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Can Dogs Eat Meatballs? Vet-Reviewed Info & Tips

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by Dogster Team

Can Dogs Eat Meatballs

Can Dogs Eat Meatballs? Vet-Reviewed Info & Tips


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Is your dog staring at you, waiting for a delicious meatball to fall onto the floor just for them?

Most canines are interested in their owner’s dinner preparations whenever meat is involved. Luckily,  you can offer your dog meatballs as long as they don’t contain specific ingredients that will turn a healthy snack into something dangerous.

In this post, we cover the benefits of red meat and how to properly serve meatballs to your pup without causing harm.


Is Red Meat Good for Dogs?

You can find red meat in many dog food recipes, and for good reason. Red meat is a powerhouse of nutrition. It’s packed with proteins containing essential amino acids, fats, and other vitamins and minerals that not only satiate hunger but also improve your dog’s health overall. Offering red meat to your dog can help build muscle and provide a healthy source of energy.

It’s also a source of B vitamins and iron, which are essential building blocks of your dog’s red blood cells.

Raw ground turkey meat
Image Credit: MoDaVi Art, Shutterstock

Meatballs Are Healthy, Unless…

Red meat is good for most dogs unless they have a beef allergy. Likewise, not all red meat dishes are safe to offer as food since the seasonings can be toxic. Meatballs can be good as long as they don’t contain the following:

  • Garlic and onion: Onion and garlic are toxic to dogs and can lead to various health problems, including anemia.
  • Excessive fats: Dogs should not be fed fried meatballs or those made with fatty cuts to prevent excessive calories and the risk of pancreatitis.
  • Salt: Your dog needs salt, but excessive sodium in their diet is harmful. Most commercial meatball recipes are loaded with salt.
  • Sauces: Not all sauces are harmful, but any sauce containing garlic, onion, alcohol, sugar, and extra salt should be avoided. A plain tomato sauce is safe, and it’s best to make it yourself since prepared sauces usually contain garlic and onions.

Dog-Friendly Meatball Recipe

A dog-friendly, easy-to-prepare meatball recipe you can prepare at home for your dogs.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 1 cup Ground beef lean
  • 1 cup Ground carrots
  • 1 tbsp Ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp Oat flour
  • 1 cup Chopped cilantro
  • 1 whole egg


  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Take a tablespoon to scoop the meat and form small meatballs by rolling them with your hands.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and cook the meatballs for 20 minutes.
  • If the meatballs are larger, they will need more time to cook. Let them cool down before offering them to your dog.


Or you could give this recipe a try; however, we suggest using oat flour.

divider-dog paw

Other Beef Products to Avoid

1. Raw Meat

Dogs can eat raw meat, but there is some risk of contamination by Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and other pathogenic bacteria that can wreak havoc on your dog’s health. If you want to offer raw meat to your dog, strict hygiene precautions must be followed during the entire slaughter, cold chain, and preparation process.

2. Corned Beef

Corned beef is full of seasonings that can be harmful to your dog. It’s also very high in sodium compared to other beef products. Avoid feeding corned beef altogether.

corned beef on a white plate
Image Credit: Gudrun Hochmuth, Shutterstock

3. Beef Jerky

Like corned beef, beef jerky is very high in salt and may contain unhealthy seasonings for your dog. Thankfully, you can find pet-friendly beef jerky that lacks extra flavorings.

4. Beef Broth

Plain beef broth is acceptable for your dog, but store-bought broth usually has added salt, garlic, and onion flavorings that can harm your dog’s health. You can find pet-safe beef broths at several pet stores and from online retailers. You can also make homemade beef broth to ensure no onion, garlic, or excessive salt is included.

bowl of beef bone broth
Image Credit: Madeleine Steinbach, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Red meat isn’t entirely off the table as long as your dog is not allergic to it and you avoid specific ingredients when preparing the meatballs. If the recipe and preparation meet the criteria, go ahead and offer a meatball to your dog. Just remember to stick to the 10% rule! Meatballs should only be occasional snacks, not a primary source of food.

Remember that we recommend consulting your veterinarian before offering anything to your dog, as having their approval is always a good idea. We are happy to see more pet owners seeking better food and treat options, but it’s vital to read the ingredient list carefully to determine if meatballs or other human foods are safe for your dog. Making homemade meatballs and omitting the toxic ingredients will ensure they’re a safe treat for your pup.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Karen Laårk Boshoff, Pexels

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