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Can Dogs Eat Gravy?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Homemade gravy is safe and nutritious for dogs, but commercially available instant gravies are harmful due to high sodium and fat content.
  • A recipe for healthy homemade dog gravy includes ingredients such as coconut oil, lean ground turkey, chicken liver, raw carrots, raw green beans, and water.
  • Leftover gravy can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Avoid using ingredients like wheat flour, sugar, skimmed milk powder, palm oil, potato starch, garlic, and onion powder in dog gravy as they can be harmful.
  • Onions are toxic for dogs and can cause life-threatening anemia, so onion gravy should be avoided.
Written by Khalil
Khalil is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Highly educated researcher and DVM with extensive experience in Clinical VetMedicine, Veterinary Nano Medicine, and Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Monday 28 September 2020
Last updated on
Wednesday 12 July 2023
can dogs eat gravy
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Each festivity is incomplete without you and your pup enjoying some hot tangy gravy slathered with spices and flavor. But can dogs really eat gravy? While homemade gravy is relatively safe and nutritious, instant gravies available commercially are not. In fact, their high sodium and fat content make them harmful.

No pet parent would want to compromise on their good boy’s health. Thus, to answer all of your questions, especially whether or not dogs can eat gravy, we bring you this informative guide!

What Makes Commercial Gravy Harmful for Dogs?

Instant gravy available in the market should not be fed to your pooch. Aside from their high fat and salt contents, they contain many ingredients that are toxic for dogs. Let us inform you about the most common of these ingredients:

1. Wheat Flour

The thick texture of the gravy comes from adding wheat flour. While whole wheat is full of fiber and other nutrients, its processed, husked, and bleached form has no nutritional value.

Flour, like any refined grain, is stripped of all non-carbohydrate elements which makes it very high in calories. It breaks down into glucose when consumed which may cause digestive problems and bloating in dogs. Consumption of wheat flour is also a main cause for inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBD) or dog colitis. IBD or dog colitis is commonly described as diarrhea with large or loose stools. Wheat flour mixed with water gives off a pasty texture. When a dog consumes flour, this paste sticks to the colon wall which makes it unable to absorb nutrients and may cause malnutrition.

Wheat flour also contains gluten, which can be a trigger for allergies in some dogs. These allergies may also develop over time with continued exposure to wheat. Your pooch may be intolerant to grains if it frequently gets ear infections, suffers from skin irritation, or experiences bouts of vomiting or diarrhea. Unchecked allergies in dogs could lead to serious health conditions and even death.

2. Sugar

Some commercial gravies contain sugar, and dogs can’t eat a lot of them. This soluble carbohydrate enhances the taste and serves as a preservative. Sugar is not toxic to dogs, but over time, sugar consumption can cause cavities, weight gain, metabolic conditions, and diabetes.

Weight gain in dogs can cause arthritis. Data on a range of popular dog breeds from across the USA showed that dogs that are overweight in their middle-age have a shorter life expectancy than that of ideal weight dogs. Sugar may also cause cavities that can lead to painful oral infections. Excessive sugar consumption will also raise your dog’s blood sugar too much which may cause diabetes. Symptoms of high blood sugar include but not limited to:

  • Highs & lows – a streak of hyperactivity followed by depression
  • Agitation
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Urinary tract or kidney infection
  • Weight gain

3. Skimmed Milk Powder

Skimmed milk powder is manufactured by evaporating skimmed milk to dryness. It is used as an alternative to fresh milk and adds creaminess and nutrition to the gravy.

Milk in any form can cause food allergies in dogs resulting in redness, itching, and irritated skin. Most dogs are also sensitive to lactose as they lack the necessary enzyme (lactase) to break down the lactose. This can give them a hard time digesting. You can detect their tolerance levels by sounds coming from their tummy. If your pooch is suffering from loose bowels (diarrhea) it is a clear indication of lactose intolerance.

Although skimmed milk powder is a relatively fat-free source of protein, your dog can get plenty of protein and the same amount of nutrients from other, more reliable, sources. We believe your dog’s health isn’t something to gamble with and thus the powder makes commercial gravies harmful.

4. Palm Oil

Dog’s can’t eat gravy if it contains palm oil, which is an edible vegetable oil that is found in almost every dog gravy available in the market for two reasons. Firstly, it is odorless and colorless which means it doesn’t alter the look or smell of it. Secondly, palm oil is also very cheap and easily available everywhere.

Although palm oil is not poisonous to dogs and according to Harvard Health, it has better fatty acid composition than Coconut Oil- it can be dangerous for your pooch.

Some studies state that palm oil causes heart issues. Its laxative effect may cause sickness, diarrhea, dehydration and, in extreme cases, pancreatitis. Some dogs have also shown significant gastrointestinal signs and elevated liver enzymes after the consumption of products containing palm oil. Its semi-solid state may also cause blockages in the gut. Pet parents who are conscious of the environment should also be aware that many trees have to be chopped to create room for palm oil producing trees!

5. Potato Starch

The starch extracted from potatoes is used as a binding agent to thicken and texturize instant dog gravies. While potatoes contain many beneficial nutrients and vitamins, potato starch only contains starch which is high in carbohydrates.

