Can Dogs Eat Meatballs? Pros And Cons You Should Know

Can Dogs Eat Meatballs? Photo of a dog and a plate with meatballs.

Is your dog giving you that cute puppy dog look while you’re eating a delicious plate of spaghetti and meatballs? But, can dogs eat meatballs? If you’re feeling the pressure, here’s what you need to know on whether you can let your dog eat meatballs alongside you!

In general, dogs can eat meatballs specially prepared for them to ensure that they don’t contain any dangerous ingredients. Most commercially-prepared meatballs have many chemicals, artificial flavors, and more that make them unwise for dogs, and sometimes they are actually dangerous.

Know all about the potential dangers of meatballs, how to avoid them, and how to spot a problem as it happens!

Can dogs eat processed meatballs?

As hinted above, dogs shouldn’t eat processed meatballs at all. The only exception is if you’ve purchased dog-safe meatballs from a baker or specialist that literally makes meatballs for dogs. Many processed meatballs have chemicals and additional ingredients such as preservatives, binders, artificial colors, and flavors.

These kinds of additives are not only going to cause a problem in your dog’s digestive system, but they’re also linked to cancer, diabetes, and more. There is no nutritional value in processed meatballs and a lot of potential health risks.

Can dogs eat meatballs and spaghetti?

While it might be a favorite of ours for delicious reasons, meatballs and spaghetti are not a good combination for your furry friend! The meatballs can be safe in small servings if they are homemade and free from dangerous ingredients, but spaghetti sauce is not good for your dog’s health.

Whether homemade or poured from a jar, spaghetti sauce has no shortage of dangerous ingredients for dogs.

The pasta itself isn’t a good idea for your dog, either, as it’s designed for human digestion and not the sensitive digestive tract of your dog. Since many lace cheese through it, this complicates things further! No matter how you look at it, there is nothing good or safe about spaghetti and meatballs for your dog!

Can dogs eat meatballs in tomato sauce?

Similar to above, dogs shouldn’t eat meatballs in tomato sauce both due to the risks of the meatballs and any ingredients in them, also because tomato sauce is often saturated with dangerous ingredients, as mentioned briefly above, such as:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Acid

As you may already know, garlic and onion are downright dangerous for dogs because it takes a tiny little amount to cause serious, potentially fatal reactions! Salt and sugar are bad for dogs because their bodies are not designed to tolerate them in large portions. Their own natural diets contain very little of either of these.

Acid is also bad for dogs because it can upset their stomach and cause indigestion. Dogs can get indigestion easily and can cause dehydration, which can be fatal if left untreated for too long. Sodium and sugar can worsen dehydration and cause a more dangerous problem, as well!

Are you feeling disheartened? You can learn how to make dog-safe meatballs for dogs. Let’s start by understanding more about the safe and harmful ingredients in meatballs for dogs.

Safe ingredients in meatballs for dogs

There are some excellent values in meatballs for a dog’s diet. They support good health and can help dogs enjoy a better nutrient profile! These positive ingredients include:

  • Lean meat (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, etc.)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Eggs

Lean meat and eggs are low-fat sources of protein and many vitamins and minerals. For dogs looking to round out their health profile, meatballs can offer support in just that. 

Harmful ingredients in meatballs for dogs

There are often many more bad values in meatballs for dogs since meatballs are designed for human tastebuds and preferences! Even when you go with homemade meatballs, which would be free from binders and preservatives, your most basic meatballs would contain:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Cheese

These can cause adverse symptoms in your dog, resulting in very real health risks and problems down the road. If you want to keep your dog safe but still share meatballs, you’ll need to learn how to make dog-safe meatballs! More on that later.

How many meatballs is too many for a dog?

Even dog-safe meatballs will have maximum portioning, just like anything else in the food portioning world! Generally, you can give small dogs up to 1 meatball a week. Larger dog breeds can have up to 2-3 meatballs per week.

If you are using meatballs for weight gain and muscle mass, check with your vet on portioning.

What should I look for if my dog ate meatballs?

When dogs eat non-safe meatballs, some symptoms that could show that your dog is dealing with overloading or a straight reaction to the ingredients in the meatballs. Symptoms of a problem include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Excessive panting

All of these can mean that our dog is dealing with anything from a reaction to the onion or garlic or that they are overloaded with sugar or salt. At the mildest, dogs will have a nasty case of indigestion and dehydration. At the most severe, too many meatballs can be life-threatening.

Are meatballs a good snack for dogs?

So, with those words directly above, are there any good reasons to feed meatballs to dogs? Yes, it turns out! Dog-safe meatballs can offer some great benefits for dogs, including:

  • Weight gain 
  • Muscle growth
  • Dedicated iron source
  • Dedicated Vitamin B6 sources

Lean meats are a good source of complete protein for dogs, so supplementing them responsibly into a dog’s diet can help support weight and muscle growth and offer those iron and vitamin sources that are essential for everything from general health to immune function. Some experts agree that they even help support brain health as your dog ages!

For underweight or malnourished dogs, meatballs are a great choice to help bump their weight up and help strengthen their body. The same goes for dogs going through agility training or advanced training, where they need extra protein and vitamins.

How to prepare and serve meatballs to dogs

So, now that you’ve read all about the potential uses of meatballs, you’ll want to learn how to properly make and then serve meatballs to your dog so that they can enjoy the health benefits with none of the potential drawbacks!

This dog-friendly meatball recipe will help you do just that, walking you through the ingredients to use, tips on cooking, and showing you the step-by-step guide. Whenever you consider making meatballs for your dog, check with a vet first.

After all, allergies and sensitivities are problems with dog health, so you’ll want to ensure that you aren’t feeding your dog anything they shouldn’t have.

Regardless of what recipe you settle on, keep your meatballs pain, lean, and in small amounts. You’ll find that you will like them, too, even if you miss a bit of the seasoning so prominent in human meatballs. Homemade meatballs will be good for your health and that of your dog.

As a tasty snack, homemade dog-friendly meatballs can be a rare treat for your dog to enjoy something different. They offer some health benefits and can be great for malnourished dogs or those who can use some healthy protein and fats. The goal is always to understand how much is too much!

In general

Dogs shouldn’t eat traditional meatballs made for human tastebuds and preferences since they contain binders, preservatives, and excessive salt and sodium. They can also contain onion and garlic, which are toxic to dogs.

Dogs can eat meatballs specially prepared to ensure they don’t contain those unhealthy ingredients. Understand the potential risks of meatballs and how to avoid them for your dog’s general health benefit.

Do you know someone who will want to know how to be an accomplished dog chef? Or someone that may find this information important to help them understand bad habits? Share this with them!

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Sara Santos

Writer, Editor and member of the Council, I am a dog person and I thrive to get the answers that will help you provide the best care a dog can have. You can also find me on my personal blog here.