Sunchips: the only snacks where opening the packet is sadly louder than the crunch you get when you eat them.
Despite their regrettable fall from popularity and grace over the past decade, they remain a viable grazing choice with a multitude of appealing flavors.
They also haven’t lost any popularity with your dog, who eyes them hungrily every time you take a packet out from the dark corners of your food cabinet.
The question remains to be answered: Can dogs eat Sunchips, in all their previous glory?
In actual fact, they are not the worst snacks that a dog can have, especially compared with such luminaries as Funyuns or Sour Patch Kids.
It helps that they are multigrain chips that pack a bit of fiber into their serving size. In addition to that, the Original and Sweet Potato & Brown Sugar versions are low in sodium- which is obviously good news for a canine’s liver and kidneys.
However, due to the high fat, calorie and sodium content of the other (tastier) flavors, they remain an overall unsuitable food for dogs. At the very least, there are much better options out there for your pup.
A few chips here and there won’t hurt it too much or at all, but it doesn’t take many more than that for them to start to become hazardous to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
This is the deep dive on Sunchips and their possible impact on dogs that you never knew you needed. Venture on!
According to PepsiCo, the company that produces Sunchips, their rippled, multigrain product is “Everyone’s favorite whole grain chip”. While that may no longer be true, it’s difficult to deny that they are at least healthier than your average potato chip.
The ingredients list of Original Sunchips contains the following components:
- Whole corn
- Sunflower/canola oil
- Whole wheat
- Brown rice flour
- Whole oat flour
- Natural flavor
The Sweet Potato & Brown Sugar version has additional ingredients of dried sweet potato, brown sugar, butter, and honey.
Meanwhile the remaining 3 flavors (French Onion, Garden Salsa, Harvest Cheddar) all have some combination of onion powder, garlic powder, cheeses, and other spices.
Garlic and onion powder are the two ingredients that make any dog owner’s eyes light up when browsing the back of packets, as they are well-known for being toxic to canines.
While multiple versions of Sunchips do contain both garlic and onion powder, the amounts added are so tiny that it is very improbable that they will hurt your dog. Neither ingredient is listed near the top of the list for any flavor, so the dosage will be negligible.
A dog would have to eat many bags worth of French Onion Sunchips to even be in the ballpark for any potential danger of onion and garlic poisoning.
Garlic and onions are part of the Allium family of plants, and can cause serious health issues in dogs when eaten in moderate to large quantities. Some dogs, such as the Akita and Shiba Inu, are particularly sensitive to leeks and onions.
Onions and garlic can cause a dog’s GI tract to become inflamed (Gastroenteritis) when eaten. The is shown through symptoms such as nausea, abnormal drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.
Even more deadly is how the alliums are able to affect the dog’s blood.
Chemicals inside alliums attack the walls of red blood cells, thinning and destroying them. This leads to a decreased number of available red blood cells that can effectively transport oxygen throughout the body, and results in conditions such as lethargy, weakness, and anemia.
The chemicals also enlarge blood vessels and relaxes heart muscles, creating circulatory difficulties. All in all, onions and garlic should definitely be kept far away from your pooch.
A dog doesn’t need to eat a whole lot of onion for it to become ill, either. According to VCA Hospitals, a quantity of onions equal to 0.5% of a dog’s body weight is enough to render it sick.
Fortunately, it’s unlikely that any bag of Sunchips contain anywhere near the toxic amount of garlic or onion powder. Therefore, in this regard, Sunchips won’t affect your dog in a negative manner- especially if it just munched on one or two chips.
However, that’s not to say that they can’t pose any health risk at all. Hidden dangers lurk in the wavy ripples of the fried, zesty crisps, in the form of tenuously high sodium and fat levels.
On average, each 14 piece serving (28 grams) of Sunchips (excluding the Sweet Potato flavor) contains a total of 140 calories, 6 grams of fat (0.5 gram saturated) and 140mgs of sodium.
While a few pieces of chips probably won’t have much of an impact on your dog’s health, it’s easy to picture how it could easily eat numerous servings all at once without missing a beat.
