Can dogs eat gravy?

Health and Wellbeing

No Sunday roast or Christmas dinner could ever be complete without lashings of meaty, tasty gravy and you might even slather this savoury sauce on your chips with a pile of cheese!

Can dogs eat gravy?

Your pooch has probably been very tempted by the smell of this meat-flavoured treat, and might even have licked a bit off your plate after you’ve finished your supper, but can dogs eat gravy? It might seem like a tasty topping to make your dog’s dinner even more appetising, but let’s explore whether this is a safe sauce for your pooch to enjoy.

CAN DOGS EAT GRAVY?

It really depends on whether the gravy was homemade or shop-bought, and what ingredients are inside it. Generally, gravy has a fair amount of fat and quite a lot of salt, so it’s not very good for dogs to eat regularly or in large quantities.

Some gravy recipes will also use cooked onion, onion powder, onion oil, or garlic granules which are all considered toxic to dogs. Some shop-bought fresh gravies can include other ingredients that aren’t good for dogs, including wine.

Even if your gravy has some salt, your pooch will probably be safe as long as they only eat a very small amount as a one-off or a special treat, like a spoonful on their dinner once in a blue moon.

CAN DOGS HAVE GRAVY GRANULES?

It depends. Many gravy granules still contain a fair bit of fat and salt. However, you can control how much water you use so you could make a more diluted version for your pooch.

If you make a very diluted gravy using only a pinch of granules and lots of water, it will probably be safe for your pooch to enjoy. However, gravy granules do still contain onion and allergens like wheat which you need to be aware of.

CAN DOGS EAT BISTO GRAVY?

Bisto gravy does have lower salt, fat, and sugar than some other brands but it still isn’t healthy for Fido. Bisto recipes do contain onion which your dog shouldn’t eat, and wheat and soy which some dogs are allergic to.

Eating a bit of Bisto gravy shouldn’t cause any harm to a big dog, but little dogs might not be able to tolerate it as they have much more sensitive stomachs and can eat much smaller amounts of salt and onion before becoming ill.

CAN DOGS EAT KFC GRAVY?

No, your dog shouldn’t eat KFC gravy. Although their famous saucy side is delicious, it’s very salty and surprisingly high in calories.

The fast-food chain doesn’t list all the ingredients in their gravy, but as you may or may not know, it involves adding in all the scraps of fried chicken and batter into a pot of stock. (Like how you use meat scraps and leftover bones to make proper gravy.) That’s great for reducing waste and improving taste, not so much for our furry friends because it means that all the fat and seasonings from the fried chicken is also in the gravy. It also means it’s very likely that there is onion and garlic powder in KFC gravy, which is toxic to dogs in large quantities.

There’s also a surprisingly long list of allergens in the sauce, including milk, eggs, wheat and gluten, barley, oats, rye, sesame, soya, and celery. So if your dog is allergic to any of these ingredients, they definitely need to keep their paws off KFC gravy!

CAN DOGS EAT MARMITE GRAVY?

Marmite is very salty, but a lot of dogs love the taste of this savoury spread. We humans often add a spoonful to gravies to make them richer, or even make a vegetarian-friendly gravy using this yeasty paste.

Marmite gravy should be fine for your dog provided it is fed in strict moderation and the gravy doesn’t contain any onion or garlic. It is still very salty and certainly not “good” for your dog to eat, so it should still only fed in small amounts (if at all) and only as a special treat.

IS GRAVY BAD FOR DOGS?

Generally, gravy is bad for dogs because it is very high in sodium, otherwise known as salt. Dogs do need a bit of sodium in their diet to maintain im-paw-tent bodily functions, however, they do not need to eat much at all to keep healthy. Meanwhile, eating too much salt can put them at risk of dehydration and sodium poisoning.

If your dog has an underlying health condition, such as heart failure, they definitely should not eat gravy because they need to eat a low-sodium diet to help manage their condition.

As well as salt, gravy often contains onions, onion paste, onion powder, onion oil, garlic, or garlic powder. While this makes the sauce super tasty for us humans, large amounts or regular ingestion of these plants can cause anaemia in dogs and onions and garlic are considered toxic to dogs.

There are other unsavoury ingredients in gravy your pooch shouldn’t be snacking on. Some store-bought recipes contain wine, and alcohol is another ingredient that is toxic to dogs and could cause intoxication if they eat too much.

Gravy also contains calories and fat, and although it isn’t what you’d think of as typical junk food, it will still add empty calories and fat to your dog’s diet that could contribute towards unhealthy weight gain and obesity.

If your dog has any known allergies, you’ll need to be especially careful. Most gravy recipes will use flour to bind and thicken the sauce, which means gravy could make a pup with a wheat or gluten allergy or intolerance sick. Many gravies also contain soya, which is a common canine allergen.

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY GRAVY FOR YOUR DOG

Most dogs will eat the same food every day and still get excited about it, nevertheless, we humans like to offer our pups variety and special treats from time to time. Although your dog shouldn’t eat store-bought gravy, you can make a tasty topping for their dinner.

You can even buy gravy or sauce from pet shops made especially for dog’s dinners, but be careful you don’t feed your pooch too much or too often because it can add a lot of calories and lead to weight gain.

If you’re pressed for time and desperate to spoil your dog, you could buy some reduced salt gravy granules to make instant gravy for your dog, and use more water than usual to dilute it and make it safer for your pooch. However, you will still need to watch for potential irritants and allergens like onions and wheat in the ingredient list.

Otherwise, you can make your own homemade gravy and share it with your pup provided you don’t add too much salt or sugar, and keep onions and garlic out of your sauce. You can boil down meat scraps and bones as you would as normal to make gravy, but pour out a separate portion before you add any seasonings and keep this plain, meaty sauce for your dog to have as a special treat. Watering your dog’s gravy down will help to let them have more sauce but with fewer calories.

You could also puree some boneless meat, like turkey mince, with some water and other dog-safe ingredients to make a tasty, healthy gravy that will also provide some nutrition for your furry friend as well as tasting great.

But remember, even homemade gravy will still add calories to your dog’s dinner but not much nutrition. Always feed them treats like gravy in strict moderation to prevent them from becoming overweight. So maybe save those saucy dinners for special occasions, like your pup’s birthday.

However, there’s one way to make a super healthy gravy for your dog that’s packed full of nutrition and no nasties which your dog can eat every day if they fancied it. Just get some of your Pure and add more water than usual to make a runnier, saucier consistency and you’ve made your pooch a perfectly safe and healthy gravy or soup style dinner!

RECAP: CAN DOGS HAVE GRAVY?

No, your pooch shouldn’t really have gravy because it is packed full of salt which isn’t good for dogs in large quantities and it can also add calories to their dinner without providing any nutrition.

Although generally, gravy won’t be poisonous either so don’t worry if your dog has a lick of gravy with some leftovers or hoovers up a dribble from the floor. A bit of gravy shouldn’t cause your pup any serious harm, just don’t go spooning sauce onto your dog’s dinner every day!

Instead, feed your dog a meal that's bursting with nutrition, but still totally tasty too! Healthy meals can be delicious too. Pure is complete and balanced, giving your dog every bit of nutrition they need with every single bite, it'll have your pooch feeling happy, healthy and their tail will be wagging for years to come!

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS

Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.