if your dog is hypersensitive to wheat or not is crucial. 

Second, tortillas bought from the grocery store are all highly processed. Tortillas alone are very high in carbs, which isn’t recommended for dogs.

Additionally, any processed foods include heavy oils, butters, and salts that your dog’s digestive system was not made to handle. 

Flour tortillas are usually used to make fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, and soft tacos. 

Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas come from whole wheat corn, which is also a common allergy for dogs! Allergies on a dog are generally present on their skin, fur, ears, nose, and face as a rash of some sort. 

These tortillas are also highly processed and contain additives that will not be kind to your dog’s tummy.  Furthermore, corn is high in carbs and fiber. A dog does not need extra carbs, especially as they get older.

In some circumstances, dogs need and benefit from extra fiber in their diet, however, corn tortillas are not the way to do so. In fact, an excess of fiber can cause constipation. 

Corn tortillas are usually used to make enchiladas, tacos, and tostadas.

Flour Tortilla (No!)Corn Tortilla (No!)
flour tortillacorn tortilla

Grain and Corn Allergy Symptoms 

Due to the fact that allergies are an extremely common (and often overlooked) issue amongst dogs, it’s best to list specific things to watch out for. 

What to expect if your pet has wheat, corn, and/ or gluten allergies:

  • Rashes on eyes, ear, or face Excessive eye watering and redness
  • Excessive itching Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) 
  • Hives Unable to get comfortable (panting or pacing)
  • Swollen eyes, paws, or face Vomiting or diarrhea 

Contact your local vet if your pet exhibits any of those signs after eating new foods. Allergies are common but they are also very manageable!  

The Real Issue Behind Processed Foods

On top of the butters, salts, sugars, fats, and oils that go into processed foods, there are ingredients added that are not meant for culinary preparation or even edible consumption. 

That refers to sweeteners, colors, emulsifiers, and other types of additives that are used in order to disguise unwanted results from their food product. 

In tortillas specifically, there are two types of damage that they want to control: molding and staling. To control the growth of mold, they can modify the storage temperature, PH level, and use of preservatives [1]. 

The staling dilemma involves amylose/ amylase and xylanase. They are used to mutate a corn tortilla so that it stays softer for longer. 

Through these enzymes and other injected additives, the shelf life can be vastly extended, however, alterations like that can have a lasting impact on the health of a human or animal. 

Are Grain Free Products Dangerous?

In case you were thinking of feeding your dog an alternative to flour or corn tortillas, such as grain-free (cauliflower tortillas, coconut, chickpea, etc.) here is why you should reconsider. 

In 2018, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started to investigate a link between grain-free diets and canine heart disease after receiving copious amounts of reports. 

The most common disease is called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), which some breeds are predisposed to. However, grain-free diets have been proven to affect breeds that wouldn’t typically get it as well [2].  

Another linked disease is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which actually occurs more often in cats than dogs. 

What is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a common heart disease that occurs in dogs. Essentially, as a dog ages, its heart muscles begin to weaken. This regression will then make it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood throughout the body, which can lead to congestive heart failure and even death.  

The symptoms of DCM can start subtly but quickly become overwhelming. This is a disease that can be treated and maintained with medications but can be highly fatal if left untreated.

