Can Dogs Have Bisto Gravy?

Can dogs have Bisto gravy

If you are anything like me, then you can’t stand food waste.

Which can lead to some agonising decisions at the end of some dinner times.

I mean any veg that is left on a plate is given to the dogs- that is a “no brainer.”

But what about other leftovers?

One of the ones I struggle with the most is gravy.

And here is a post that explores whether dogs should eat gravy?

But there are lots of you who want to know more about how dog friendly Bisto gravy is.

And so here we go!

  1. What is Bisto gravy?
    1. Where did Bisto originate?
    2. Are there any other Bisto gravies?
  2. What are the ingredients of Bisto Gravy?
  3. Why might Bisto gravy be unhealthy for dogs?
    1. Salt 
    2. Wheat starch
    3. Onion powder and E numbers
  4. Why might Bisto gravy benefit dogs?
    1. Potato starch
    2. Inactive yeast powder
  5. What is the nutrition in Bisto Gravy?
  6. Are Oxo beef cubes any better?
  7. Is Bovril beef extract any better?
  8. Can dogs eat “real” gravy?
  9. How does dog gravy differ from Bisto gravy?
  10. Other ways of making kibble appetising
  11. Can dogs eat Bisto gravy?

What is Bisto gravy?

Gravy is a hot sauce consisting of fat and juices from meat, which is mixed with stock and often thickened with wheat flour for added texture. Nowadays, Bisto gravy comes in two formats.

The more modern, quick and easy Bisto gravy is a pot of granules you mix with hot water to produce a delicious gravy. The original gravy powder, still very popular today, is a powder you mix with cold water to form a paste; more cold water is then slowly added (along with optional meat juices) and gently simmered after bringing to a boil. 

Where did Bisto originate?

The first Bisto gravy powder was produced in 1908 and quickly became a bestseller in the UK. It was added to gravies to thicken them and make the complex process of making gravy shorter.

Two British gentlemen, Mr Roberts and Mr Patterson, were persuaded by their wives to create a product that would guarantee perfect gravy. The result was Bisto, named this way because it “Browns, Seasons and Thickens in One”. 

Are there any other Bisto gravies?

As well as the traditional gravy granules, other delicious flavours include Beef, Chicken, Onion, Turkey and Vegetable. Both the Beef and Chicken are now also available with 25% less salt.

The newer Bisto Best, which comes with real meat juices, is available in the following delicious flavours: Beef, Chicken, Caramelised Onion, Lamb, Pork & Vegetable. Here also, both the Beef and Chicken are now available with 25% less salt.

Bisto also offers the Original Gravy Powder from which its name was coined. There is also the Bisto Favourites Gluten-Free Gravy Granules and the Bisto Southern Style Gravy Granules.

Anything else I should know?

Finally, two fun facts about Bisto:

  • The tagline for Bisto is Ahh! Bisto. The Nation’s Favourite.
  • Bobby Moore was featured in the first colour advert for Bisto gravy in 1969.

What are the ingredients of Bisto Gravy?

Let’s keep it simple.

The Bisto Original Gravy Powder contains six ingredients: Potato Starch, Salt, Wheat Starch, Colour (Ammonia Caramel or E150c), Onion Powder and Inactive Yeast Powder (contains Barley and Wheat)

These are the traditional main ingredients of Bisto gravy, however, other varieties contain Maltodextrin, Palm Fat, along with any appropriate flavourings (such as Smoked Paprika or Ground Black Pepper)

Why might Bisto gravy be unhealthy for dogs?

You may be wondering what exactly Bisto gravy contains to make it unhealthy for dogs. Well, let’s have a look at the ingredients.


Salt is safe in very low moderation but too much can make them seriously ill. Dogs can develop sodium poisoning, which can be fatal.

Wheat starch

This can be safe but watch out for wheat allergies.

Onion powder and E numbers

Like salt, both are safe in very low moderation but too much can make them seriously ill.

Whilst dogs can eat (or rather, lick!) gravy, just be aware of the portion size. High levels of salt can lead to sodium poisoning, while excessive fat intake can lead to obesity or acute pancreatitis.

Onion powder contains n-propyl disulphide, which is toxic to dogs. The compound causes a breakdown in red blood cells, leading to anaemia.

Bisto also contains saturated fats and unhealthy carbohydrates, which can cause an upset stomach. Long-term, this can affect a dog’s heart health or cause acute pancreatitis.

Why might Bisto gravy benefit dogs?

Surely there must be some benefits for dogs? The good news is there definitely are.

Although some ingredients can offer small benefits, it’s not the best nutritional choice for a dog. Rather, just enjoy how much they adore licking gravy from your dishwasher or smothering it all over their dry dog food! 

However, that being said, there are still nutritional benefits in two ingredients in particular.

Potato starch

Potato starch is actually a good source of starch for dogs, but especially puppies. It helps to improve the digestibility of dietary nutrients.

Inactive yeast powder

Inactive yeast has many benefits for dogs. It has great protein and vitamin B content and also may help to reduce faecal E. Coli count.

It’s good to note that like us humans, dogs actually do need salt in their diet. Just not too much. 

The perfect amount of salt has many benefits: it’s good for hydration, promotes good vascular health and prevents cramping. 

