Offering your furry companion a bit of whatever it is you’re having for dinner is such a natural thing to do and yet most pet owners are well aware most human foods aren’t good for their dogs.
Not all of them, obviously, which brings us to the question of ravioli.
Can a dog eat ravioli? After all, it’s pasta and this should be ok, isn’t it?
With ravioli, it’s not the pasta itself you should worry about, but the other ingredients you’ll find in a can of ravioli.
In this article, we’ll examine exactly what goes into a can of ravioli with various fillings.
What are the ingredients in a can of beef ravioli?
Beef ravioli is by far the most popular type on the market. When you open a can of ravioli you have a ready meal, which fills the belly quickly and tastes delicious.
Since it contains meat, your dog would love it, too, only it’s not exactly healthy for your pooch. Let’s have a look at the main ingredients of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli, one of the most popular pasta brands.
Plain pasta is OK for dogs, since it’s just wheat, water and sometimes eggs. At least that’s what pasta is if you make it yourself. If you have a look at a famous ravioli brand, you’ll notice that on the label it says enriched wheat flour.
In theory, this sounds wonderful as this type of flour is enriched with various vitamins. The truth is this enriched type of flour is made by removing the bran and the germ from the wheat plant.
These are rich in fiber, protein and other nutrients your body needs, but since they have a lower shelf-life, in the food industry they prefer to discard them and use only the endosperm, which is less nutritious. To disguise that, they just add a few vitamins and market it as a healthy food
Since the pasta part accounts for most of the calories, let’s just mention that a 246g can of ravioli provides 220 calories.
Canines adore meat and since they’re supposed to eat just that, beef shouldn’t be a problem. As a matter of fact, many brands of dog food contain beef.
Chicken, turkey and lean beef are considered the healthiest types of meat for dogs. Now, on the label it doesn’t say anything about lean beef and, frankly, at that price you cannot expect that it’s prime quality cuts they ground for the ravioli fillings.
Still, it probably has enough proteins to qualify as suitable for dogs.
Ripe tomatoes are perfectly OK for dogs and they’re a good source of vitamins. Tomatoes should be fed in moderation, as an occasional treat.
You may have heard that dogs can get tomatine poisoning, but that’s only when they consume the green parts of the tomato plant which contains a dangerous ingredient called solanine, and consume those in large amounts.
Crackermeal is an ingredient to be found in many types of food, where it is used instead of breadcrumbs. If you look at the ravioli label, you’ll discover that it’s made with the enriched wheat flour mentioned above and bleached flour, which doesn’t sound very appetizing. The sad truth is you’ve probably consumed tons of this bleached flour without knowing it.
Bleached flour is highly-processed and once again made with the less nutritious part of the wheat plant, the endosperm. The flour is bleached with various chemicals to speed the ageing process and to give the end product a soft texture and improve its baking qualities.
According to manufacturers, bleached flour has the same nutritional value as unbleached flour. Technically, it shouldn’t be dangerous to humans or dogs, if you can get over the bleaching part that is.
Are any of the ingredients toxic to dogs?
Since we’re talking about a commercial product you shouldn’t even ask this question as you already know the answer. Yes, there are some ingredients that are quite dangerous for dogs.
This should come as no surprise, there’s plenty of salt in that yummy ravioli can. According to the label, one human-sized serving of 246 grams contains 750 mg of salt. That’s 31% of the daily recommended value for the average adult.
To understand what this means for your dog, just have a look at him. How much does he weigh? That amount of salt is dangerous for a German Shepherd, let alone a mid-size dog or a toy Chihuahua.
Bottom line, there’s no way you should give a whole can of ravioli to your pet if you don’t want to poison him.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
This is a very popular sweetener. And also very cheap and dangerous for dogs. As the name says, it’s high in fructose, which is the worst type of sugar there is.
Fructose is more heavy on the liver than both glucose and sucrose. Consumed in high quantities it can cause liver damage.
To be fair, there’s not much HFCS in a can of ravioli, as it’s listed among the less than 2% ingredients. It’s not going to kill your dog, but it’s not healthy either.
Textured Vegetable Protein
This mysterious-sounding ingredient is basically soy. It’s a meat substitute, popular among vegans and it’s said to be rich in fiber and protein. As a matter of fact, you’ll find soy in many pet foods so it should not be toxic for your dog.
On the other hand, it’s highly probably that the soy used in such products is the genetically-modified type and this might pose serious health risks both to you and your beloved pet.
You’ve probably heard that onion and garlic are dangerous for pets, and indeed they can be quite toxic. On the other hand, your dog should consume a large quantity of onions for it to be dangerous.
For instance, a mid-size 30lb dog would need to eat 2.5 oz (70g) of onion or garlic to feel any harmful effects. You won’t find nowhere near as much onion in a can of ravioli, so that shouldn’t be your main worry.
Can dogs eat other types of ravioli?
If you’re thinking about cheese ravioli, for instance, it’s in no way better than the beef version.
Surprisingly, cheese ravioli has less salt than beef ravioli, but it’s sodium content is still sky-high for a dog. Cheese in itself is good for an occasional treat, as it’s rich in calcium and other minerals. Cheese ravioli also contains all of the doubtful ingredients mentioned above, minus beef, of course.
Nor should you bother with the cheese and mushroom ravioli variety. According to experts, all the mushrooms that are edible for humans are safe for dogs.
Spinach ravioli aren’t such a great idea since there’s a lot of controversy around spinach and whether or not it’s good for dogs. On the one hand, spinach is a good source of iron, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B and C. On the other hand, spinach contains oxalic acid, which is said to cause kidney damage in dogs. Obviously, the dog would have to eat a huge quantity of spinach to be in any real danger.
Is it OK to feed your dog pasta?
Good pasta made with whole-wheat flour is in no way dangerous to dogs, so yes you might let your dogs play Lady and the Tramp with a bowl of spaghetti. Just make it a very small bowl and only serve it occasionally.
The problem with feeding your pet pasta is that it leads to weight gain. If your dog is prone to obesity, you should refrain from giving him pasta of any kind.
Even if you’re a big pasta fan, you shouldn’t share your meal with your dog every day, and not only because it has too many calories, but also because it lacks the protein your pet needs.
What is the best dog-friendly pasta dish?
Want to bring some variation into your dog’s diet? You can try to prepare some very yummy pasta for him. Something with plenty of meat and a small amount of pasta, even spaghetti if you really want to recreate that iconic movie scene.
Here’s a great recipe for a chicken and spaghetti dish. You can prepare a large quantity, divide it into smaller portions and store it in the freezer to serve as an occasional treat.
Since it’s based on boiled chicken and you can add what vegetables you want, it’s almost a soup. If you go easy on the pasta, that is.
So, can dogs eat ravioli?
If you drop a bit of canned ravioli on the floor and your dog licks it up in an instant, don’t worry about it. It’s as safe as canned foods can be and none of the potentially dangerous ingredients will be in a big enough quantity to pose any risk. In a pinch, yes, you can add a bit of ravioli to your dog’s regular diet, especially if he’s a picky eater.
However, this should be the exception rather than the rule. Like all canned foods, ravioli of any kind have too much salt for your dog, not to mention other highly-processed ingredients.
There is also the option to try homemade ravioli, although that’s a bit more difficult to make and requires some skills. However, if you make your own pasta and add some real meat, it would make a lovely treat for your pet.