Does your dog have a taste for Mexican food? Wondering if you can share a tortilla with your dog? Spicy foods are not a good idea for your dog but plain tortillas – corn or flour – are not toxic to dogs. Keep reading for more information about whether dogs can eat plain tortillas.
Plain, basic tortillas are a thin flatbread made with unleavened, water-based corn or wheat dough. They were originally made from maize hominy meal in Mesoamerica 1500-500 BC. After Europeans brought wheat to the Americas, flour tortillas also became common. Today both corn and flour tortillas are popular. Wheat flour tortillas usually contain fats such as oil or lard, salt, and may contain baking powder. Otherwise the two kinds of tortillas are prepared and cooked very similarly.
Looking at the nutritional information for one corn tortilla (24 grams) ready to be cooked, it is made up of 82 percent carbohydrates, 11 percent fats, and 7 percent protein. It scores a low 5 on the glycemic index.
A corn tortilla is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus. It’s also low in saturated fat and sodium and very low in cholesterol.
One corn tortilla has 52.3 calories, 10.7 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of fiber, 0.7 grams of fat, and 1.4 grams of protein. It has only small amounts of most vitamins and minerals though is has slightly more phosphorus.
One medium wheat flour tortilla (about 6” in diameter, 30 grams) ready to be cooked, is made up of 67 percent carbohydrates, 22 percent fats, and 11 percent protein. It has an estimated glycemic load of 9.
Wheat flour tortillas are a good source of thiamin. They are also very low in cholesterol.
One wheat flour tortilla has 93.6 calories – so there is quite a difference compared to a similar corn tortilla. It has 15.4 grams of carbs, 0.9 grams of fiber, 2.3 grams of fat, and 2.5 grams of protein. The flour tortilla provides more carbs and fat as well as much more protein. It has less fiber than the corn tortilla.
The flour tortilla is also low in most vitamins and minerals but it does have modest amounts of thiamin, folate, iron, sodium, and selenium.
Both corn and flour tortillas have some health benefits. Corn tortillas are considered to be a whole grain. They are lower in carbs, calories, and fat than flour tortillas. Flour tortillas provide some iron that is missing from corn tortillas.
If you can choose only one kind of tortilla, corn tortillas are usually considered to be healthier but each one has its good points.
If you are one of the people with a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity, corn tortillas are a good choice since they are gluten-free. You can also find tortillas made from other non-gluten grains. Gluten-free grains and flours other than corn include amaranth, buckwheat, rice, potato, millet, quinoa, sorghum, tapioca, oats, and more.
Even if you are buying corn tortillas, make sure to read the ingredient list if you have problems with wheat or glutens. Sometimes the ingredients will include a mix of corn and wheat flour.
Should You Give Your Dog Tortillas
It seems that any time the subject of bread and dogs comes up, people lose their minds. There are some articles online that give dire warnings about letting dogs eat tortillas.
The truth is that a small amount of tortilla – corn or flour – shared with your dog occasionally is not going to harm him unless he has an allergy to corn, wheat, or another ingredient used to make the tortilla.
Corn tortillas are traditionally made using a process called nixtamalization. This process involves cooking maize (the original corn) in an alkaline solution of calcium hydroxide or limewater. This is not a bad thing. It enhances the nutritional profile of the corn and it was used by the Aztecs and Mayans. Today this process has been adapted for bigger, industrial operations and dry and fresh masa flours are used. Nothing about nixtamalization is bad for the corn or tortillas and it won’t hurt your dog.
So, while we don’t recommend that you let your dog stuff himself on tortillas (corn or flour), a small amount won’t hurt your dog as long as he is not allergic to any of the ingredients. Always check the ingredients to make sure the food doesn’t contain anything that might be harmful to your dog.
If your dog is older, has a pre-existing health problem, is diabetic, or obese, it’s best to avoid tortillas because of their carbohydrates. Otherwise, most dogs should be able to enjoy them in moderation.
What about Tortilla Chips?
Tortilla chips are salty, tasty, and many kinds are fried. They are about one step away from corn chips and Doritos. It’s best that you don’t allow your dog to eat tortilla chips. Okay, maybe your dog can have a few small tortilla chips without any salsa, pico de gallo, or cheese dip, but that’s all!
The biggest problem with tortilla chips is the salt. Your dog would probably have to eat a lot of tortilla chips to become sick but dogs can get salt poisoning if they eat too much salty food.
Fried foods aren’t good for your dog either so if your dog is overweight or has pre-existing health problems, tortilla chips should really be avoided. Baked tortilla chips are better if you really want to share them with your dog.
It probably seems like you’re being overly strict if you limit your dog to one or two tortilla chips but just 10 tortilla chips have 125 calories. That can be a lot of calories for a small dog that might need only 300-400 calories per day.
How Many Tortillas Can You Give Your Dog?
Baked corn and flour tortillas are relatively low in calories. A corn tortilla has about 52 calories while a medium-sized flour tortilla has about 93 calories. If you have a medium-sized dog, you could allow him to have either one.
It’s best to break up or tear the tortilla and dole it out to your dog in small pieces so he won’t wolf it down all at once.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Tortillas?
You could let your dog enjoy a plain tortilla once or twice per week as long as he has no ill effects from eating them.
Plain tortillas are not harmful to dogs, whether they are made from corn or wheat flour. You only need to make sure that your dog is not allergic to corn, wheat, or other ingredients used. If your dog is gluten-sensitive, avoid wheat flour tortillas. Tortillas can be made from many different kinds of non-gluten flours if your dog has difficulty with corn or wheat. Many dogs enjoy plain tortillas occasionally in moderation. However, it’s best for your dog to avoid tortilla chips because of the salt and calories.