A dog with a wary expression looking at tamales, showing they are harmful to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Tamales?

No, dogs should not eat tamales. These tasty treats, often filled with seasoned meat and wrapped in corn husks, can pose serious health risks to your furry friend. The ingredients used, such as spicy seasonings, onions, garlic, and the corn husks themselves, can lead to digestive issues and even toxicity.

A photo of Stefan Stumpfl, the co-author of this article.

By Stefan Stumpfl, in collaboration with Dr. Ali Raza.

Updated on Jun 27, 2024

Did You Know?

The masa dough in tamales is made from corn and can be difficult for dogs to digest.




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Allergic Risk


Why Are Tamales Bad for Dogs?

Tamales are bad for dogs because they contain ingredients that are harmful to them. Spices such as chili powder can cause gastrointestinal distress. Onions and garlic are toxic to dogs and can lead to severe health issues. The corn husks used to wrap tamales can cause choking or intestinal blockages if ingested.

How Many Tamales Can Dogs Eat?

It’s best to avoid giving tamales to your dog entirely. If your dog happens to get a hold of a very small piece without the harmful seasonings or husk, it might be okay, but it’s not worth the risk. Always consult your vet before introducing any human food to your dog’s diet.

Similar Harmful Products

Tamales are not the only potentially harmful food for dogs. Many similar items pose threats:

  • Enchiladas: Often contain spicy ingredients and onions.
  • Tacos: Filled with seasoned meat that may include toxic spices.
  • Chili: Loaded with onions, garlic, and spices that can upset your dog's stomach.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Tamales?

If your dog eats tamales, observe them closely for any signs of distress such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. Contact your vet immediately if these symptoms occur. Do not attempt to induce vomiting unless directed by a professional, as this can sometimes do more harm than good.

Long-term consequences of consuming harmful foods like tamales can include chronic digestive issues or organ damage. Treatment costs can vary widely but having pet insurance can help manage these expenses, ensuring your fur baby gets the best possible care.

What are Healthy Alternatives?

Instead of sharing tamales, consider these dog-friendly alternatives:

  • Cooked Chicken: Unseasoned and plain, a safe treat.
  • Carrot Sticks: Crunchy and full of vitamins.
  • Peanut Butter: As long as it doesn't contain xylitol, it's a delicious and safe snack.


Tamales are not a safe option for dogs and should be avoided. Always prioritize your dog's health by offering safe, vet-approved treats. When in doubt, consult with your vet, especially if your dog has specific health concerns or dietary requirements.