Meatballs are perhaps one of the most widely eaten and adored foods in the world.
Easy to make, affordable, and ubiquitous, meatballs are an important piece of many traditional cuisines around the world.
Despite the common misconception that meatballs come from Italy, we can assure you that’s not the case at all.
In fact, no one knows where the first meatball came from. All we know is that throughout the years these delicious treats have become an essential part of many meals.
After all, can you imagine Italian pasta without meatballs?
However, if you look at meatballs from a dog owner’s perspective you might not be sure whether or not they’re safe for your puppy.
Some meatball recipes include ingredients that can be harmful to your pet’s health such as onions.
That’s why the answer to the question “Can dogs eat meatballs?” is both yes and no.
In this article, we are going to go over some of the reasons why a meatball can be harmful to your dog and we will provide you with some pet-safe meatball recipes so your pup can enjoy the taste as well.
What are the ingredients of meatballs?
A meatball is ground meat rolled into a small ball, sometimes along with other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, minced onion, eggs, butter, and seasoning.
Meatballs are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce.
And while this is the general rule, meatballs vary in recipe throughout the world.
For example, one of the most popular meatball recipes in the world – the Subway Marinara meatballs, contains Romano cheese which can’t be found in other recipes.
And did you also know that Ikea’s famous Scandinavian meatballs have Dijon mustard in them?
The diversity of meatballs makes them vary greatly from one meatball to another but generally, you would expect a meatball’s ingredients to include eggs, bread, onion, and some type of seasonings like salt and pepper.
Are meatballs toxic to dogs?
The short answer is no.
Dogs can eat meatballs, but you shouldn’t just give them any old meatballs off your plate without checking the ingredients first.
There are some ingredients in meatball recipes that are not healthy for your pet such as onions and garlic which are commonly present in most recipes.
According to the American Kennel Club, N-propyl disulfide is the reason that onions and garlic are unsafe for dogs.
It causes a breakdown of red blood cells and can result in anemia.
They also note that onion or garlic powder is even more potent and should be avoided.
If possible, it’s best to make your dog homemade meatballs rather than feed your dog processed, store-bought ones.
Recipes designed specifically for dogs will be balanced and not contain dangerous levels of sodium or other ingredients that can potentially harm your dog.
Can dogs eat Subway meatballs?
Subway is one of the best-known fast-food brands along with giants like Taco Bell or McDonald’s.
And while Subway is a leading brand in the industry and their food is completely safe for humans, we can’t say the same for dogs.
Even without adding any sauces or toppings to your Subway, the official recipe for these famous meatballs includes both dehydrated onions and garlic powder which are toxic to dogs.
A Subway meatball doesn’t contain enough N-propyl disulfide to kill your dog but it can for sure make it sick.
So if your pup happens to steal one of your Subway meatballs while you’re not looking, keep calm. It’s not fatal.
However, we wouldn’t recommend feeding meatballs to your dog.
Why should you not feed Ikea’s Swedish meatballs to your dog?
Ikea recently gave away the recipe for its iconic Swedish meatballs to help people get through their time at home during the coronavirus pandemic — and you don’t need an Allen key to put them together yourself.
The Swedish furniture retailer published the recipe for its meatballs and gravy on Monday so fans of the iconic morsels can enjoy them even while Ikea stores remain closed due to the COVID-19 threat.
So are they safe for dogs?
The traditional Swedish meatball contains both garlic and onion which are not great for a puppy’s health as they can cause a breakdown of blood cells and ultimately anemia.
So it’s maybe best if you keep the Ikea meatballs for your human friends and stick to more balanced recipes for your dogs.
Are there dog-friendly meatball recipes?
Yes! Making homemade meatballs for your dog is simple.
Recipes found online use healthy, human-grade ingredients so you know exactly what is going into your pup’s tasty treat.
Most recipes are so easy you just mix all the ingredients and cook them.
Here is a great dog-friendly meatball recipe:
- 1 lb ground beef/pork/chicken
- 1 egg
- 2 oz low-fat yogurt
- 1 tbsp nutritional supplement (optional)
- 1 1,000 mcg fish oil
1. Break up ground beef and put it into a bowl.
2. Crack an egg and mix into meat mixture
3. Add supplements
4. Bake or fry meatballs in a skillet.
Note: You can also add chopped parsley and other herbs that are healthy for dogs (e.g. oregano, parsley, or basil) to give more flavor and nutritional benefits. Although supplements are necessary, this recipe is an easy way to get your dog to take any supplements they need.
What is the nutrition in a meatball?
Considering meatballs generally contain meat, bread, and eggs their nutritional value is pretty great for both humans and dogs (if you don’t add garlic or onions, of course).
The average meatball can supply you and your dog with proteins, fats, carbs, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, and even vitamin c and a. It is not enough on its own to provide a dog with all its needed nutrients, but it can make for a good meal from time to time. Just make sure to not add any toxic ingredients such as onions or garlic.
Help! My dog ate a meatball with onion
The first thing to do is not panic. Onions are indeed toxic to dogs but one meatball is unlikely to do any serious harm to your dog.
However, we recommend taking your dog immediately to the vet if it consumes onions just to be sure.
The vet will assess the situation and do the best thing for your pet. In the case of an accidental onion meatball, we can assume that there is going to be mild exposure to n-sulfide which means your pup might be sick for a while but will recover.
But if there’s a more serious case of poisoning, it can become fatal. Especially if untreated.
Here are the main symptoms of onion poisoning in dogs:
- The smell of onions or garlic on the breath
- Excessive salivation
- Irritation of the mouth
- Signs of abdominal pain
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- Panting (tachypnea)
- Exercise intolerance
- Pale or bluish gums
If the poisoning is still recent, vomiting may be induced and the dog may be given activated charcoal to reduce absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
The veterinarian will tell you to monitor your dog for signs of anemia over the next few days and may recommend a diet low in oxidants.
If a large amount has been ingested, your dog may need to be kept in a veterinary hospital for that time.
Severely ill dogs will likely need supplemental oxygen to make up for the reduced circulation of red blood cells and a blood transfusion could be necessary to stabilize your dog until the bone marrow can generate enough new, healthy erythrocytes.
Can dogs eat frozen meatballs?
Again, it depends on the recipe. As long as it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients such as garlic or onions, you should be good. Just make sure to always check the ingredients.
Can dogs eat raw meatballs?
Yes, dogs can eat raw meatballs.
Should dogs eat raw meat, though?
Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, a Purina veterinarian, says feeding a diet consisting primarily of raw meat may not provide the complete and balanced nutrition your dog needs.
“This is especially true in rapidly growing and developing puppies,” she says. “Their dietary needs are quite complex. The same is true for senior dogs who may have a weaker immune system and more sensitive digestive systems.”
Properly cooking meat and carbohydrates (like we do with our dog foods) can make the food more digestible. When foods are easily digested, “dogs can use more of the nutrients more effectively for producing energy, building muscles, and supporting their immune systems,” Dr. Lobos adds.
So yes, you can feed your dog raw meatballs but it would be better for your pet if you didn’t.
Can dogs eat meatballs?
Meatballs are great. We love them on pasta, in our Subway footlong and Ikea. Those delicious treats can make any meal better and people have been making them for centuries. Although we don’t know who made the first meatball, we would like to congratulate them for their creation on behalf of the whole world.
When it comes to dogs, they can enjoy the widely known treats as well but with a little more caution. Some ingredients in traditional recipes can harm your puppy but if you’re careful, both you and your pet can have meatballs as a part of your diet.