Can Dogs Eat Nachos?

Are nachos toxic for dogs? ¹

Nachos are one of the great finger foods.

But boy, are they messy?!

That melted cheese can go anywhere, with the odd tortilla chip falling to the floor.

Which is great news for our four legged vacuum cleaners, our dogs.

But should our dogs be eating nachos?

That is what I want to find out in this article. 

What are nachos?

Nachos are a snack that have the origins in northern Mexico

The original snack only consisted of three ingredients: corn tortilla chips, melted cheese and pickled jalapeno peppers. 

They are thought to have been created in 1940 by a man named Ignacio Anaya. 

Piedras Negras is the city where nachos were created. 

This city is very close to the border with Texas and so it didn’t take. 

The word nachos first appeared in an American cookbook in 1950 and by 1960 they were being eaten in restaurants in Los Angeles. 

Can dogs have nachos?

Nachos, to me, are a borderline snack for dogs.

Fundamentally nachos are horrendously unhealthy for humans and dogs.

So, any right minded dog owner should not let their dog within a mile of a plate of nachos.

But most of us are a bit soft on this front. 

Also nachos do contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs at certain levels but these ingredients tend to be used in tiny amounts and dog safe amounts.

As long as your dog only has a bite or two. 

But that is easier said than done.

Nachos are one of the ultimate party foods, to be shared with a group of friends as you are watching a big game or film.

They are eaten alongside the odd beer or glass of wine, which can make our decision making when it comes to our dogs much harder!

What ingredients are in nachos?

As I mentioned a short time ago the original nachos only had three ingredients corn tortillas melted cheese and pickled jalapenos

But that was over 80 years ago, which for a dish as popular as nachos means that nowadays the number of ingredients that might be in a nacho it’s almost unlimited. 

And obviously I haven’t got space in this short article to discuss every possible ingredient. 

Instead I’m going to look at the three original ingredients and find out how dog friendly they are.

And then I will look at some of the most popular ingredients used in nachos  and discuss how dog friendly the ingredients in these are. 

For all of you purists out there, let’s start with the original three ingredients. 

First up, the chips.

Can dogs eat tortilla chips?

Tortilla chips are just a bit of corn which has been fried in some oil and then seasoned with some salt. 

None of these ingredients are toxic or poisonous for your dog. 

They shouldn’t really bother your dog but it does depend on how many chips they have to eat.

Obviously vegetable oil and salt would be classed as unhealthy ingredients for your dog to be snacking on but in moderate amounts they aren’t killer ingredients either.

Can dogs eat melted cheese?

Melted cheese is another ingredient which won’t benefit your dog but neither will it send them to their early grave.

Cheese is very high in fat, cholesterol and salt.

An added jeopardy is that because it’s melted it will smell even more attractive to your dog. 

Two down and one to go. 

How do dogs cope with jalapeño peppers? 

Can dogs eat pickled jalapenos?

There is quite a bit of debate within the dog world about whether dogs can taste hot food as in spicy food.

We all know that dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans.

But what is less well-known is that dogs have a much less sensitive sense of taste than humans.

The basic maths is that humans have roughly 9000 taste buds whereas dogs have about 1700 taste buds. 

Just like humans, dogs can taste sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavours.

And because it is a sense of sour and bitterness which enables humans to taste “spice” then logically speaking dogs can taste spice. 

But how intense that sense of taste is for a dog with far fewer taste buds remains much more of a mystery.

And as we all know jalapeno peppers come in a wide range of spiciness.

And so a combination of the heat of the pepper and your dog’s torrents of that heat will even mean that the peppers are spat out or that your dog is running for the water bowl.

Apart from the spice coming from the peppers, because they are pickled they would have absorbed a fair bit of salt and sugar, which we need to consider. 

Before I race on and start looking at other popular ingredients, I want to look at the basic nutrition in a nacho.

What’s the nutrition in a nacho?

I have created a chart to make this information easier to understand.

 A 100 g serving of a basic nachos from Taco Bell has the following nutrition:

Fat22 g
Cholesterol3 mg
Carbs35 g
Protein4.3 g
VitaminsB6, Vitamin E, Vitamin K
MineralsPhosphorus, Selenium

This is pretty standard stuff for a snack.

