One of our guilty pleasures is mac and cheese. The delicious cheesy comfort food is an ideal meal for when you’re too busy to whip up anything complicated. If your dog just devoured a box of Kraft while you were not looking, or you purposely fed them table scraps, you might be wondering if it is safe and healthy for them.
Should you feed your four-legged friend macaroni and cheese? Nope. It’s not good to feed your pup all that cheesy stuff. Mac and cheese are not intrinsically toxic. It’s just not healthy and nutritious for your canine.
Here’s what our animal nutritionists want you to know about feeding your dog mac and cheese. We also give you a few healthy and nutritious treats you can give your pup.
What Are The Dangers Of Feeding My Dog Mac And Cheese?
Though mac and cheese have lured many pups into transgression, this comfortable, hearty meal is far from a healthy choice. The pasta, cheese, seasonings, salt, and additives can lead to your furry companion experiencing severe health effects. They include:
Gluten intolerance: mac and cheese are not complete without pasta, and different brands use different varieties. Some pups have more trouble digesting wheat products and will experience gluten allergies like diarrhea, flatulence, vomiting, weight loss, chronic ear infection, foot chewing, and atopic dermatitis.
Lactose intolerance: like most humans, some dogs suffer adverse reactions to dairy products such as diarrhea, lack of appetite, vomiting, flatulence, bloating, hives, itchiness, and swelling of the face.
Excess sugar: macaroni has sugar that breaks down slowly in your pup’s GI system. When you overfeed your pup with pasta, the glucose is stored as fat. You’ll notice that your canine companion will start to put on extra pounds. They are highly likely to develop obesity, lethargy, diabetes, joint problems, heart disease, difficulty in breathing, and pancreatitis.
Salt poisoning: salt is one of the ingredients in mac and cheese. In small amounts, it is healthy for your canine. Still, excessive intake can cause salt poisoning resulting in vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, decreased appetite, incoordination, tremors, excessive thirst or urination, seizures, coma, and death.
Phthalates: This is probably the worst ingredient in mac and cheese. Phthalates are carcinogenic and damage the liver, kidney, and reproductive system. And yet cheese products contain around four times the recommended levels.
Allergic reactions: Some varieties of packaged mac and cheese using cheese powder present a greater risk to your pup’s health other than lactose intolerance. These cheese powders are chockfull of artificial flavors and colors that are not good for your dog. They can cause constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, allergies, hyperactivity, aggression, and asthma.
My Dog Ate Mac And Cheese – What Should I do?
If your furry baby had a bite or two of mac and cheese, they would not experience any adverse effects. But if they sank their mouth into a bowl of this melty dish, they’ll probably fall ill—no need to panic. Unless there are canine-toxic ingredients such as onions, chives, garlic, or fat trimmings, you’ll rarely need a visit to the emergency room.
Monitor your pup’s bowel movements and energy levels. They will likely have gastric distress such as diarrhea and vomiting. So you might want to stay home to take care of them and give them plenty of freshwaters to keep them hydrated.
When they stop showing the above symptoms, feed them small meals of dry food. But if their condition worsens after a few days, take them to the vet clinic.
You should call your vet when they experience severe symptoms such as gluten and lactose intolerance or hypernatremia. Also, if they ate mac and cheese with ingredients known to be toxic to dogs like garlic and onions, you need to rush them to the vet clinic. These ingredients can be fatal to your pup’s health.
What Quantity Of Mac And Cheese Can My Dog Eat?
Your dog can gobble up as much mac and cheese as you give them. We strongly recommend that you avoid giving your dog any mac and cheese. But if you have to, stick to a bite-size and not too often. Also, start slowly by giving your dog a few bites and monitoring how they react before allowing them to eat larger quantities.
Figure out beforehand if your dog is lactose and glucose-intolerant to avoid life-threatening consequences. Also, ensure the food has no ingredients that are harmful to canines. Vets recommend sticking to the 10 percent rule for treats in your dog’s diet. We mean that their regular food should provide 90 percent of their calories, and for the remaining 10 percent, you can offer treats. You can find out from your vet the number of calories your pup should be consuming in a day.
Alternatively, you can use a calorie calculator to estimate the daily calorie intake of your dog based on his weight. Ideally, it would be best to offer your pup mac and cheese as a treat or as table scraps that happen to fall on the floor during lunchtime.
What Healthy Alternatives Can You Feed Your Dog Instead Of Mac And Cheese?
Macaroni and cheese is ideally not dog food, although an occasional bite or two won’t hurt. However, instead of rewarding your dog with a bowl of mac n cheese, try feeding them one or all of these healthier options.
Some brands offer gluten-free options that can benefit your pup if they are gluten intolerant. But, even a simple homemade mac and cheese can still give your dog a bad reaction. You are better off sticking to healthy, natural, and nutrient-dense canine-friendly foods:
- Raw bell peppers, apples, and blueberries
- Raw carrots, pineapple, seedless watermelon
- Baked sweet potato
- Well-cooked and unseasoned chicken, fish, and pork
- Pears, bananas, zucchini
- Bone broth
- Unsalted, organic peanut butter
- Cooked plain white rice
All the listed foods are natural and healthy, whether fed raw or cooked. They contain plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants than a box of Kraft and will boost your pup’s immunity in the long run.
The Bottom Line
So, is it okay to give your Fido a taste of the iconic golden-yellow heaven? Macaroni and cheese is unhealthy for your Fido, so you’ll want to stick to a bite once in a blue moon. The gluten, dairy, and artificial additives can leave your dog nursing a painfully embarrassing stomach upset. The extra calories can also lead your furry baby down a diabetic path.
Stick to feeding your pup their kibble. It should provide your canine with the needed daily calories. And if you want to give them a treat, you can choose one of our listed healthier alternatives.