Let me get one thing clear before you read this whole guide; I do not recommend that you let your dog have Taco Bell. You don’t need to be a veterinary expert to realize that fast food is never a great option for a dog’s diet.
However, as a dog owner I totally get why sometimes you will need to know whether dogs can eat Taco Bell. They might have chomped some down by accident or you might be on the road travelling and Taco Bell meat is your only option for feeding your four-legged friend.
To help you out I decided to look at the calorie consequences of the Taco Bell menu for dogs, how dog friendly Taco Bell food is, plus see what ingredients are potentially toxic to your pooch. Here’s the short answer to start with.
Can my dog eat tacos or Taco Bell meat? I do not recommend you let your dog eat tacos. This Mexican food typically contains certain ingredients that are toxic to dogs such as onions. Tacos can also be bad for dogs as they contain cream which can upset dog’s stomachs, plus spicy jalapeño peppers.
The bottom line is; a homemade taco or one you buy at Taco Bell is more likely than not going to give your dog a bad case of the runs, possible vomiting, and the chance of making them feel quite ill.
Can dogs eat Taco Bell meat?
But what about if about you just let your dog eat the Taco Bell meat? You might think that would okay given you’re removing the other ingredients, but let’s take a closer look.
According to press reports, Taco Bell meat contains 88% beef. As far as fast food standards go, that’s a pretty good meat ratio. The remaining 12% of the Taco Bell meat is onion powder, sea salt, chili pepper, tomato powder, and garlic powder.
That may sound reasonable, and you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s okay to just feed your dog the meat part from a Taco Bell, but not so fast. There are some ingredients in that 12% that don’t work too well on a dog’s digestive system.
- Onion powder: Onion is one of those rare ingredients that is toxic to dogs. Whilst your dog would need to eat a lot of it, there’s still enough in Taco Bell meat to possibly make your dog ill.
- Garlic powder: Like onion, garlic is also part of the allium family and can have the same consequences for dogs. Garlic poisoning occurs when dogs ingest these ingredients and can suffer anaemia.
- Chili pepper: Spicy foods can also be toxic for dogs, leading to issues such as stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. It’s not fair to let them eat chili in any form.
- Sea salt: Too much salt in a dog’s diet can make them thirsty and possibly even suffer with sodium ion poisoning. Just like with humans, excessive salt intake should be avoided.
Based on what I’ve found, dog should not eat Taco Bell meat as it has supplementary ingredients in it that means it’s not 100% beef and could upset your dog’s inner workings.
Admittedly though, your dog would need to eat a lot of taco meat to suffer with anything life threatening as these ingredients are a low percentage. But if you love and care about your dog, it’s not worth giving them an upset stomach with a Taco Bell meal.
Can dogs eat tacos that are homemade?
Of course, if you were to only serve 100% beef in your taco with no fillings, sour cream, onions, guacamole, tomato salsa, jalapeño peppers or tortilla shells, then yes, maybe your dog can eat tacos you’ve made yourself.
But you’re not really going to be left with a taco! It’s just going to be some 100% beef, some lettuce, and some plain rice that hasn’t been seasoned and a little bit of cheese.
Not much of a taco I am sure you will agree!
But what is it about these ingredients I’ve recommended you remove that makes them so bad for a dog’s diet? Well, I’ve already explained about how onion and garlic can be bad for dogs, so let’s focus on the other ingredients to avoid feeding a dog from Taco Bell.
- Jalapeno peppers: Dogs are not accustomed to eating spicy foods, so just a little jalapeno can play havoc with their insides. It’s also cruel, as the dog would not be expecting this type of taste in its mouth.
- Mexican rice: Plain rice is ok for dogs to eat, and in fact it can often settle their stomach after a bout of sickness. So, rice is ok, but I’d make sure it was totally bland and plain with no spices.
- Guacamole: This classic Mexican dish also contains onions and garlic so should be avoided in your dog’s taco meal.
