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Can Dogs Eat Meatloaf? Vet-Approved Facts & Healthy Diet Tips


Jun 11, 2023
homemade meatloaf on a chopping board


homemade meatloaf on a chopping board
Dr. Athena Gaffud Photo

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

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Meatloaf is a household staple in the United States. You can prepare this ground meat mixture in several ways that are delicious and satisfying. It’s loaded with protein, easy to make, and smells heavenly when you pull it from the oven. Given its delicious taste, it’s no wonder your dog looks on with envy when you prepare meatloaf.

After all, some ground meat can be nutritious for your dog, but should you let your dog eat meatloaf? Unfortunately, we cannot answer this question with a simple yes or no because it depends on the ingredients you use.divider-paw

Should Dogs Eat Meatloaf?

A plain bite of meatloaf with no seasonings should be acceptable and safe for your dog to eat. The potential harm lies within what seasonings and spices you use, as some are harmful and even toxic to your dog. Let’s face it—no human likes plain meatloaf with no spices or seasonings, so if you want to share it with your dog, you’ll need to ensure the ingredients used are safe.

What Meatloaf Ingredients Are Harmful to Dogs?

Now that we know certain ingredients are off-limits to dogs, let’s check out exactly what those ingredients are so you can refrain from adding them to your meatloaf if you want to share it with your dog.

  • Garlic: Garlic is not safe for dogs, even in small amounts. Garlic is part of the allium family and contains thiosulfate, a type of compound that causes oxidative damage to red blood cells, which can result in anemia. Garlic toxicity signs are diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Some dogs are especially sensitive to garlic, and it only takes 15 to 30 grams per kilogram of body weight to cause harmful effects. To put it in perspective, a clove from the supermarket averages 3 to 7 grams. If your dog ingests a small amount, it may cause no problems, but it’s best to avoid it.
  • Onion: Most meatloaf recipes call for both garlic and onion, both of which are harmful to dogs. Like garlic, onions are part of the allium family, making them toxic to our canine fur babies.
  • Salt: Dogs can have a very small amount of salt, but too much can cause salt toxicity. Commercial dog food contains the correct amount of salt for your dog’s diet, but going over this means running the risk of increased blood pressure from an increased fluid load.
vet examining a sick German Shepherd dog
Image Credit: Roger costa morera, Shutterstock

Can I Make a Dog-Friendly Meatloaf?

Yes! Meatloaf can be a tasty treat for your dog, but it needs to be made with safe ingredients. You can always make a separate meatloaf for your dog apart from your own—that way, you can still enjoy your meatloaf and still share a dog-friendly recipe meatloaf with your canine.

Regarding meat, you can use ground chicken, ground beef, or ground lamb for your dog-friendly meatloaf. To give you an idea, here’s a recipe from the famous dog whisperer Cesar Millan.

  • 4 pounds lean ground turkey (can substitute lamb or beef)
  • ½ pound organic beef or chicken liver, rinsed and diced (very nutritious for dogs!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups steamed carrots, pureed
  • 2 cups steamed potatoes, pureed
  • 2 cups steamed green beans, pureed


  • Preheat oven to 375° F
  • Combine all ingredients and divide into four sections and place mixture into 8 X 4 2 ½ inch loaf pans
  • Bake for 1 hour
  • Drain grease
  • Cool and place in refrigerator

This recipe makes one week’s worth of meatloaf. Double-wrap the remaining meatloaf in aluminum foil or a Ziploc bag. You can freeze the remaining mixture for up to 6 months.

person preparing classic meatloaf in pan lined with parchment
Image Credit: Arina P Habich, Shutterstock

Tips for a Healthy Diet for Your Dog

As stated, certain seasonings and spices are harmful or even toxic to your dog. Commercial dog food contains all the necessary ingredients for a complete and balanced meal, or you can make homemade dog food.  However, if you choose this route, consult your veterinarian to ensure you are adding all necessary and safe ingredients for your dog, which is essential for your dog’s overall health.

When shopping for commercial dog food, ensure it contains no added artificial flavors or preservatives and that it adheres to AAFCO’s levels of nutrition.


Final Thoughts

Meatloaf is a scrumptious dinner for humans, and if you want to share it with your dog, ensure you make it with safe ingredients. Meatloaf can be nutritious for your dog but only in small amounts. Treats should only account for 10% of your dog’s daily diet, and if you plan to feed your dog meatloaf as a treat, ensure you don’t overdo it. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian for an appropriate amount to feed.

Featured Image Credit: Paul Cowan, Shutterstock

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