It is high in fat and carbohydrates.

And we know the very limited role that these two types of nutrients play in the diet of a healthy dog. 

On the plus side, a nacho could provide your dog with a limited vitamin and mineral boost.

Nachos contain large concentrations of vitamins B6, E and K and the minerals phosphorus and selenium.

But there are better ways for your dog to get these healthy nutrients than to snack or the odd nacho or three. 

Since there are no surprises in terms of the nutrition or lack of nutrition that a nacho might provide to your dog, it is time to move swiftly on. 

In the following sections I will look at popular ingredients that people commonly add into their nachos. 

Can dogs eat sour cream in a nacho?

Is sour cream toxic to dogs? No.

Is it healthy? Absolutely not.

This is a bit of a common theme in today’s article, don’t you think?!

Sour cream is high in calories and cholesterol and has little in the way of any added vitamins or minerals and this might be an ingredient to avoid when it comes to sharing with your dog.

Since sour cream has very little flavour, you might say that it is dog friendly because they have so few taste buds.

But that would be pushing it.

Our next ingredient is a definite “no, no” as far as your dog is concerned.

Can dogs eat guacamole in a nacho?

Are avocados fruits or vegetables? 

Well as far as our dogs are concerned it doesn’t really matter.

The main concern about avocados is that they contain a chemical which is toxic to dogs.

The chemical is called Persin and although most of it is concentrated in the leaves and the skin of an avocado, it is present in the flesh as well.

To nudge you still further, avocado contains lots of fat- about 15% is fat. 

And when you consider that sour cream contains about 19% fat, we can see how “fatty” avocados are.

Now, I understand that the fats in avocados are healthier than the fats in sour cream but too much of any fat in a dog’s diet is a bad thing. 

So the advice is, err on the side of safety and don’t include guacamole on any nachos that you want to share with your dog. 

Can dogs eat chilli con carne in a nacho?

Chilli con carne is one of the most popular meats that are added to nachos.

With this dish the danger to your dog comes from the seasonings that are in the dish.

The real danger to dogs are onions and garlic.

Now, if your dog has a bite of a nachos with a bit of chilli con carne there will be nothing to worry about.

However, if your dog scoffs a tray bake filled with nachos and chilli then it might be time to phone your vet. 

Can dogs eat tomato salsa in a nacho?

Tomatoes are often added to chilli con carne but they are also integral to a great salsa. 

My dogs don’t react well to eating tomatoes- even in quite small doses, tomatoes seem to turn their stomach a bit.

But ripe tomatoes are poisonous to dogs.

Ingredients that you need to be dog wary of are our old favourites- onions, spring onions and garlic.

And again, the amount that they exist in a mouthful of nacho will not be a cause for concern.

But if your dog eats more than a mouthful or if they eat a nacho that includes a salsa and a bit of chilli?

Do you see how these things can start to stack up?

Next- or all you chip fans out there who have a weakness for packet nachos that are made by companies such as Doritos.

How dog friendly are those?

Can dogs eat nachos cheese Doritos?

There is more than one product in this range (in fact there looked to be well over a dozen) but the main ingredients are corn, vegetable oil and salt. 

Salt is the biggest danger here but as I have looked at it in depth earlier on, I won’t repeat myself. 

Further down the list of ingredients our old friends onion and garlic appear which by now you are well aware. 

And the real threat comes not in your dog eating one or two of these chips from the bag but in sharing a whole bag with just themselves. 

Can I make dog friendly nachos?

The great news is that you can make dog friendly nachos but the bad news is that they will take quite a bit of hard work. 

It isn’t a simple matter of opening a few packets of tortillas and jars of salsa and melting some cheese over the top. 

It will have to be done from scratch at home. 

There is a cute video to watch that takes you step by step through one recipe. 

Instead of using corn tortillas you roast thin potato slices. 

The sauce is made from flour and almond milk with a bit of turmeric.

And cubed red peppers make up the mix.

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Herson Rodriguez on Unsplash

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!