Unlike us humans, our canine friend doesn’t need carbohydrates to function properly. fats alone fulfill their heat and energy requirements. Large amounts of starchy carbohydrate would thus benefit less and cause problems like obesity and insulin resistance and some dogs are prone to Type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Dogs, like us humans, have the insulin hormone in their bodies. Insulin transfers sugar from the blood to the blood cells and consequently, generates energy. Starchy foods such as gravy, when consumed, breaks down into large amounts of glucose. More glucose would mean more insulin and over time your pooch may become less sensitive to insulin. Less sensitivity would mean a further release of insulin. Finally, when the insulins get exhausted, problems like diabetes would arise. Carbohydrates also fuel the growth of bacteria in the gut and cancer cells in your dog’s body.

gravy for dogs
Potato starch is used to thicken gravy.

6. Onion Powder

Onion powder is dehydrated ground onion that is commonly used as a seasoning in dog gravy. Onions contain a chemical called n-propyl disulfide which is toxic for dogs. That’s why onions are one of the most dangerous vegetables for dogs. The potency of this chemical is even more in its grounded form. In other words, gravy that contains onion powder isn’t safe for dogs.

Our canine friend’s body, just like ours, depends on its red blood cells for oxygen. N-propyl disulfide, however, attaches itself to the oxygen molecules of these cells which mars their functionality. Doubly, the body gets tricked into thinking that its own red blood cells are dangerous and so, starts to attack them.

This may cause anemia and your pup may show symptoms like lethargy, decreased appetite, pale gums, and reddish urine. Without immediate treatment, it might lead to more severe symptoms and even death.

7. Garlic

Nutty and spicy with a pungent aroma, garlic in raw or grounded form is added in the majority of instant gravies. Just like onions, garlic attacks the dog’s red blood cells causing anemia. Moreover, since garlic, especially when cooked, is a lot more potent than onions, the effects are more severe.

Your dog may show symptoms such as lethargy, pale gums, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, and redness in urine. Although, if consumed in small amounts, garlic may not be harmful to your pooch and might even be beneficial. Since, however, your companion’s health is at stake, there is betterment in avoidance.

How to Make Healthy Dog Gravy?

Now that we have established the ingredients that make commercial dog gravies harmful, let’s talk about nutritious homemade gravy that you can treat your pooch with. Because if you use the right ingredients, dogs surely can eat gravy.

The fact that you are willing to go the extra mile with fetching the ingredients and cooking this delicious meal goes to show just how much your little canine friend means to you. As far as the required ingredients go, you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 4 ounces of chicken liver
  • 1/4 cup raw carrots (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup raw green beans (chopped)
  • 3 cups of water

Step 1

Pour the coconut oil in a frying pan and set it to medium heat.

Step 2

Add the turkey and chicken meat and cook thoroughly.

Step 3

Once the meat is fully cooked and tender, add carrots, green beans, and water. Cover the pan and leave it for 30 minutes.

Step 4

Next, remove the food from the pan and let it cool down. Once cooled down, use a food processor or blender to mix it all until creamy. Add more water if you think the gravy needs is too thick.

Step 5

Serve warm over your dog’s regular food.

Step 6

Do not waste any of the leftover gravy. You can pack it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for 3-5 days. The airtight container can also be used to store the gravy in the freezer for up to 3 months.

do not waste dog gravy
Don’t waste the gravy!

Gravy for Dogs – FAQ

You may still have various questions regarding gravy for dogs, here are a few answers to your concerns.

How do I make gravy for my dog?

Nutritious and easy to make, dog gravy can be made with various ingredients from your pantry in unique ways. one of the best ways to make gravy is by using leftover chicken broth. There is no fixed recipe that needs to be followed when it comes to making gravy. however, make sure that you avoid the following ingredients in your gravy:

– Wheat flour
– Sugar
– Skimmed milk powder
– Palm oil
– Potato starch
– Garlic
– Onion powder

Why is gravy bad for dogs?

While homemade dog gravy is safe and healthy, your pooch shouldn’t be fed commercially available dog gravies. Aside from the fact that their salt and fat content is quite high, they also contain ingredients that may harm your pooch.

Ingredients such as onion or garlic powder may poison your dog while wheat flour and potato starch may cause weight gain and even diabetes.

Can gravy kill dogs?

Theoretically, gravies containing any of these ingredients are harmful for your dog:

– Wheat flour
– Sugar
– Skimmed milk powder
– Palm oil
– Potato starch
– Garlic
– Onion powder

Dog gravy ingredients like garlic and onions are downright poisonous, and constituents such as sugar and flour will prove detrimental over time. Your job as a pet parent would be to avoid feeding your pooch gravies that use these ingredients because dogs can’t eat them.

Can dogs have onion gravy?

Onion is toxic for dogs in both cooked and raw forms. Its chemical composition includes n-propyl disulfide which attacks the dog’s red blood cells causing life-threatening anemia. Mild symptoms such as urine discoloration, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting may get severe and even lead to death.

So, there’s our take on whether dogs can eat gravy or not. Overall, it’s not the gravy that causes the problem but the ingredients in it. So, make sure you’re only using ingredients that are safe for dogs.

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