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Can Dogs Eat Hamburgers? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Apr 28, 2023
a big hamburger on wooden table


a big hamburger on wooden table
Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Are you barbecuing and wondering if you can feed your dog a hamburger? Or did they eat one, and you’re worried about their safety? The good news is that most hamburger components are completely safe for dogs, minus a few exceptions. Does this mean that you should feed them hamburgers often? Probably not. Keep reading to learn why and more about each hamburger ingredient.

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Should You Feed Your Dog Hamburgers?

While feeding your dog “people food” regularly can become a problem for several reasons, like teaching bad food manners and leading to chronic health issues like obesity, the occasional one isn’t harmful. If you’re celebrating at a party or attending a backyard barbecue, your pup may join in with a hamburger.

However, not all hamburger ingredients are safe for dogs. You should know what toppings your dog can and cannot have. Remember that just because a food is generally safe for dogs, your dog may be allergic to it, just like humans have food allergies. If you need help determining whether to feed your dog a certain food, contact your veterinarian.

The Meat

burger patties on the grill
Image Credit: planet_fox, Pixabay

Dogs eat meat regularly as they are omnivores, meaning they eat meat and plants for nutrition. However, many hamburger patties contain additional seasonings that could be toxic to your pet. Spices may cause mild stomach upset, but garlic and onion could cause life-threatening anemia in large enough quantities. If you have decided you would like to make a dog safe hamburger it’s best to avoid seasonings altogether.

The hamburger patty for your pet should be made of lean meat, as it will contain more meaty protein and less unnecessary fat. You may also want to choose lead ground chicken or turkey. Be sure to cook the patty thoroughly and let it cool. Cutting it into pieces can help reduce choking hazards, especially for small dogs.

The Cheese

sliced of cheese
Image Credit: AlexKlen, Pixabay

Cheese is relatively safe for dogs in moderation and if your dog has no pre-existing digestive problems like chronic pancreatitis. Cheese may lead to weight gain when fed often because it is high in calories, but it is a great treat for some. Be sure to choose a low-fat cheese with no spices, peppers, or other ingredients. Some dogs will develop an upset stomach with dairy products.

The Bun

hamburger buns
Image Credit: ka_re, Pixabay

Bread is usually safe for dogs if it is plain white or wheat bread. Hamburger buns may be flavored with added ingredients like sweeteners, contain sesame seeds that can cause health problems for some dogs, or cause obesity if fed often. If you are preparing a burger for your dog, leave out the bread.

The Lettuce

Image Credit: Jef Wright, Unsplash

Dogs can have lettuce, but only certain varieties. Romaine and iceberg are the two most popular for hamburgers, so you should be safe adding a piece to your dog’s burger. While lettuce won’t provide them with many nutrients, it could provide extra fiber and a fun crunch. Many dogs love the crunch! However, you should limit their intake of lettuce as it can cause stomach upset in large quantities.

The Tomato

sliced tomatoes
Image Credit: Beverly Buckley, Pixabay

While canned tomatoes and jarred pasta sauces are harmful to dogs, the sliced, fresh tomatoes added to a hamburger are typically safe. However, they should be ripe. Green tomatoes contain chemicals that can cause serious side effects in some dogs, even though it’s rare. It won’t hurt to add one or two to their burger if those tomato slices are ripe and they aren’t allergic.

The Onions

sliced onions
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Onions are toxic to dogs and should be avoided in all forms. Onions are dangerous whether they are added to the hamburger patty as a seasoning or sliced up as a topping. A compound in onions called N-propyl disulfide causes red blood cells to break down, causing severe anemia that can eventually lead to organ failure or worse. You should keep the onions away from all pets when cooking or grilling to avoid accidental ingestion.

The Condiments

ketchup, mustard, ranch and mayonnaise in glass bowls
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

Ketchup has dangerous seasonings, mayo is high in fat, and even a tiny amount of mustard can cause severe gastroenteritis. These are the most common hamburger condiments, but it’s safe to say that many others could also be dangerous for pets. When in doubt about the safety of something your dog has eaten, contact your veterinarian.



Your pup doesn’t need a gourmet burger, but a plain burger every now and then is safe for most dogs. Dogs can eat many of the essential components of a hamburger however they are not ideal. If you see that they have eaten some of the more concerning ingredients then contact your vet. If you are making their hamburger with simple and limited ingredients as a special treat, you can do this once in a while.

Featured Image Credit: JRMartins, Pixabay

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