Pizza is one of the best foods ever invented. Its soul-warming deliciousness is one of a kind, and its crispiness and cheesiness only makes it more interesting. It is hands-down irresistible. Like, can you imagine a party without it? If you are quite obsessed with pizza, you know what I mean. I bet even your dog will go to extraordinary lengths just to have a slice of that oooey gooey cheesy thing.
But seriously speaking, can dogs really have pizza? You might have seen pictures of dogs drooling over it on the internet, so you must be thinking “why not?”, so let’s hear what the vets and food experts have to say. But first, let’s take a look at the common ingredients of pizza.
Pizza 101: What are your toppings?
There are a lot of versions of pizza. When I say a lot, I mean endless. The recipe differs from region to region. In fact, that’s another thing to love about pizza. It is so versatile, you can experiment and add whatever topping you like.
Of course, you know the basic ingredients of pizza. But let’s look at the list of the most popular toppings and see whether they are fine for dogs or not. Ready? Here they are:
Onions are toxic to dogs because of the N-propyl disulfide content. This compound may cause a breakdown of the red blood cells in dogs and could lead to anemia if untreated. The same compound can also be found in garlic.
Green peppers are safe for dogs, but too much of them can upset your pet’s stomach. Consuming green peppers can also lead to diarrhea in canines.
Black olives are generally safe, because they already are pit-free. Given that, there seems to be no problem in giving olives to a dog.
Cheese is safe, however, vets agree dogs should only be given low-fat cheeses such as cottage cheese and mozzarella. Other types of cheese, like cheddar, parmesan, and brie contain high amounts of fat. Some pizzas use more than one type of cheese.
Bacon is safe, but you should avoid as much as possible giving it to your dog. It is high in fat and salt and your pet’s stomach may not be able to handle it well.
Sausage is safe, although, just like bacon, has high salt content so it’s best you only give it to your dog in very small amounts.
Mushrooms are safe because the types of mushrooms used in pizza are not the wild type but usually store-bought and processed so you should not worry about giving them to your dog in moderation.
Pepperoni is safe, but it is not recommended for a canine’s consumption since it has an unhealthy amount of fat and salt. Also, pepperoni contains seasonings that may harm your puppy.
Can dogs eat pizza?
Yes, they can. But whether they should eat it is a different story. Veterinarian Destini Holloway claims that pizza might give your dog a mild gastrointestinal upset. This is true, especially if the dog is used to eating dry kibble. Should you be worried that it may poison dog? No, unless it contains too many onions.
Other than the onions, an excessive amount of cheese can also result in bouts of diarrhea. This is due to the fact that most canines cannot naturally produce the digestive enzyme called lactase. Although cheese is not really deadly for dogs, it is best to only give it to them in small amounts.
What if the dog ate a whole cheese pizza? If this is the case, expect him to have an upset stomach. An entire cheese pizza has a whopping 2,222 calories – twice the daily caloric requirement for dogs!
Once your pup starts showing signs that he is uncomfortable or he has already started vomiting, it is best to consult a vet. You should also look out for other warning signs such as lethargy or signs of pain.
In instances like this, some vets recommend withholding food for the next 12 hours in order to avoid your dog from being bloated. If your pet did not show any symptoms to be concerned about, continue his regular feeding after those 12 hours.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Pizza Crust?
Why is pizza unhealthy?
It’s not rocket science to understand why pizza is bad for our health. Just look at the toppings and you will get the answer. You can count in one hand the number of food chains offering purely organic ingredients for their pizza. Regardless of that, we tend to be a bit stubborn and enjoy it no matter what. Why is it bad and why do we keep buying it?
Giuseppe Russolillo, president of the Spanish Association of Nutritionists told BBC that pizza is more like a junk food than an artisanal product in the United States. It is on the top of the list of foods contributing to obesity. The frozen pizzas you see in supermarkets are the most unhealthy because they contain trans-fats.
Nonetheless, the truth is that pizza isn’t going to kill you in the long run unless you eat it every single day of your life. What makes this all-time favourite unhealthy is the kind of toppings used on it. Besides, when and how you eat it also determines whether pizza can be good or not. The dough isn’t really a big issue, but there is still a way to make it more wholesome for your dog. Supposing you are unaware why pizza is not good for you, here are the reasons why it is unhealthy for both you and your dog:
It is highly processed – just think of all the meats used for your typical pizza. There’s pepperoni, ham, bacon, sausage – all of these are loaded with fats and salt! Commercially produced meat may already contain additives that are toxic for canines. These include garlic powder, onion powder, and nutmeg.
It lacks quality lean protein – like us, dogs need quality lean protein in their diet. Since they are naturally carnivorous, they have to consume quality meat in order to survive. But because they cannot identify whether something is good for them or not, it is the responsibility of pet owners to offer their pups good quality meat.
It is a high caloric food. The caloric requirement for dogs is 30 calories for every pound of their body weight. Large dogs weighing more than 50 lbs may only need 20 calories for every pound. A slice of regular 14” pizza has as much as 285 calories and the number of calories increases depending on the type of pizza. A slice of pepperoni pizza has 309 calories, while a cheese-stuffed crust has 279 calories.
It contains saturated fat. Canines are not exempted from life-threatening diseases that affect us, people. When a dog has too much fat in his diet, he may develop pancreatitis or inflamed pancreas. Although these facilitative fats will not harm our doggies the same way they harms us, it is still best to avoid them, especially for dogs with obesity problems.
Dog-friendly pizza toppings
These pizza toppings are created for humans, but because they are more wholesome than the toppings used in takeout pizzas, they are also good for dogs, minus the guilt. One of these days, you may want to try making your own pizza at home and add these as toppings:
Chicken – real meat such as cooked chicken will give your pizza an authentic flavor. Add a bit of sliced meat on your dog’s pizza and he will surely love it. It is also an excellent source of lean protein that can benefit your pooch.
Sweet potato – a good substitute for meat toppings, potato is actually cholesterol-free and has very minimal fat. It has reasonable amounts of sodium and it is a rich source of potassium and vitamin A.
Fennel – caramelized fennel is sometimes used as a topping for a pizza. Fennel is not only safe for canines, it is also healthy for them. It is a great source of vitamin C and dietary fiber, and also contains potassium and folate that are essential for growing dogs.
Mozzarella cheese – the most often used cheese for pizza, mozzarella is actually the best to use because it creates a perfect color and taste after being baked. Let’s add the fact that it only has 17 grams of total fat for every 100-gram serving.
Egg – fried or poached, you can actually experiment a bit and add an egg on your pizza. Eggs are good for dogs, too. They are a great source of protein for our pets and also contain essential amino acids and fatty acids that can benefit our dogs.
Sundried tomatoes – a little bit of tomato will not harm your pet. Just add some of it on his pizza to give it a classic taste.
Spinach – regardless of claims that spinach can contribute to kidney stones in canines, many vets still agree that it would take a lot of it for that to happen. So why not put a bit of it on your dog’s meal? It will give the pizza a refreshing taste.
Peaches – there are pizza recipes using peaches for topping. Peach is a healthy treat for canines. Simply cut some small-sized peach pieces and put them on your puppy’s portion.
Tofu – a popular alternative to meat, tofu deserves the spot as one of the best vegan foods. Basically, it feels like you are eating sponge but you will love that it is a nice source of protein as well as amino acids.
Beef – many pizza recipes use lean ground beef that is a great source of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It is one of the popular meat sources for dog food. As long as the beef was thoroughly cooked before you put it on top your pup’s pizza, it is going to be safe for puppy.
Just a tip, you may want to add a bit of shredded cheese to hold it all together. A little amount of dairy will not harm your dog, especially if it is just mozzarella. Without the preservatives and highly-processed ingredients, you can create a pizza with less fat content. If you have the time for it, you can also make a healthier version of pizza crust.
Besides the crust and the toppings, you can also modify your sauce and use ingredients other than tomato sauce. Why don’t you try carrot puree? Carrots are among the best human foods dogs can safely consume. Your dog can benefit from the vitamin A, high fiber, and low caloric content of carrots. The bonus part is that it also good for their teeth!
If you are not in the mood to experiment, you can make your pizza healthy by adding fruits and veggies as toppings. You may use kale, broccoli, asparagus, butternut, and beets. For fruits, you may add blueberries, strawberries, and apples for a sweet-tasting pizza.
Pizzas and dogs are not a friendly combination. Their stomach cannot process foods the way ours do. Store-bought pizza can especially harm dogs as it may also be toxic to them because of the ingredients it contains.
This is due to the processed meats and extra cheese used as toppings. Store-bought pizza may contain ingredients like pepper, onion, and garlic that can be toxic to canines. But if you can’t help it and really want to offer puppy a slice or two, you’d better make your own pizza at home.
There are a lot of ways to make pizza a healthy treat for dogs. Instead of the typical flour, you can use quinoa flour that is known for its high fiber and protein content. When it comes to the toppings, it is best to skip the highly processed meats such as pepperoni, bacon, and sausage as they contain nitrates that can cause cancers. For the cheese, you may opt for the low-fat types instead of the ones that have very high amounts of fat.
Homemade pizza, no matter how wholesome it is, should not be offered to dogs regularly. Canines should get their protein and carbs from a variety of healthy food choices. Dogs need a varied diet with lots of quality meat, vegetables, and fruit.