Can Dogs Eat Mac and Cheese? 

By Britt Kascjak

While dogs can eat mac and cheese, it’s not a treat that you should give to your dog. Macaroni and cheese doesn’t have much nutritional value for your dog. But, it does have salt, oils, seasonings, dairy, and gluten. These ingredients can all make him sick.

Can My Dog Enjoy Mac and Cheese?

Do you love mac and cheese and want to share some with your dog? Did your dog recently chow down on some macaroni and cheese and you’re worried he might get sick?

The good news is that mac and cheese isn’t toxic.

But, you should always check for added ingredients that could be dangerous.

Unfortunately, mac and cheese also isn’t a healthy snack choice for dog. It’s not toxic, but it can still make him feel very ill.

If your dog got into your lunch, he should be okay after a little while. But, you shouldn’t feed your dog macaroni and cheese.

There are healthier choices available. 

Can Dogs Have Mac and Cheese?

We often see macaroni and cheese as a comfort food. While it may bring joy into your life, the same can’t be said for your dog. Good human food doesn’t necessarily make good dog food.

Best case scenario, your dinner scraps will give your dog an upset stomach. But for some dogs, mac and cheese can lead to much more serious health problems.

Health Benefits of Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese does contain some important nutrients. This includes carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and vitamins A, B-12, D, and K.

But, the amount of these nutrients is minimal. Most of this is strictly in the cheese.

The totals are so low that most professionals will say that mac and cheese has no nutritional value.

There are far more risks than benefits for your dog.

Health Risks of Mac and Cheese

Seasonings, Salts, and Oils 

How your mac and cheese is prepared may add to the risks. Many dishes are cooked with seasonings, salts, and oils.

Depending on the seasonings used, these can be toxic.

Even those that aren’t toxic can upset your dog’s tummy and leave him feeling ill.

Gluten Intolerance and allergies

There has been a lot of talk about the safety of grains and gluten for dogs in recent years.

Gluten allergies aren’t overly common in dogs. But, they can exist.

Many forms of pasta available at your grocery store is highly processed. Processed foods are even harder for a dog with gluten intolerance to digest.

Signs that your dog may be gluten intolerant include:

  • Loose stools
  • Mucus in their stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Excess gas
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting after eating
  • Weight loss
  • Skin irritation, rashes, hair loss
  • Red, inflamed paws
  • Ear infections

If you do notice these signs in your dog, pay careful attention to what he has been eating. Eliminating gluten from his diet can help to clear up the problem.

Lactose Intolerance

Like humans, dogs can be lactose intolerant. In fact, surprisingly most dogs are lactose intolerant to some degree.

This means that the dog lacks the enzyme necessary to break down lactose.

When a lactose intolerant dog eats dairy products, they can’t fully digest it.

As the lactose builds up in the digestive system, it will make your dog feel ill. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Can Dogs Eat Macaroni Without Cheese?

Plain macaroni is safe for your dog to eat, in moderation.

If you’re looking to give your dog a special treat, you can offer a small serving of macaroni. But, don’t give him too much.

Macaroni contains a high amount of carbohydrates.

Carbs are a natural source of energy for your dog. But, too many carbs can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Over time, this added weight can introduce other health complications. This includes added stress on the heart, joint pain, and a higher risk of some types of cancer.

Macaroni should only be offered as a special treat on rare occasions.

Can Dogs Eat Other Pasta Dishes?

When considering other pasta dishes, you need to read the ingredients carefully.

Many sauces include seasonings and flavorings that can be toxic for your dog. Check for ingredients like onions (or onion powder) or garlic.

If you’re interested in offering pasta to your dog, plain pasta is the safest choice. Another option would be to make a custom dog-friendly pasta dish with all his favorite foods.

Can Dogs Eat Cheese?

Like macaroni, cheese is safe for your dog to eat, in moderation. In fact, many dogs love cheese as a go-to snack or training treat.

But, cheese is very high in fat. This can cause unwanted weight gain or obesity.

It can also cause more serious health problems like pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

Another concern with cheese is that some include herbs and other ingredients. Garlic, onions, and chives are all common additions and all dangerous.

Read the ingredients on any cheese variety carefully before offering any to your dog.

