Health & Wellness
The backyard's bustling with your favorite people (and pets!), and the grill is sizzling. So what's the star of the menu? A summertime favorite: hamburgers. If this sounds like your ideal summer meal, you'll want to read on before passing your pup a bite of hamburger.
“In general, ground beef is safe for most dogs to eat. However, dogs with allergies to beef or those with a gastrointestinal illness may not be able to eat it,” Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, says. “Hamburgers, sandwiches with beef patties and toppings, are not generally recommended for dogs.”
(Even though ground beef is usually safe for dogs, you should always consult your vet before introducing new foods to your pet’s diet.)
Ground beef can be a source of protein for pups, which fuels their energy for several rounds of fetch, Dr. McCullough explains. However, serve this snack in small portions. Treats (including unseasoned ground beef) shouldn't make up more than 10% of your dog's calorie intake.
This protein is often higher in fat and salt, unlike other protein sources like turkey or chicken, so it's not always the best option to reach for. Too much salt or fat can cause your pet to have an upset stomach or become obese and may not be suitable for pups with chronic illnesses.
Always talk to your veterinarian before introducing your dog to a new food, like ground beef. Dr. McCullough says if your vet gives you the OK to serve, the best way to prepare ground beef is by boiling it. Skip adding salt, seasonings (like garlic or onion seasonings, which is toxic for dogs) or fat when cooking ground beef for your dog.
When preparing this snack for pups, cooked ground beef is best.
“Raw hamburger is not generally recommended because of the risk of foodborne illness caused by bacterial contamination,” Dr. McCullough says.
If you turn your back on your drooling pup for 2 seconds, and they’ve managed to grab a bite of raw beef, watch out for signs of an upset stomach. Contact your veterinarian if your pup starts vomiting or having diarrhea.
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Part of the reason dogs can't have traditional hamburgers (think: the ground beef plus the bun and cheese) is that the snack, as a whole, is too many calories for dogs' daily diets, Dr. McCullough explains.
Bread, on its own, is generally safe for dogs to eat (unless they have a wheat allergy). But, this staple is high in carbohydrates, which could cause your dog to have an upset stomach. On the other hand, cheese (in moderation) is usually OK for pups to enjoy but is high in fat and sodium, which can lead to weight gain, obesity and pancreatitis.
Ground beef is usually OK for dogs but should be served in smaller portions, Dr. McCullough says. Also, keep it plain and simple when serving this food and avoid buns, cheese, salt, seasonings and fat.
We’re confident ground beef isn’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series “Can dogs eat ... ?” to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what’s fair game.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.