Is it meatloaf night at home? This classic American dish is a staple on the menu in many American households. Sitting down to some meatloaf and roasted veggies is a fantastic meal that's full of flavor.
However, it's not just the family that loves meatloaf – your dog loves it too. Chances are they sit and whine at your feet, licking their chops in anticipation of some scraps after the meal.
Can dogs have meatloaf? Is it safe for them? If you left it up to your furry friend, they would eat the entire tray without a second thought.
However, experts say that feeding your dog meatloaf can end up damaging their health. Why? What's wrong with meatloaf, and why would it be toxic to your dog?
In this post, we'll unpack the answers to these questions, and we'll even give you a dog-friendly meatloaf recipe to try.
Can Dogs Have Meatloaf?
It's a bit of a complicated answer. Sure, you can feed your dog anything – but should you? Meatloaf contains ground beef as the primary ingredient, and that's fine for dogs, even when cooked.
However, there are a few other ingredients in meatloaf that might not agree with your dog's digestive system.
Meatloaf recipes use ground beef for the base, but it also contains spices and vegetables. Some of these ingredients are not suitable for dogs. MSG is a popular flavoring used in meatloaf, and it causes severe health complications in dogs.
MSG accumulates in your pooches digestive tract, causing issues like pancreatitis. Therefore, feeding your dog meatloaf is not a great idea unless you cook them a special batch without the veggies and spices.
If you feed your dog meatloaf from the table, you could make them severely sick. Dogs with pancreatitis tend to vomit after eating, and they might also experience diarrhea. Pancreatitis is a serious condition, and it can lead to death in some cases.
Meatloaf is a fatty dish. The meat contains fat, and you fry it in oil. Fatty dishes are not healthy for dogs. The average canine diet should feature around 10% fat in the total daily macros (protein, carbs, and fat).
Exceeding this fat limit puts your dog at risk of developing pancreatitis. However, it also increases calorie consumption, resulting in an overweight pooch.
Obesity is a problem in dogs, just like it is in humans. If your dog gets overweight or obese, they run the risk of developing disorders like diabetes.
Overall, it's not going to harm your dog if you give them some meatloaf scraps after finishing your meal. However, regular feeding of human food to your pets is not a good idea unless you're cooking it specifically for your animals.
Are Cooked Onions OK for Dogs?
Since meatloaf might have onions, you might ask yourself: "can dogs eat cooked onions in food?"
Apart from the fat and spices in meatloaf, chefs use veggies to round the flavor profile and nutrient content. However, the onions in your meatloaf can cause severe digestive inflammation and damage to your dog. If you're planning on giving them meatloaf scraps, make sure you remove the onion first.
Onion is tasty, and we use it to complement many dishes. It's a member of the Allium family, along with garlic, and we bet you can't imagine cooking any dish without those two ingredients.
While onion and garlic taste great to humans, these allium's produce a toxic effect in dogs.
Onions and garlic contain N-propyl disulfide, a toxic compound to dogs. N-propyl disulfide causes the breakdown of red blood cells in dogs.
Red blood cells are responsible for supplying the body with oxygen. When red blood cell counts drop and production wanes, your dog will develop a blood disorder known as anemia.
Anemia leaves your dog feeling tired all day. They may be unresponsive to your calls, and they no longer feel like playing in the yard.
You'll notice changes in their personality as the anemia worsens. They lose interest in activities that they would otherwise normally enjoy, and they lose that spark of enthusiasm and excitement that's common in all dog breeds.
Anemia is a serious blood disorder requiring medical assistance to help the animal recover. Most dogs can fully recover if they receive treatment in time.
It's important to note that the cooking process does reduce the presence of N-propyl disulfide in onions. However, there will be small amounts of N-propyl disulfide in the cooked onion, and that will still affect your dog.
Keep the onions and garlic on your plate, and leave it out of your dog's dinner bowl.
What Part of the Onion has a Toxic Effect in Dogs?
As mentioned, onions create a toxic effect on dogs, leading to the development of anemia. Anemia is a life-threatening condition requiring immediate treatment with your vet.
So, what parts of the onion are unsafe for dogs to eat?
The answer is that all parts of the onion are toxic to dogs. The leaves, flesh, and juice of the onion all contain N-propyl disulfide, the toxic ingredient in this bulbous vegetable. Onion powder also produces the same dangerous blood disorder in dogs.
