How to Cook a Wholesome Meatloaf For Your Dog
This dog-friendly recipe is so not your mom’s meatloaf — which is a good thing.
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Does your pup’s mouth water at the smell of your home-cooked meatloaf? While you might consider sneaking them a few bites, vets actually don’t recommend it. It could cause a tummy ache or worse. Bummer. If your dog is yearning for your home cooking, we’ve got you covered. This meatloaf recipe is geared specifically for dogs; it includes all the good stuff they love and excludes ingredients that might upset their stomach. Plus, it’s easy to make at home.
Can dogs eat meatloaf?
In general, dogs can eat small portions of plain unseasoned meatloaf, but keep in mind that not all meatloaf is safe for dogs. The meatloaf you’re used to eating contains ingredients (like onions, garlic, and sauces) that are either toxic or can cause GI issues in dogs, so it isn’t a good idea to share a bite off your plate.
“Several allium species common in cooking, such as leeks, garlic, onions, chives, and shallots, can be healthy for people. For dogs, though, alliums are toxic. If ingested, they can cause hemolytic anemia — a decreased number of red blood cells,” writes Leticia Fanucchi, clinical assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Oklahoma State University on foods toxic to pets.
Some processed meatloaf and recipes even contain Xylitol, an alternative to sugar that is toxic to dogs. “Ingesting even the smallest amount of xylitol can cause a pet’s liver to rapidly release insulin, causing hypoglycemia – unusually low blood glucose levels,” Fanucchi describes.
If you do choose to feed your dog meatloaf, it's best to make it at home using dog-safe ingredients (without additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or harmful foods) and to feed it in moderation. Luckily, your pup can still enjoy a version of the classic dinner with this inspired recipe.
How to make meatloaf for dogs?
To get started making the meatloaf, you’ll mix your pup’s favorite meats, some oats, and two eggs, then add in their favorite vegetables. If you’re missing an ingredient, substitutions are easy. Finally, when introducing new foods, do so in small quantities until you know how your dog responds to and tolerates them. This recipe is not a substitute for regular dog food, consider it a treat and feed accordingly.
If you don’t have turkey, you can use ground chicken, ground lamb, and even lean ground beef — but avoid pork, veal, or high-fat ground beef which can be too fatty. “Pets that ingest an overload of fats may develop pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that helps break down fat, protein and carbs,” Fanucchi says.
In place of the oatmeal, you can try other whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa. Flaxseed meal is a good substitute for bread crumbs. While oats are naturally gluten-free, they can be contaminated during processing. If you’re concerned about gluten, opt for gluten-free oats.
There are plenty of pet-safe vegetable options to add to your pup’s meatloaf. Veggies popular with pups include carrots, green beans, peas, and even broccoli. If your pup is a fan of sweet potatoes, you can bake them in the pan at the same time, too.
And if you’re feeling inspired, consider adding some nutritionally-packed supplements or toppings to complement the meatloaf, like pulverized calcium, nori (seaweed), chopped pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Mouthwatering Meatloaf for Dogs
Store sliced meatloaf in the fridge, or freeze for up to three months. Make a few of these meatloaves at a time to freeze, using different flavors for variety. Feed according to your dog’s size and calorie needs.
2 pounds ground turkey
1 cup cooked organic oatmeal
3/4 cup organic flaxseed meal or breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh organic parsley, finely chopped
2 large organic eggs
2 cups fresh or frozen organic vegetables (do not include onion)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan or a 13-by-nine-inch baking dish and form a loaf in the center. You can also use a roasting pan; just space the loaf in the middle of it.
Optional: You can cook potatoes or sweet potatoes in the pan at the same time by spreading them around the loaf.
Bake for one hour on the center rack.
Veterinarians suggest a good rule of thumb is to limit treats to no more than 10 percent of your dog's daily calorie intake. If you're unsure how much meatloaf to feed your dog, it's best to consult your veterinarian, who can give you personalized advice based on your dog’s needs. And, if you’re interested in substituting your pup’s meals with home-cooked meals, consult a veterinary nutritionist to ensure you meet your pup’s nutritional needs.
Adapted from Eco Dog by Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich
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Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.