Reviewed by: Paula Simons, DVM
Dogs love food and they love when you feed it to them out of your hand.
The minute you break out some snacks (like salt and vinegar chips), you can expect your pooch to show up at your side. But should you feed your dog salt and vinegar chips?
Ultimately, they’re not a great snack for dogs, but in very small amounts probably won’t cause a concern. You tend to run into problems when the occasional chip treat becomes a regular occurrence or if your dog develops diarrhea from table food.
It’s not a great idea to get in the habit of feeding them salty snacks. Small amounts of pet-safe human snack foods usually don’t pose any immediate health risk, but you should discuss this with your veterinarian first.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Some dogs seem to be able to eat just about anything with no problems. Other dogs develop stomach pain or upset stomach almost immediately.
Ingredients in Salt and Vinegar Chips
In addition to the added salt and fat in your dog’s diet, salt and vinegar chips may contain other ingredients that could be harmful to dogs.
Some dogs can become quite sick after eating artificial additives (especially in large amounts). Gastrointestinal upset includes vomiting and diarrhea.
Salt and vinegar flavoring is a common ingredient in many crisps, but what’s in it? Is it going to harm your dog?
● Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
● Acetic acid (vinegar)
Note that not all salt and vinegar-flavored chips are made equally. Many of the available brands contain very few ingredients, but it is still unknown what they are.
There could be additives in there that can harm your dog. It’s best for dog owners to avoid vinegar and any salty snack that contain ingredients you aren’t familiar with.
Salt Vs. Vinegar:
Salt is sodium chloride (NaCl) and is one of the essential minerals for humans and animals alike. It is important to remember that excessive salty foods are harmful, causing vomiting, electrolyte imbalances, plus excessive thirst among other issues.
On the other hand, vinegar is claimed to be good for dogs because it helps digestion and even prevents or cures yeast infections. There is little evidence supporting this claim. Excessive vinegar can cause gastric acid build up or an upset stomach.
There are cases of dogs being more sensitive to vinegar than others, so always exercise caution when giving your dog treats containing white vinegar. Some dogs will also find vinegar very off putting and may decline the snack altogether.
Salt toxicity and salty snacks:
It is important to remember that salt toxicity does exist for dogs, albeit very rare. Sodium toxicity occurs when dogs eat large amounts of table salt (sodium chloride) or road salt.
Which vinegar is better for my dog?
Vinegar is usually made from dilute acetic acid. The type of vinegar you use for cooking is usually diluted with water, which reduces its strength and therefore lowers the risk of your dog ingesting too much acetic acid.
Malt vinegar also contains gluten, so if your dog has a gluten allergy or intolerance, then this would be best avoided as well.
How to Tell If Vinegar and Salt Chips Are Bad for My Dog?
As we mentioned earlier, the ingredients in vinegar and salt chips are harmless to humans but bad for the diet. The same is true for dogs. Of course, too much salt in a dog’s diet can lead to health problems and should not be given to dogs with cardiac, kidney, or gastrointestinal disease.
Pet parents should be aware of the ingredients in things like salt and vinegar chips which could vary by brand. There are many types of potato chips on the market and each kind has potentially harmful ingredients for your dog. Ingredients that are unsafe include onion and garlic powder.
Moderation is Key
Potato chips can be fed to some dogs in very small amounts. It’s not a good habit to get into, however. The added fat and salt can give your dog stomach problems. Potato chips (including salt and vinegar) are cooked in unhealthy oils. In addition, they tend to have a lot of added artificial ingredients.
Consider the following health risks to your dog when feeding snack food:
Dogs with pancreatitis are at particularly high risk. Avoid giving your dog anything with high levels of fat in them. The fat content in potato chips can cause digestive upset leading to diarrhea.
Digestive problems could include:
- stomach pain
The excessive sodium load of table foods can cause water retention in dogs. This is dangerous in dogs with heart disease as water retention can lead to congestive heart failure.
The added calories from things like potato chips can easily lead to obesity in dogs. Obesity, sadly, can leave a dog with serious health problems including:
- heart disease
- joint pain
Salt Toxicity Risk in Dogs
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, the average 33-pound adult dog should only have 200 mg of salt per day.
A very small (1 ounce) bag of chips has a whopping 170 mg of salt. Those small bags have about 50 chips. If your dog were to accidentally eat a full bag of chips, it is unlikely that he/she could develop symptoms of salt toxicity. If even larger volumes are ingested, this may be more concerning.
Signs of Salt Toxicity in Dogs
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of coordination
- Fluid accumulation in tissues and organs
- Swelling of the brain
The risk of salt toxicity (and the degree to which it occurs) may be related to the size of the dog and any underlying conditions or medications. Salt toxicity in dogs is a medical emergency that requires veterinarian attention. If you believe your dog has eaten a large number of chips for his/her size, be sure to offer lots of water. Watch for signs of toxicity, as mentioned above.
A Few Things to Do in Case Your Dog Eats Too Many Chips:
Suppose your dog eats too many chips—or any other salty treats for that matter! If you’re worried he might get gastrointestinal upset, then there are a few things you can do:
● Make sure to give them plenty of water to drink. Dogs need lots of water because all the salt they eat can cause dehydration. Check with your vet if the symptoms of dehydration will pass after a few hours or if you need to bring him in.
● Call your vet right away for help. The negative reactions from an excessive amount of vinegar and salt chips are digestive system issues causing vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, and nausea. If they have any of these symptoms, it’s best to call your vet.
Homemade Options as Substitutes for Vinegar and Salt Chips:
If you don’t want to give your dog chips, then there are a lot of other salty treats you can give them. Here are some options:
Some dogs will love chicken broth on its own, while others may have it with dry kibble. The broth must not be too salty to avoid stomach upsets.Low sodium without onion or garlic is a great option.
There is a reason why we give dogs salmon oil supplements —because it’s good for their skin and coat! Dogs will love the taste of raw or cooked salmon, but you may want to avoid giving them too much as it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can cause digestive upset if ingested in large amounts.
Canned green beans:
If you give your dog canned green beans, it’s like giving him some nutritious vegetables. You can also mix them with regular kibbles for added crunch and taste!
Chop up some carrots into small pieces, then give them to him for an extra crunchy treat. Carrots provide added vitamins and fiber for your dog
Vinegar and salt chips are human food, not dog food. It can cause problems to your dog if he eats too much of these junk food and salty treats—or any other kind of salty food, for that matter!
If your dog eats too much vinegar and salt chips, then there is a way to help him not get sick. Make sure that he drinks plenty of water and call your vet immediately.
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