Can Dogs Eat Tamales?

Sharing is caring!

Can dogs eat tamales? Tamales are an incredibly popular food and many dog owners wonder whether or not it is OK to give their beloved pets a taste of this delicious cuisine. The short answer is that tamales can potentially be fine for dogs, but the long answer is that it really depends on the ingredients and specific tamales in question.

a stack of tamales wrapped in corn husks on a plate

Dogs can eat some human foods, like papaya and pineapple. However, certain ingredients in people’s food are toxic to dogs. This potential toxicity applies to tamales as well.

Since tamales can be made with many different ingredients, there is no single answer to this question. If a tamale contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs, then they should not eat it; by contrast, some tamales are perfectly fine for dogs to eat.

If you plan on feeding your dogs tamales, you need to know exactly what the ingredients are.

What Are Tamales And How Are They Made?

Tamales are a traditional Mexican food that is made from corn dough and filling. The corn dough, called masa, is spread onto a softened corn husk; other ingredients are then added on top. 

Common fillings for tamales include steak, ground beef, chicken, and pork; as well as toppings like cheese, salsa, and peppers. Once all of the fillings are added, the corn husk is folded and cooked using a steaming method. When it is finished, the tamale is unwrapped, and the insides (not the corn husk) are eaten.

Ingredients in Tamales That Can Be Harmful to Dogs

The following are some of the most common tamale ingredients that you should watch out for that could be harmful to your pup:


Onions are severely toxic to dogs. All parts of the onion plant are toxic to dogs and should never be consumed. This vegetable contains a compound that breaks down red blood cells which can lead to canine anemia. 

Salt and Sodium 

Dogs are highly sensitive to salt, and salt toxicity is a serious concern. Tamales may be too rich in salt due to the fact that both the corn dough and fillings may have added salt. If the dough or masa is store-bought, make sure to check the label to see how much sodium is added. Homemade masa may have less salt, but if you plan on feeding your dog a tamale, make sure to note how much you’re using or make a batch without added salt just for your pet.

cut open onions and a garlic clove

Garlic Powder

Garlic is toxic to dogs, and unfortunately, garlic powder is a common ingredient in many tamale recipes. Garlic powder is often used for salsas, as well as to flavor the masa. Wag Walking says that Japanese dog breeds such as Akitas and Shiba Inus are more prone to have a garlic sensitivity but the reason is unknown. Like onions, garlic powder can hurt red blood cells and is known to sometimes cause digestive issues. 

Onion powder

Onion powder, like the plant itself, is toxic for dogs, which is common in salsas. The AKC reports that onion and garlic powder is actually more potent than the actual vegetable and should be avoided. 

You should also avoid letting your pup eat the corn or banana husk, as they can choke. The masa that is used is often processed with unhealthy ingredients such as trans fat and lard, which isn’t great for any diet in large quantities. 

If your dog already has systemic issues such as diabetes, you should avoid most human food and be cautious about their normal dog food as well. 

Spicy ingredients such as peppers, may also cause digestive upset and are somehow incorporated in most tamale recipes.

What To Do If Your Dogs Eats a Tamale

If your dog eats a tamale without supervision, you need to think quickly.

Was the tamale made with any ingredients that are harmful to your dog? If so, what ingredients? And how much of that ingredient was in the tamale?

Knowing this information will help you provide the right information to your dog’s veterinarian in case they need to be brought in for emergency medical care.

If your dog has consumed a tamale with a toxic ingredient, talk to your vet right away. The key to reducing the chances of severe injury or death in the case of your dog ingesting something toxic is to get them treated ASAP.

If the tamale does not contain any toxic ingredients, then your dog should be fine. However, if you are concerned, keep an eye out for symptoms that something may be wrong.

Symptoms To Look For

The following are some common symptoms that may occur in dogs who have ingested tamales made with toxic ingredients.

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Red-tinged urine
  • Fainting
  • Pale colored gums
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Dehydration

In particular, these are symptoms that your dog has ingested either onion or garlic (or is suffering from salt toxicity), which can cause severe complications and death. If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms after ingesting a tamale, then they need to get medical care right away.

Other Common FAQs

Let’s take a closer look at some other common questions that dog owners have regarding dogs and tamales.

Can dogs eat corn husks?

No. Dogs should never be allowed to eat corn husks. Corn husks present a serious choking hazard. The material of the corn husks can also cause blockages in your dog’s digestive system, which can cause severe complications and death.

Is it okay to feed them tamales from the can?

No. You should avoid feeding your dog tamales from a can, as these have excessively high sodium counts and are typically made with onion and garlic powders, which are toxic to dogs.

Can dogs have corn tamales?

Dogs can eat corn tamales, as long as they do not contain any ingredients that may harm them. Corn should be given to dogs in moderation, so keep this in mind when feeding your pup from the table.

My dog ate a corn husk, what should I do?

Corn husks aren’t actually toxic to canines, but they can cause an upset stomach. In worse-case scenarios, it stays in the intestine and has to be surgically removed. If your dog eats a tamale husk, contact your vet for personal advice.


Tamales are a tricky food when it comes to dogs. Tamales can potentially be a delicious treat that provides them with much-needed protein–or they can potentially be deadly if they contain certain ingredients.

The key to knowing whether or not your dog can eat a tamale is knowing exactly what it is in the tamale first. Tamales that you feed to your dog should be free from toxic ingredients and excessive salt. If you really want to give your dog a tamale, the best option is to make a batch that is specifically for your dog, without any added salt, onion, garlic powders, or other ingredients that could make them sick or severely ill.

Like any “people food,” tamales can be a fun treat for dogs, as long as you make sure that they are safe for your pet before you give them a delicious bite.

While most times it’s okay to let your canine indulge in some of the same foods you enjoy, remember they are more sensitive so some ingredients and you want to their about their daily caloric needs to reduce heart problems and obesity. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.