What is the nutrition in Bisto Gravy?

Despite the long list of ingredients, there is not much nutritional value to Bisto gravy.

The gravy contains negligible amounts of fat, saturates and sugars (less than 1%). However, it does contain a high salt allowance per 100ml (0.62g). The guidelines for humans are around 6g of salt per day, while dogs suffer toxicosis if they consume 2–3 g/kg.

Are Oxo beef cubes any better?

If Bisto gravy can be tolerated in small doses, how about Oxo beef cubes? These are similar to gravy in that they are delicious for your dog, however, they do have the same warning signs. Although the below ingredients are in small quantities, you must still be careful.

The main ingredients of Oxo beef cubes are: Wheat Flour, Salt, Maize Starch, Yeast Extract, Flavour Enhancers (including MSG), Beef Fat (4.5%), Sugar and Onion Powder.

Of course, most dogs love the flavour of beef fat! However, just be mindful of a product containing sugar, which can contribute to diabetes in dogs. 

Watch out too for onion powder. Whilst the Oxo contains only a small amount of onion powder, it is still present and can be toxic for dogs. 

There is actually a sizeable amount of salt in the cubes; in fact, 16% per 100ml. Oxo beef cubes also contribute very small amounts of nutrition.

Is Bovril beef extract any better?

Bovril beef extract sounds much more suited to dogs. But is that the case?

Dogs cannot consume Bovril, largely due to its extremely high salt content. Bovril also contains harmful ingredients to dogs, such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and onion. MSG can cause seizures in dogs and onion can cause anaemia, as well as toxicity.

If already being served to your dog, just make sure it’s in very small doses. Some owners give them a tiny amount as an incentive to enhance dry dog food your pooch may not normally touch. This could be a trick to get them to eat healthily! 

However, if possible, try to wean your dog off Bovril and replace this with a tailor-made dog gravy.

The main Bovril beef extract ingredients are as follows: Salt, Flavour Enhancers (including MSG), Sugar, Potato Starch, Beef broth (4.5%), Onion Juice Concentrate and Sunflower Oil. 

Can dogs eat “real” gravy?

So how about real gravy? As tempting as it is, it’s best to help your dog avoid gravy full stop. This is mainly due to the high levels of salt and fat, which can cause sodium poisoning and obesity. 

Gravy also contains onions and garlic, which can be toxic for dogs, as well as increase the risk of anaemia. 

How does dog gravy differ from Bisto gravy?

You may have seen dog gravy being advertised recently. It’s perfectly natural to wonder what exactly the difference is here – surely all gravy is bad then?

The obvious benefit of dog gravy products is that they’re perfectly tailored for pooches’ diets, as well as avoiding their sensitivities and allergies. They’re made from minimally processed whole foods with a distinct lack of obscure ingredients.

The Honest Kitchen produce a natural dog gravy with only the following Ingredients: Chicken Bone Broth, Chicken, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Tapioca, Thyme and Sage.

SuperGravy Paw Jus also have a specially designed Artisan dog gravy crafted from whole foods and specifically targeted at dog health. Noticeable is the presence of ingredients such as dried spinach and flaxseed in the place of E-numbers, artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives.

Dog gravy contains taurine, which helps with heart function, as well as brain and eye health.

Ingredients such as beef and carrots are also far better sources of protein than inactive yeast powder.

Dog gravy also contains absolutely no MSG, onion, salt, gravy or E-numbers.

Other ways of making kibble appetising

Have you ever given your dog small amounts of gravy to add to kibble to enhance the flavour?

If so, you may be wondering how you can get your dog to quit gravy AND finish their kibble?

Thankfully though, that’s not the only way!

Not only can you improve the flavour, but you can also use this as an opportunity to get secret vitamins or nutrients into your dog’s body without them knowing! 

It’s suggested to apply the ‘50% rule’ here’ by providing a 50:50 ratio of kibble to fresh, wholesome vegetables. As you try to move your dog away from carbohydrates and fats, replace the gravy with as much fresh food as possible.

Digestive enzymes are a good choice to sprinkle on a dog’s food. These are supplements which contain live probiotics and promote both good health and digestibility.

You can also purchase meal toppers in the form of steamed vegetables, which can be grated or blended so your dog doesn’t notice.

Can dogs eat Bisto gravy?

So after all that, what is the answer? Can dogs eat Bisto gravy?

Generally, it’s best for dogs to avoid Bisto gravy, due to the potential health risks.

Whilst your dog may enjoy gravy on your Sunday roast dinner leftovers, just be aware that it can only be allowed in small doses. 

As long as your dog avoids overeating, they will likely not be vulnerable to sodium poisoning. However, salt and fat will provide short and long-term health consequences, such as toxicity, obesity or acute pancreatitis. 

The presence of onion powder and E-numbers can also be toxic to dogs. 

Bisto can provide some healthy nutrients for your dog. Potato starch has the benefit of aiding digestion, whilst inactive yeast powder can be a useful protein and vitamin B source. However, due to the risk of other ingredients, it’s best to source these nutrients elsewhere.

The great news is you can make your own dog gravy, which will be twice as tasty – in part because they can have as much as they like!

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!