Early Symptoms  These can be difficult to detect at first.
Exercise Intolerance The biggest indicator would be noticing that your dog is generally slowing down, especially regarding exercise.
If they get tired much quicker than normal and show excessive panting or even coughing when exercising. 
Arrhythmia or heart murmur detected It is standard procedure for a veterinarian to listen to a patient’s heart every time they come in for an appointment. They will listen and assess. 
Heart imbalances can be significant and they range in “grades” from one to six. One being the least serious, six being the most. Arrhythmias can cause spouts of weakness or even fainting. 
Progressing Symptoms 
Pulmonary congestionThis is an accumulation of fluid in the air sacs of the lungs. This makes it very difficult to breathe and can sometimes happen acutely.
It is an emergency whether it is acute or not and would demand immediate medical attention. 
EdemaEdema refers to an accumulation of fluid stuck in the body’s tissues. In this instance, it would form behind the left heart ventricle and/ or atrium [3]. This is extremely painful and puts a lot of pressure on the heart, lungs, and entire body. 
AscitesThis would be fluid forming in the abdomen (stomach). When there are cases of edema, congestion, and/ or effusions, then heart failure is happening. 
Pleural EffusionThis means that fluid is forming around the lungs. This will occur if the disease has spread to the right side of the heart. 
Advanced Symptoms [4]Heart failure by DCM commonly shows signs of left-sided congestive heart failure. 
Labored breathing (Dyspnea) Typically during advanced symptoms, one or all of the issues listed above are happening. With all that misplaced fluid and air, it can be incredibly hard to breathe. 
This could look like lowering their head, coughing, mouth wide open, pale to blue gums and/ or tongue.  
Reluctance to lie downWith everything going on, the dog would be extremely uncomfortable. Since it is their chest and abdomen area that is most affected, lying down would likely exacerbate the pain. 
“Wide stance” A tell-tale sign of congestive heart failure is this stance. A dog will be standing with its legs spread far apart, and its head will be lowered.
This is due to the weight and pain in their chest that they are feeling. 
Cough worsens The cough will progress and can be very faint as they get weaker or it can turn into a choking or hacking sound. 
Reduced appetite and activity They would be displaying extreme lethargy. They would be refusing to move, eat, drink, play, etc. 
Collapse/ Death All of this overloading on the body can cause sudden collapse, fainting spells, and even death. 

What Breeds Are Predisposed? 

Most often, the ones that fall victim to this disorder are male large to giant breed dogs in the middle to late stages of their life. This is due to the size of the dog and how hard their heart has to work to pump blood through their entire body.

Of course, there are smaller-sized breeds that are also predisposed to heart disease, including DCM. 

According to the FDA, these were the breeds that were most frequently reported for Dilated Cardiomyopathy in 2019 [5]: 

  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Boxer
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Great Dane
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Mastiff
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Pitbull

Other breeds that were reported in lesser qualities: 

  • Afghan Hound
  • Boston Terrier
  • Beagle
  • Irish Setter
  • Dalmatian
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Irish Soft Coat Wheaten Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • Maltese
  • Border Collie
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Samoyed

How To Look For Heart Disease 

Knowing the breed of a dog before you get one can be beneficial in preparing for its size, energy level, specific needs, and health predispositions. 

For example, if you knew you wanted to get a pug, you would assume that they will have breathing issues. If you have a giant-sized dog, you should assume that they’d have heart and joint problems. 

Living with heart disease is a serious and sometimes fatal occurrence. Our dogs can’t verbally tell us when they’re hurting so learning their body language and symptoms can help them and ourselves.

If you notice your pet displaying any or all of these symptoms, contact your local vet immediately: 

Symptoms of Heart Failure [6

  • Coughing or difficulty breathing 
  • Weakness and /or collapsing 
  • Sudden paralysis of the back legs
  • Swollen belly and /or wide stance 
  • Getting tired quickly/ panting 

How Is Grain Free Linked to Dilated Cardiomyopathy?  

So how does a grain-free diet correlate with heart disease? It’s in the ingredients.

When the main ingredients of dog food are:

This is when the heart issues start to occur. This diet lacks essential nutrients that a dog needs to maximize their health. This specifically causes the heart’s blood pumping ability to decrease while simultaneously causing the size of the heart to increase. 

Health tip: the FIRST ingredient listed on the nutrition label of your dog’s food should be protein. 

What’s A Healthy Source Of Carbs For My Dog? 

This can be tricky because dogs do not typically need supplemental carbohydrates in their diet. An excess can lead to obesity, joint problems, and diabetes. However, there are certainly better options than tortillas, such as:  

  • Oats 
    • Healthy carb (in moderation)
    • Fiber source
  • Sweet Potato 
    • Vitamin A
      • Aids in vision 
  • Brown Rice 
    • Healthy carb (in moderation)
  • Coconut
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Leaves coat shiny and strong 

What’s A Healthy Source Of Fiber For My Dog? 