Whether you're frying, grilling, or baking onions, they'll harm the canine digestive system if eaten.
Onion powder is in a surprising amount of foods, so make sure you check the ingredients label on any foods you cook, and avoid giving those scraps to your dog.
We also recommend leaving any alliums out of your meatloaf recipe. Garlic, shallots, chives, and leeks all feature high levels of N-propyl disulfide.
One medium-size onion is enough to produce a toxic effect in your dog's digestive system, and it accumulates in the digestive tract.
Therefore, if you regularly feed a small amount of onion to your dog, it may eventually develop anemia.
What are the Symptoms of Onion Toxicity in Dogs?
The symptoms of onion toxicity align with those produced by anemia.
This blood disorder limits the flow of oxygen in the bloodstream, causing the following symptoms.
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Apathy and weakness
- Decreased excitement and a loss of appetite
- Discolored gums
- Fainting and oversleeping
- Red-colored urine (from red blood cells leaking from the kidneys)
Other clinical signs of anemia recognized by the ASPCA include elevated heart rate, vomiting, and excessive panting.
Can I Feed My Dog Cooked Ground Beef?
Yes, it's entirely fine to feed your dog cooked ground beef. However, you'll need to monitor the cooking process and do it the right way.
As mentioned, too much fat in your dog's diet leads to problems like pancreatitis and obesity. Therefore, it's important that you only feed your pooch lean mince – avoid the fatty stuff.
Dogs do well with a ground beef diet comprising 2% to 3% of its body weight. If you're having trouble calculating the portion size, ask your vet.
Also, check out our 5 recipes meatball recipes for dogs blog post for some inspiration.
How Do I Cook Ground Beef for Dogs?
Cooking ground beef for your dogs is easy. Follow this quick guide to creating delicious ground beef meals for your furry friend.
1. Boil the meat instead of frying it – this method removes most of the fat in the meal.
2. If frying, make sure you use as little oil as possible.
3. Drain the meaty after frying to remove excess fat.
4. Soak up any extra oil with paper towels.
We recommend using lean ground beef with a 90/10 meat/fat ratio.
3 Easy Homemade Meatloaf for Dogs Recipes
Want to create a dog-friendly meatloaf for your pet? Choose one of these three recipes to make tasty meatloaf your dog will love.
1. Barking Good Doggie Meatloaf
A delicious organic meatloaf recipe for dogs courtesy of The Bark. It's packed with healthy and complex carbs, lean meat, eggs and vegetables.
- 2lbs ground beef or turkey (90/10)
- 1-cup organic oatmeal (cooked)
- ¾-cup organic breadcrumbs or flax meal
- ½-cup organic fresh parsley chopped fine
- 2-large free-range eggs
- 2-cups frozen or fresh organic vegetables (avoid onion)
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. Place oven rack in the middle rack.
3. Mix ingredients with your hands.
4. Transfer the meatloaf mixture to a loaf pan.
5. Bake for one hour until top is a crispy brown color.
2. Cesar's Way Dog Meatloaf
Here's another dog-friendly meatloaf recipe from Cesar's Way that's protein rich with a good dose of green vegetables.
- 4lbs lean ground beef or turkey (90/10)
- ½-lb free-range chicken livers, diced
- 4-free range eggs
- 2-cups steamed carrots, pureed in a blender
- 2-cups steamed potatoes, pureed in a blender
- 2-cups steamed green beans, pureed in a blender
1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
2. Combine ingredients and divide into four 8" x 4" loaf tins.
3. Fill loaf tins to ¾-full.
4. Bake for one hour.
5. Store in airtight containers in the fridge.
3. Beefaloaf Dog Food Recipe
Our final recipe comes from PetGuide, it's easy to make and rich in proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats.
- 1lb lean ground beef or turkey (90/10)
- 2-large free-range eggs
- 1½ cups rolled oats or steel-cut oats
- 1½-cups grated mixed veggies (avoid onion)
- ½-cup plain cottage cheese
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix ingredients in a bowl until combined.
3. Press into a meatloaf pan.
4. Place in the middle rack in the oven.
5. Bake for 40-minutes until the top is brown and crispy.
6. Allow time to cool before feeding your dog.
7. Store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge.