can dogs eat tamales?

Can Dogs Eat Tamales? Are Tamales Bad For Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Tamales? Are Tamales Bad For Dogs?

Tamales are a popular Mexican food. The majority of tamales contain a mix of cheese, salsa, and cornmeal. If you own a dog, you're well aware of how rapidly dogs can eat food that has fallen on the ground. You may have dropped a tamale on the floor and your dog gobbled it up quickly and now you are wondering if you dog will be ok.

On the other hand, you may be wondering if it is safe to give your dog to eat tamales because you want to give your furry friend a treat. So, can dogs eat tamales? In short, it is best to avoid giving your dog tamales as a treat. They commonly contain many ingredients that can upset your dogs stomach or be toxic.

If you do decide to give your dog a tamale, make sure it is free of garlic and onion - and never give your dog the corn husk. We'll cover common tamale ingredients, how they affect your dog, and what the best course of action is to take if your dog eats a tamale or two.

cooked tamales ready to eat

What Are Tamales?

Tamales are a classic Latin American dish that's popular in Mexican homes. The dish's origins can be traced back to between 5000 and 8000 BC. The term "tamale" usually refers to a cornmeal-based food wrapped in a corn husk. Tamales are made with masa, a corn dough that has been enhanced with lard and churned to incorporate air. The masa is spread out over a moistened corn husk. The meat filling is then added to the top.

The meat is usually chicken, beef, steak, or pork. Cheese, poblano, and salsa are typically combined with the meat. The masa is wrapped around the filling, enclosing it. After that, the corn husks are firmly rolled, knotted shut, and steamed.

The filling varies considerably based on the region and each family's traditional recipes. Seasonings can be added, and sweet tamales can be made. A masa shell is required for each tamale, which is then wrapped in a corn husk. Baking powder is used in many current tamale recipes to help the dough rise.

Tamale Ingredients

While some tamales are safe for dogs to eat, there are some aspects of this food that can be harmful to your furry friend:


Because salt is generally added to both the meat fillings and the masa, tamales have a high sodium content. Too much salt in your dog's diet can create a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Excess salt can induce salt toxicity in dogs, a potentially fatal health issue.

dog eating from a bowl


Tamales are only safe for your dog if they don't contain onion, garlic, salsas, or other ingredients in the filling. Spices can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and vomiting in dogs. Onion and garlic spices are toxic to dogs and should never be given to your dog.

Saturated Fats

Traditional masa for tamales is made with a lot of lard, which is simply rendered fats. These fats can raise your dog's bad cholesterol levels, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and cause inflammation.


Tamales contain around 300 calories, depending on the ingredients used. To maintain a healthy weight, most dogs require about 25-30 calories per pound. Allowing your dog to eat tamales could result in obesity and weight issues.

Corn Husks

If your dog ate a large piece of corn husk, he may experience symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. While corn husk is not poisonous to dogs, ingesting a large piece can cause choking or an intestinal blockage. These symptoms may go away without surgery or medical intervention. However, you should always contact your veterinarian for assistance.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate a Tamale?

This is determined by your dog's size, amount of tamale consumed, ingredients used, and their overall health. The best thing you can do is keep a close eye on your dog for a few hours after they've eaten a tamale. If your dog ate a tamale that contained any garlic or onion, bring your dog to the vet immediately as these ingredients are toxic to dogs.

Common signs and symptoms of digestive distress in your dog after eating a tamale include:
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Excessive Urination

Most often, these symptoms will pass without further harm to your dog. In any case, your best bet is to take your dog to the veterinarian so a professional can perform a complete checkup on your furry friend to make sure that they are ok.

half eaten tamale

Review: Can Dogs Eat Tamales?

Tamales are safe for dogs to consume provided they are cooked with plain meat, have no extra flavorings, and are served without cornhusk. With that being said, you should only give your dog a small bite. Never give your dog any food that contains any amount of garlic or onion, as these ingredients are toxic to dogs.

Be cautious if you decide to share some tamales with them because some tamales are heavy in sodium, lipids, and calories, and the husks can pose a choking hazard to your dog. The only tamales that your dog can eat without you worrying about his health are ones that you've taken the time to make at home because you have complete control over the ingredients.

If your dog does eat a tamale and is experiencing a negative reaction, bring your dog to the veterinarian immediately for further care.

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