Funyuns: the secret shame of every snack-loving aficionado.
Once upon a time we’ve all devoured a whole pack in a single sitting, but do you remember the last time you ate the onion-flavored rings?
I sure don’t.
Your dog does though. Somehow it made its way to the back of your cupboard and found the last package of Funyuns in your home like it was Jesse Pinkman.
Never mind that it’s probably expired- Can dogs even eat Funyuns?
It would seem unlikely that they are a suitable food for dogs, given that they are meant to replicate onion rings and are high in fat and sodium. All three of these qualities are usually pretty big negatives when it comes to canines.
Like with Sunchips, one or two chips aren’t likely to cause too many problems, but it doesn’t take too many more than that for them to become potentially dangerous to a dog’s health.
Just to be sure, we’re going to do a deep dive on Funyuns and their possible effects on dogs. Read on!
According to Frito-Lay, the very company that makes the snacks, Funyuns are, “A deliciously different snack that’s fun to eat, with a crisp texture and zesty onion flavor.”
Instrumental in that description is the keyword, “onion flavor”. While Funyuns were modeled after the popular fried onion rings, the chips themselves are actually made out of fried cornmeal with no whole onions involved.
Not even little pieces of onion will be found in the dough, as it is instead flavored with onion powder, garlic powder and some additional natural onion flavors in the seasoning blend.
The ingredients list shows cornmeal, vegetable oil, and salt as the three most prominent components, with the rest of the ingredients such as sugar, buttermilk, onion powder, and garlic powder making up less than 2% of the product.
Though Funyuns do contain both onion and garlic powder, they are added in such tiny amounts that it is very unlikely to harm your dog. They are listed right towards the bottom of the overall ingredients list- so while you can taste the ‘zest’, the dosage is almost negligible.
Your dog would have to eat a lot (and by that I mean bags and bags worth) of Funyuns in order to be in any danger of onion poisoning from the product.
This is seemingly good news for dog owners, as even the most blissfully unaware among us know that onions and garlic are toxic to dogs.
Onions and garlic belong to the Allium family of plants, and when eaten in moderate to large portions by your dogs they can cause serious medical issues. Some dogs like the Shiba Inu and Akita have extra sensitivity to onions and leeks where even small amounts can be dangerous.
When onions and garlic are eaten, they have the ability to cause gastroenteritis or inflammation of the GI tract. This reflects through signs such as excessive drooling, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
However, the deadliness of alliums comes from how they affect the blood of dogs.
Alliums contain chemicals that attack the red blood cells inside dogs, thinning cell walls and destroying them. This results in a decreased number of red blood cells that are available to carry oxygen throughout the body, causing anemia, lethargy and overall weakness.
It also relaxes the heart muscles of a dog and enlarges blood vessels, making circulation more difficult. Everything considered, onions are definitely one food that you want to keep far away from your pup.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of onion to make a dog sick, either. VCA Hospitals states that a quantity of onions equal to 0.5% of a dog’s body weight is enough to make it ill.
Luckily, it’s unlikely that Funyuns contain anywhere near that amount of onions in the form of powder. Even if a dog was to eat a whole 450 gram bag of the chips, the total amount of onion and garlic powder ingested would not exceed a highball estimate of 9 grams!
To put it into even simpler terms: A whole bag of chips would only be dangerous to a dog, in terms of allium toxicity, if the dog were under 4.4 pounds!
As you can see, the onion and garlic powder contained in a bag of Funyuns are insignificant and unlikely to affect your dog in a detrimental way- especially if all it ate was a few chips.
Funyuns can actually still pose a significant health risk to your dog however. Different dangers lurk in the pores of the crispy rings, hidden from plain sight- Beware the alarmingly high fat and sodium levels.
Each 13 piece serving of Funyuns contains a total of 140 calories, 6 grams of fat (1 gram saturated) and 280mgs of sodium.
Again, while a few chips won’t be very damaging to a dog’s health in this regard, you can imagine how it could easily rack up multiple servings in short order- especially since there are around 16 servings in each bag.
Double, triple or quadruple the amount of chips eaten and the fat, sodium and calories quickly follow suit.
Fat is a necessary macronutrient for dogs to maintain optimal health and wellbeing. It will help to keep the skin and coat healthy, and is good for the eyes and brain as well.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the average 33-pound dog should be eating a total of 14 grams of fat per day.
When a dog has too much fat in its diet, it will be in danger of weight gain and the literal pressure that gets placed onto various parts of its body. Joints, bones and vital organs will all suffer as a negative flow-on effect.
The more significant the weight gain, the bigger the problems that will begin to emerge. As more fat is accrued inside the body, conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease become ever more likely.
Less than 3 servings (around 30 chips) can take a dog over its daily fat requirements, depending of course on its size.
When a dog eats too much fat too quickly, it can be at risk of something called acute pancreatitis. This is where the pancreas becomes irritated and inflamed by the fat that it suddenly has to deal with, and decides to digest itself instead.
A dog with pancreatitis can experience symptoms such as stomach pain, lethargy, vomiting, and fever.
Serious instances of pancreatitis will need to be treated with anti-inflammatories, painkillers and IV fluids by the vet. Though dogs will be able to recover in most instances, it can become life-threatening.
Sodium, just like fat, is required by a dog’s body in very small amounts in order to function properly. It helps to maintain nerve and muscle health and prevents cells in the body from swelling or dehydrating.
The type of salt that dogs most commonly encounter is ordinary table salt (sodium chloride), though they have been known for getting into Epsom salts meant for your bathtub.
The average 30-pound dog only needs a grand total of 100mg of sodium per day. If you remember from above, one single serving of Funyuns has 280mgs of sodium. That’s 2.8 times a dog’s daily limit in 13 measly chips!
Herein lies the true danger of Funyuns for dogs- like the Dead Sea, they are just TOO salty.
If your dog consumes too much sodium, it can experience effects ranging from neurological impediment to gastrointestinal stress- and even cardiovascular damage. It will also cause extreme thirst and urination, which can then lead to severe dehydration.
Eating too much sodium is especially dangerous for older dogs, or for dogs that have underlying kidney, liver and heart disease.
The common signs of sodium poisoning include:
- Confusion or disorientation
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of coordination
- Watery diarrhea
- Tongue swelling
In very serious cases, a dog may experience seizures, go into a coma, and even be at risk of death.
If your dog has eaten even half a serving of Funyuns (6-7 chips), make sure that it drinks as much water as possible to flush the sodium out of its system. You may even have to proactively make it rehydrate through methods such as using ice cubes or a syringe.
As signs of salt poisoning may not be obvious to an untrained eye until it’s too late, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet as soon as you discover that it has eaten way too many Funyuns.
Can dogs eat Funyuns? No.
As much as you love your pet, it’s better to err on the safe side and resist the temptation to feed it the onion-flavored snacks.
It’s not so much the onion content or flavoring that will make your dog ill. In fact, there’s not enough onion or garlic in the chips to make even a small dog sick– even if it eats a whole bag. No, the onion ring imitation is not what is dangerous for your pup here.
Instead, what can make your dog really sick is the high fat and extremely high sodium levels present in Funyuns. A few servings will quickly exceed a dog’s daily fat limit, and it will only take 6 chips(!) to exceed the amount of sodium it should safely be eating in a day!
Eating too much fat and sodium can result in pancreatitis and salt poisoning, respectively. Skip the potential assault on your dog’s life and feed it something healthy (like collagen or fish heads) instead!
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.