Can Dogs Eat Meatballs? Are They Healthy?

Last Updated on 11/17/2021 by Veronica Jones

Pet parents often want to serve up some indulgent and delicious meals to their pets just like other members of the family. But sometimes giving a dog human food can do more harm than good.

Spaghetti and meatballs is one of those comforting dishes that everyone loves to eat. Your pup may even lick his lips at the sight and smell.

So next time you have meatballs, is serving a bowl to your pup a good idea? Let’s find out.

Can dogs eat meatballs?

Yes, dogs can eat meatballs but not just any meatball. The majority of store-bought meatballs will contain toxic ingredients such as onion and garlic and should not be consumed by canines. If you want to give your pup meatballs, it’s best to make them yourself.

Ingredients in meatballs that dogs can/can’t eat.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients in meatballs that may affect dogs.

Can dogs eat meatballs?

Ingredients that are safe in moderation:

Meat – it’s no secret that dogs love meat. Thoroughly cooked, unseasoned lean meat is safe for dogs to consume and is an excellent source of protein. Beef contains essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that contribute to healthy muscles, joints, skin and coat.

breadcrumbs – dogs can enjoy bread or breadcrumbs as part of a balanced diet. When making breadcrumbs for your pup, choose a bread that is low in sugar and salt. 

Cheese – small amounts of cheese won’t harm canines, as long as they are not lactose intolerant. Cheese is high in fat and calories so too much can contribute to obesity. 

Eggs – the nutrients and protein in eggs can help ensure your dog gets all of the nutrition he needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Too many eggs can lead to weight gain, so it’s best to ask your vet how many you should add to your pup’s diet.

Ingredients that are safe in moderation

Harmful ingredients that should be avoided:

Garlic and onion – as part of the allium family, garlic and onion are toxic for dogs. Thiosulfate in garlic and garlic powder can damage the red blood cells in a dog’s body, causing anemia. A compound called n-propyl disulfide is present in onions that can cause red blood cells to break down.

Black pepper – your pup won’t like spicy foods or spices. Giving your pooch black pepper can cause an upset stomach and nausea.

Salt – dogs only need tiny amounts of salt in their diet. Too much salt can lead to salt poisoning, causing vomiting, diarrhea and in extreme cases even death.

Harmful ingredients that should be avoided

How about turkey meatballs?

Leftover turkey is a great source of lean protein for dogs and can be made into dog-friendly meatballs for a tasty treat for your pet. Remember not to add any seasoning or onion and garlic to your pup’s turkey meatballs as this can make him sick. Lamb and chicken also make pup-safe choices of meat for meatballs.

Are dogs allowed to eat spaghetti?

Can dogs eat spaghetti? Plain, cooked spaghetti is not toxic to dogs, however it’s not recommended as part of a healthy, balanced diet either. Avoid adding salt or sauce to spaghetti that you serve to your pooch because they contain harmful ingredients that shouldn’t be consumed by canines. Avoid regularly giving your pup large bowls of pasta or spaghetti as they are a carbohydrate, which can lead to weight gain in dogs.

Are dogs allowed to eat spaghetti?

Can dogs have meatball sauce?

The majority of pre-made meatball sauces will contain toxic ingredients such as onion, garlic and spices. Meatball sauce often contains high levels of sodium, which can cause a dog to become dehydrated and even lead to salt poisoning if a lot is consumed. Symptoms of salt poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and seizures. You should contact your vet immediately if you think your dog has consumed excessive amounts of salt.

Tomato sauce often contains tomato stems, leaves and unripe tomatoes which contain tomatine. Tomatine is very dangerous to canines

So, unless you make your own sauce and avoid anything that may harm your pet, it’s best to leave out the meatball sauce.

How to make dog-friendly meatballs

When it comes to making meatballs for your furry friend, less is more and they shouldn’t be a substitute for dog food. Follow this simple recipe and get peace of mind that they won’t make your dog sick like store-bought meatballs might. You can replace the beef mince with either chicken or lamb.


• Lean beef mince (1 pound)
• Cooked brown rice (a cup) or rolled oats
• Carrot (1)
• Spinach (finely chopped)
• Grated cheese (2 tablespoons)
• Egg (1)


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Pour the mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or baking sheet then transfer into a muffin tin.
4. Cook in the oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
5. Cover with non stick aluminum foil and leave to cool completely before serving to your pup.

How to make dog-friendly meatballs

How to serve meatballs to your pup

The main thing to remember when giving your dog meatballs and spaghetti is to only give it in small amounts and make sure no harmful ingredients are present.

1. Cook the meatballs and spaghetti thoroughly.
2. Cut the food up into small, bite-size pieces to prevent a choking hazard.
3. Let it cool before serving it to your pup in his usual bowl.

Dogs and meatballs

The good news is that you can enjoy sharing a tasty bowl of spaghetti and meatballs with your pooch, as long as it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients. As with all foods, too much of something can be bad for a dog’s health, so only give your pet meatballs occasionally and in small amounts.

Looking for More Great Articles About What Your Dog Can (or Can’t) Eat?

Reference list

  1. Purina “can dogs eat pasta” Accessed 19th October 2021
  2. AKC “can dogs eat turkey” Accessed 19th October 2021
  3. AKC “Can dogs eat tomatoes” Accessed 19th October 2021

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