What Cheeses Are Safe for Dogs?

The safest cheeses for your dog are the low-fat varieties. This includes cottage cheese, soft goat cheese, and mozzarella.

Cottage cheese is one of the most recommended options.

Not only is it low in fat, but it’s also low in sodium and lactose. This means it’s less likely to upset your dog’s stomach.

You should still moderate how much cottage cheese you give your dog. But, it is a healthier cheese treat.

Can My Dog Eat Kraft Mac and Cheese?

Like other varieties of macaroni and cheese, Kraft mac and cheese isn’t toxic. But, it also doesn’t offer any nutritional value for your dog.

Designed to be stored safely, Kraft mac and cheese contains preservatives. Even natural preservatives can upset your dog’s stomach.

It is also high in sodium which can lead to dangerous conditions like salt toxicity.

Signs of salt toxicity include:

  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If left unaddressed, salt toxicity can be fatal. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Can Dogs Eat Homemade Mac and Cheese?

The benefit of making homemade mac and cheese is having control over the ingredients. You can avoid using foods and seasonings that are dangerous for your dog.

Even with this extra precaution, there are risks to consider.

Dogs that may be sensitive to gluten or dairy are still going to experience problems. In fact, there is often more dairy in homemade mac and cheese.

Not only does this increase the risk of problems with lactose intolerance, but it also means more fat.

You can make a dog-friendly mac and cheese, assuming your dog isn’t lactose intolerant. But, don’t feed him too much.

How Much Macaroni and Cheese Can My Dog Have?

The amount of mac and cheese that is safe for your dog will depend on his size.

But, with the risk of making your dog feel sick, it’s not worth testing this. A tasty treat can quickly turn into an uncomfortable experience.

Your dog can enjoy a bite of mac and cheese, if you want to share. Avoid giving him too much.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Too Much Mac and Cheese?

If your dog ate mac and cheese, take a deep breath. Eating too much mac and cheese isn’t likely going to lead to an emergency vet visit.

The exception would be if you have added toxic ingredients like garlic or onion to your dish.

Encourage your dog to drink plenty of clean, fresh water. This will help to flush out his system and lessen the digestive upset.

It’s also an important to prevent dehydration if he experiences vomiting or diarrhea.

Watch him closely for any signs of distress and do your best to make him comfortable.

Keep in mind that he may suddenly vomit or go to the bathroom. So, it’s best to avoid carpetted areas or spaces in your home that are hard to clean.

Focus on helping him to stay calm until the digestive upset has passed.

If at any time your dog shows signs of more serious illness, call your vet immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health!

Healthy Alternatives to Mac and Cheese

Are you searching for a fun and tasty treat for your dog?

Rather than feeding mac n cheese with all it’s risks, there are some other options. Many of these healthy treats even offer great benefits! Here’s a few healthier alternatives.

Gluten-Free Pasta and Cottage Cheese

For dog owners that are determined to give their dog mac and cheese, this is a compromise.

As already mentioned, cottage cheese is low fat, low sodium, and lower lactose. This reduces the risks of many of the health problems from mac and cheese.

By using gluten-free pasta, you avoid the risk of gluten intolerance or allergies. But, this can run at a much higher price point.

Crunchy Dog-Friendly Vegetables

There are many vegetables that are both healthy and tasty for your dog. This includes bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, brocoli, or squash.

These options are quick and easy.

All you have to do is to wash them up, cut them into safe pieces to avoid the risk of choking and enjoy.

Sweet Potato

One option that deserves it’s own mention is sweet potato. This root vegetable is delicious and can be prepared in many different ways.

You can boil sweet potato and mash it to mix in with your dog’s food.

Sweet potato can also be dehydrated to make a delicious treat. Sweet potato chews are a great source of fiber and will keep easily over time.

Final Thoughts: Can Dogs Eat Mac and Cheese?

Returning to the original question, can dogs eat mac and cheese? The short answer is yes.

Mac and cheese isn’t toxic. But, it also doesn’t offer much nutrional value.

For dogs that are lactose intolerant or experience gluten allergies, it can be a problem. Plus, it can cause digestive upset in all dogs. 

There are many other alternatives that are healthier for your dog and just as tasty!

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.