Since there are around 7 servings in a packet, that’s a problem. The fat, sodium and calories will all quickly add up and can cause immediate and long-term issues.
Don’t get me wrong- fat isn’t all bad!
In fact, it’s a very necessary component of a dog’s ideal diet. The macronutrient helps to keep the eyes, skin, coat, and brain to function optimally.
The average 33-pound dog should be eating around 14 grams of fat per day, according to the National Academy of Sciences.
However, when a dog gets a bit KFC-happy and eats too much fat, it will inevitably put on unwanted weight in the form of fatty tissue. This fatty tissue places intense, unwanted pressure on the rest of the body, damaging joints, bones and vital organs galore.
If fat gain is prolonged, long-term issues start to come into play. These can include afflictions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Less than 3 servings (around 40 chips) of Sunchips can take a dog over its daily fat requirements, depending of course on its size and weight.
When a dog eats and has to digest a large amount of fat all of a sudden, it can heighten the risk of a disease called acute pancreatitis.
Acute pancreatitis is where the pancreas becomes so inflamed and aggravated by the rapid influx of fat that, in its confusion, it decides to digest itself instead. No biggie.
Pancreatitis will be shown through symptoms such as abdominal pain, lethargy, fever, and vomiting.
While most dogs are able to recover from pancreatitis if treated quickly enough, it can become a life-threatening condition. Severe instances need to be treated with IV fluids, vet-prescribed painkillers, and anti-inflammatories.
Why Too Much Sodium Is Bad For Dogs
Even more so than with fat, dogs only need sodium in minimal amounts in order to facilitate proper body function. Sodium is crucial in that it helps to maintain muscle and nerve health, as well as preventing cells in the body from becoming dehydrated or swelling.
Ordinary table salt is probably what most dogs will usually encounter, though some naughtier characters have been known to dig into your prized Epsom salts that you were saving up for a rainy night in
The average 30-pound dog only needs 100mg of sodium per day, according to VetInfo. If you can recall from above, a single serving of Sunchips has an average of 140mgs of sodium. That’s 1.4 times a dog’s daily limit in 14 forgettable chips!
Herein lies the true danger of Sunchips for dogs- like Kanye West at the 2009 MTV Music Awards, they are just TOO salty.
When a dog has too much salt in its system, it can experience effects ranging from digestive distress to neurological disorder, as well as significant cardiovascular deterioration.
Sodium will also cause extreme thirst and urination, which can then lead to a dog becoming severely dehydrated.
Eating too much sodium is especially dangerous dogs that have underlying heart, kidney, or liver disease, and for elderly dogs whose bodily functions are already diminished.
Signs of sodium poisoning can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Tongue swelling
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Watery diarrhea
- Loss of coordination
- Confusion or disorientation
In very dire cases of sodium poisoning, a dog may experience seizures, fall unconscious into a coma, and even be at risk of dying.
If your dog has ingested even half a serving of savory Sunchips (7 chips), make sure that it drinks as much water as possible afterwards to purge the sodium from its body.
It may even be a good idea to force it to take in fluids through methods such as diluting dry food and using ice cubes.
Since it can be difficult for an untrained eye to spot signs of salt poisoning, it may also be best if you take your dog to the vet as soon as you have discovered your dog next to an empty Sunchips packet.
Can dogs eat Sunchips? No.
As much as you adore your pet, it’s best to ignore its puppy eyes and resist the urge to feed it the crispy, fried, whole grain chips.
It’s not so much the onion, garlic, cheese or other spices in the chips that will make your dog sick.
In fact, though alliums are known to be hazardous to canines, there’s just not enough garlic or onion in the chips to make even a small dog sick– and that’s if it eats the whole packet!
Instead, what can cause your pup to become really ill is the high fat and sodium levels present in Sunchips. Three servings can quickly exceed a dog’s daily fat limit, and it will only take 7 chips(!) to go over the amount of sodium it can safely consume in a day.
Eating too much fat can lead to short-term issues like pancreatitis and long-term afflictions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Excess sodium will leave your dog thirsty and dehydrated, and in severe cases can result in salt poisoning.
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.