Mac and cheese is irresistible comfort food with a popularity that extends throughout the world. And we deem this undebatable considering its creamy and cheesy taste, as well as its accessibility and ease of preparation.
No wonder even our canine companions are drawn to its smell and taste. But wait, can dogs eat mac and cheese?
Can Dogs Eat Mac and Cheese?
A whole bowl of freshly-cooked or heated mac and cheese is always a pleaser and an instant mood booster whenever one is feeling down, or in need of a relaxing treat at home.
And if you are a pet owner who is always being followed by your furry friend at home, you may also be tempted to give your dog macaroni and cheese. For how could you not share this delicious human food with your dearest canine buddy, right?
Good thing that if your dog accidentally ate a spoonful of your boxed mac and cheese, he should just be fine. Generally, dogs can eat macaroni and cheese since its primary ingredients are not toxic for them.
However, it’s not something that you should be giving your pup regularly. More so, you should not include it as part of your dog’s diet.
Just like with any processed foods, eating mac and cheese regularly can eventually wreak havoc on your dog’s health. Macaroni and cheese contains wheat (gluten), sugar, dairy products, as well as artificial colors, artificial flavoring, and other artificial ingredients. Sad to say, all of these ingredients can be problematic for dogs.
And while cheese, which is the primary ingredient in making this tasty dish, isn’t generally toxic to dogs, some types can cause some health issues and can even be poisonous for them. In particular, blue cheese can be toxic to dogs because of the molds that give them their blue color.
Additionally, some cheeses contain additional ingredients that can be harmful to your furry friend, such as garlic, onion, herbs, and other spices.
Hence, if you intend to give mac and cheese to your dog, make sure to check the ingredients, and just give him small quantities as occasional treats.
Is Mac and Cheese Safe for Dogs?
Yes, it is safe for dogs to eat macaroni and cheese, but only in very small quantities. However, if your dogs suffer from wheat or gluten intolerances you should never feed them mac and cheese. Dogs with gluten intolerance will often experience loose bowel movements, gassiness, and rash.
What’s more, most dogs have lactose intolerance. And though it can be dangerous, it shouldn't be life threatening unless your dog feast on mac and cheese every day. It’s also worth noting that most of the content of this article is focused on boxed macaroni and cheese.
So, if you cooked your recipe at home using dog-friendly ingredients, it can be way safer for your pup. Nonetheless, it isn’t still healthy for your pup since it still contains too much cheese, sugar, calories, and fats.
Nutritional Value and Ingredients of Mac and Cheese
Macaroni cheese is not very good for your dog's nutritional needs. To be fair, though, it does contain carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients so it doesn't totally lack nutrition. It has calories because it contains milk, butter, and other ingredients.
And for the record, people have complained that most boxed mac & cheeses contain some form of phthalates. These chemicals can be found in materials made from rubber and soap.
They are present in various food products during the processing, such as in powdered cheese. Sad to say, these chemical compounds are known to cause cancer.
Wheat is a primary ingredient in most dry dog foods. So, this may have caused you to wonder why this ingredient is here. Generally, wheat is not harmful to dogs but a few dogs have allergies like everyone else.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can occur in dogs and include diarrhea, fatigue, low metabolism of food, poor skin, and even poor body condition such as being very thin.
If you believe your pet does not have gluten intolerance or has a history of it, but is exhibiting these symptoms after eating mac and cheese, you should see your vet immediately.
Most dogs are lactose intolerant. So, the dairy-rich foods they eat may cause them to experience flatulence, diarrhea, and vomiting. Hence, what has been intended as a treat becomes a punishment for your dog.
Another negative thing about cheese is its fat content. We understand that we shouldn't eat cheese too often because it can cause us to gain weight. And sad to say, this is doubly true for our canine companions.
Sugar is harmful both to dogs and to human beings and it can be found in boxed mac and cheese. If dogs consume even a little bit of sugar, this can be very dangerous to their dental health as they can’t brush their teeth, unless you do it for them.
Sugar can also cause digestive issues in dogs, such as loose bowels or even severe diarrhea. The sugar that dogs are fed can also cause weight gain which also results in other problems.
Overweight dogs may be prone to diabetes, and excess fat may be harmful to their joints. Several macs and cheeses also contain added sugar which may negatively impact the health of the dog.
One ingredient in many types of macaroni cheese is salt. Salt can be helpful for dogs in small doses as well as humans in terms of reducing the calories they consume.
However, too much salt can make dogs very thirsty and may lead to dehydration. It can also upset a dog's stomach causing vomiting and diarrhea.
Too much salt may lead to hypernatremia or iodine poisoning, which could lead to convulsions or even death. If your dog eats mac and cheese, ensure that he drinks plenty of water.
Artificial Ingredients, Processed Foods
The worst mac & cheese you'd want your pup to eat would be the heavily processed version and packaged version. When they are packaged rather than homemade, the chance is that they contain artificial coloring, flavor, and other additives.
Artificial colors are not good for humans or dogs, but dogs can get severe reactions because they haven't been exposed to the new ingredients.
Processed foods can cause digestive issues and diarrhea in dogs, and sometimes some dogs may also experience skin irritation.
Can It Be Bad to Feed Your Dog Mac and Cheese?
Mac and cheese is perfectly fine for most dogs when given in moderation, but for dogs with lactose intolerance and gluten allergies, even a small amount of mac and cheese can cause troublesome symptoms.
Just like us, humans, dogs can also have issues with milk products. Unfortunately, many pet owners don't know that their dog has lactose intolerance until their dogs have eaten something that they shouldn't have been given, such as cheese.
Lactose intolerant means that dogs lack enzymes which breaks down milk glucose, called lactose. Without these enzymes, the undigested lactose begins to pile up inside a dog's stomach and intestines. Eventually, this may lead to diarrhea and vomiting.
If your dog suffers from a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity, you must avoid giving him anything that contains wheat which includes mac and cheese. This condition is not as common as lactose intolerance, but some dogs suffer from it.
In particular, some dogs are sensitive to the process that wheat has been through, which includes bleaching (that generally results in whitened wheat). Some wheat also undergoes a lot of processing. So, it's also possible that a dog's symptoms could not be entirely caused by an allergic reaction to wheat, but also by how it was made.
Symptoms that you should watch out for include gassiness, diarrhea, sudden weight loss, hair loss, skin rashes, or irritation. It’s best to contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms so he can provide veterinary advice. He can also perform standard assessments and additional tests to confirm the diagnosis.
You should not wait for your dog’s condition to get worse that may warrant an emergency visit to the vet’s office or clinic. At this point, you will probably face more expensive interventions, and there’s also a higher chance that your dog’s health may be more compromised already.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Mac and Cheese?
As mentioned earlier, mac n cheese is not toxic to your dog, but it is unhealthy. So, unless your smaller dogs ate an entire box of macaroni and cheese, then, you have nothing to worry about.
Nonetheless, you should still monitor your dog’s behavior after eating his fatty little treat. Keep a close look on your dog for the next couple of hours for the signs of allergies or illnesses that may have developed.
When symptoms like vomiting are present, give your dog enough water to keep him hydrated. When the symptoms stop displaying, try feeding him with dry foods. If digestive problems do not subside after some time and are deteriorating, take your dog to the vet immediately.