Every dog does not need supplemental fiber in its diet either. However, it is a miracle worker for digestive issues. A dog or puppies with chronic indigestion could benefit from a daily fiber snack. 

It’s important to know that a little fiber goes a long way! It is easy to over-feed and cause constipation. 

  • Beet Pulp
    • Excellent fiber source
    • Sugar-free
  • Green Beans 
    • Vitamin A
    • Low Calorie
  • High-Fiber Treats Supplements
    • Can be used as a daily addendum if needed
  • Pumpkin 
    • Good for diarrhea and constipation
    • Vitamin A 
  • Flaxseed
    • Improves coat quality
    • Helps with Indigestion 
  • Carrots
    • Vitamin A
    • Aids in vision and gut health

What About Tortilla Chips? 

Tortilla chips might have worse connotations than the tortillas themselves. Similarly, they are processed, which includes large amounts of oils, butters, and salts which can cause a plethora of issues on their own. 

Furthermore, these types of chips are particularly salty, which can wreak havoc through their bodily systems. Not only are excessive amounts of salt likely to lead to gastritis and pancreatitis, but it is possible for dogs to endure salt poisoning

Salt toxicity, also known as hypernatremia, is possible in all species. The lethal salt intake dose for a dog is roughly 4g/kg [7]. This can cause a great deal of ulcers and hemorrhages and general dehydration. 

Though there is not an exact cure or treatment for this toxicity, an animal hospital will likely administer IV fluids and recommend continuous access to fresh water. 

Sodium excess can technically always be avoided because our pets should always have safe drinking water nearby. 

In addition to the extra-high levels of salt, tortilla chips come in all different flavors and additives, many of which are toxic to dogs, such as: 

Lime Lime or any citrus tastes are not delectable for your dog. It can also cause irritation, rashes, and indigestion.  
GarlicGarlic is directly toxic for dogs. The toxin in garlic is called thiosulfate that can cause hemolytic anemia, which is an immune disease. 
Milk It’s very possible for a dog to be lactose intolerant. Furthermore, dairy products, especially as heavy as milk, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. 
OnionLike garlic, onions are part of the allium family. It is toxic for dogs in any form. It can cause weakness, decreased appetite, pale gums, fainting, and red-colored urine [7]. 
Cheese Cheese is only safe for dogs in small quantities. Additionally, cheese flavoring is different from fresh cheese and can be harsh on their digestive tract. 
“Spicy” Flavors Spicy flavoring or food of any kind is not recommended for dogs. It’s too harsh on their gut wall and can even irritate their throat when swallowing. 

Are All Tortilla Styles Unsafe? 

Can dogs eat baked tortillas? No. There are still additives involved in baking. 
Can dogs eat fried tortillas? No. Fried is typically the most packed with salts, butters, fats, and oils. 
Can dogs eat fresh tortillas?No. A piece of a fresh tortilla most likely will not do any harm, but it won’t do any good either.  
Can dogs eat spinach tortillas?No. Even though spinach is great for dogs, tortillas and other ingredients outweigh the good.  
Can dogs eat whole-grain tortillas?No. Generally, dogs cannot digest most grains normally. 
Can dogs eat tortilla wraps?No. There is no telling what it is wrapped with but the likelihood of it being unsafe for dogs is high. 
Can dogs eat blue corn tortilla chips?No. Although blue corn tends to have a lower glycemic index than the original chip, it is still full of salt and oils. 
Can dogs eat tortilla shells? No. There are zero benefits of feeding this to your pet. 

The Bottom Line

If you gave your dog a completely plain tortilla, would it cause harm? Given the size of a whole one, it would probably cause some discomfort no matter how big or small your dog is. 

So can dogs eat tortillas safely? If they have a wheat or grain sensitivity, then a plain tortilla will definitely not feel good for them. If it is a grain-free alternative, please don’t give it to them! 

Tortillas don’t serve any nutritional benefit for our pups, so what’s the point in feeding it to them? 

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Author
Rachel Wood

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