- Sour cream: Cream isn’t toxic to dogs, but it’s certainly not healthy. Some dogs are also lactose intolerant, so it’s not really a gamble you should take when letting a dog eat tacos from Taco Bell or your own recipe.
- Tortilla shells: In small amounts, soft flour-based tortillas are ok for dogs to eat as tacos, but some dogs can have wheat and grain allergies. Hard tortilla shells are a definite no, as they can present a choking hazard.
What can I get my dog at Taco Bell that is dog friendly?
Let’s say you’ve got all the way to Taco Bell and realized it’s your only option for feeding your dog. You might wonder if Taco Bell is dog friendly food-wise. I had a look at the menu and dissected it a little to see what you might be able to feed your dog from their offerings.
What can dogs eat at Taco Bell?
To be blunt, I am struggling to find a decent main for my dog from Taco Bell. Burritos have very similar ingredients to tacos, so those are definitely to be avoided.
In fact, almost all the food you can buy at Taco Bell has some form of spicy ingredient or onion and garlic. Based on that, I might stretch to ordering a plain taco for my dog to eat, but with just the meat in it.
Obviously, we know that Taco Bell meat has onion and garlic in it in small quantities, but I’d imagine it would be ok as a one-off emergency meal. But of course, this is only if you have no other options for your dog.
If it’s a side you want, I’d opt for the Taco Bell black beans from the perspective that this is a food that can actually be good for dogs. Black beans are a great source of vitamins and fiber, but… we all know what beans can do to a dog!
And for dessert?
There are always the cinnamon twists, but they aren’t a healthy choice. You can imagine how the salt content is too high for a dog if this snack is eaten too regularly.
Did You Know? Whilst Taco Bell do not allow dogs inside their restaurants, Taco Bell is dog friendly outside, letting owners sit with their pets on external patios if they have one.
More reasons why dogs should not eat tacos
I’ve covered off the ingredients in taco and Taco Bell food that are possibly harmful for your dog and not very dog friendly. What I also wanted to cover was the calories in some typical taco recipes too.
Just like us, dogs can get diabetes and health issues due to weight gain, so you need to keep any eye on their daily calories.
Here’s what I found out to help me crunch the numbers:
- Dogs should only eat 25 calories for each pound they weigh each day.
- Dogs should only have treats as 10% of their total daily food intake (the 90/10 rule).
I then applied that logic to two typical dog breeds, using the weight of an average male.
- Average French Bulldog is 25 pounds: Should eat no more than 625 calories daily.
- Average Labrador is 70 pounds: Should eat no more than 1,750 calories daily.
Now that I know how many calories each dog should be eating it’s possible to apply those numbers to items off the Taco Bell menu.
- Chalupa Supreme Beef (401 calories): 64% French Bulldog / 23% Labrador daily intake.
- 7-Layer Burrito (454 calories): 73% French Bulldog / 26% Labrador daily intake.
- Soft Taco Supreme Beef (236 calories): 38% French Bulldog / 13% Labrador daily intake.
As you can see, for a small to medium dog breed like a Frenchie, Taco Bell is a large proportion of what they should be eating each day!
What happens if my dog eats a taco?
We’re almost at the end of this journey into dogs eating taco meat. What I’ve not really covered off is what might happen if your dog does eat Taco Bell.
I don’t want to be accused of using scare tactics, so in all honesty, nothing will probably happen to your dog if he eats a taco. 9 times out of 10, he might be perfectly fine, with the possibility of perhaps some runny diarrhea.
But there is always a risk when you let your dog eat food they are not meant to. Signs of sickness in dogs that ate something that disagreed with them include:
- Abdominal pain
If you have any concerns with what your dog has eaten, please seek a vet’s opinion. The content in this guide is purely based on my own opinions as a dog owner, rather than professional veterinarian advice.
I do not recommend you let your dog eat anything from Taco Bell unless you have no other option. And that’s extremely unlikely. You’re responsible for your dog’s health, so keep their diet good, and they should live a much happier and longer life.
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