Can Dogs Eat Mac & Cheese | Here's Why it's a Bad Idea

Can Dogs Eat Mac & Cheese | Here's Why it's a Bad Idea

Author WDF Staff


One of our favorite quick meals is mac and cheese. It is really easy to make, and there are different boxes that contain macaroni and pre-prepared cheese sauce mix, like Kraft. If you have a busy schedule that doesn’t allow you to prepare meals that are a bit more complicated and take longer to cook, mac and cheese are a great way of having a warm, tasty meal in no time.

If you’re looking for the answer to the question, “Can dogs eat mac and cheese?” you either want to know if you can give your dog some, or your dog grabbed some of your mac and cheese while you weren’t looking. The answer is that dogs can eat mac and cheese, but it is not the best idea ever. Here’s what our nutritionists want you to know about dogs and mac and cheese.

What’s in mac and cheese?

Other than the two main ingredients, macaroni and cheese, there are other things in this dish that might not exactly be toxic to dogs but aren’t the healthiest food option. This dish might be delicious, but it doesn’t offer our dogs or us much nutritional value. It contains things that might be good, like protein and carbs, but it also includes a lot of calories. Here are some of the ingredients included in mac and cheese.


Macaroni contains a lot of sugar. When dogs eat sweet foods, the sugar they ingest breaks down slowly in their digestive system. Overeating will cause the pasta to break down to glucose. Dogs usually can’t process all of it, which means their body will start storing extra glucose into fat. It can lead to canine obesity, which is a known problem among American dogs.


Gluten might not be as scary as many of us think, but some dogs can be allergic to it. Macaroni contains wheat, which means it naturally has a lot of gluten. If your dog can’t process it, it can get an upset gastrointestinal tract and experience issues like diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

mac and cheese

Artificial ingredients

Things like boxed mac and cheese contain artificial flavors and colorings. That’s why you shouldn’t eat it too often. If it’s bad for you, it’s bad for your dog as well. Dogs can’t process artificial ingredients properly, and ingesting foods that contain them, can lead to different health issues.


Probably the worst ingredients found in mac and cheese str called phthalates. Phthalates are industrial chemicals used for processing and making plastic softer. These chemicals are found in all sorts of products we buy and use, but they have no place being in our food. They are cancerogenic, and cheese and cheese products contain nearly four times the recommended dosage.

Is mac and cheese safe for dogs?

Theoretically, nothing bad should happen if your dog grabs some of your mac and cheese. That means they won’t get poisoned or have a reaction like eating chocolate, onions, or grapes. However, long-term feeding mac and cheese to your dog will result in severe health conditions. This primarily refers to boxed versions of mac and cheese. Homemade dishes will likely have far less processed and artificial ingredients that might be easier for your dog to process. Here are two possible issues your dog might experience.

Lactose intolerance in dogs

Cheese is a dairy product, which means dogs that are lactose intolerant cannot properly digest it. If you’re not sure your dog is lactose intolerant, and you feed them mac and cheese, they might have a severe reaction to it. The dog will get gassy, get abdominal pain, diarrhea, and might vomit.

Gluten reaction

If your dog is allergic to gluten, it might get a severe reaction from eating pasta. If you notice vomiting, diarrhea, gassiness, red skin, and other forms of skin irritations, you should immediately stop giving them mac and cheese and call your vet. Luckily, gluten allergies are not that common in dogs.

mac-and-cheese bowl

VET TIP: When you want to include something new in your dog’s diet, you should make sure it offers some health benefits to them. It makes no sense to give your dog something that will not improve its overall health.

How much mac and cheese can dogs eat?

We strongly recommend you don’t give your dog any mac and cheese. However, some owners love sharing their food with their dogs. If you are absolutely adamant about giving some to your dog, make sure it is only a tiny bit and not too often. If you absolutely have to give a bite of your mac and cheese, don’t give it more than once a month.

What can I give my dog instead of mac and cheese?

If you want to “spice” your dog’s diet, there are far healthier options than mac and cheese. Even if you prepare mac and cheese at home, the dog still can have a bad reaction to it. You should pick healthier alternatives. Some of the things you might give safely to your dog are;

These things are packed with healthy nutrients, and your dog will get direct health benefits from eating these things. You can check more recommendations here - Healthiest human foods dogs can eat.

In conclusion

Dogs should stick to their kibble. While you might be tempted to give some of your mac and cheese to your dog, you should know that giving your dog table scraps is never a good idea. In fact, boxed mac and cheese are not that healthy for us, so we should eat them far less frequently.

World Dog Finder team

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