Lasagna might have originated in Italy, but it is now popular in many countries throughout the world. It owes its popularity in part to the fact that it is easy to mass-produce. It can be used to cater for large events or to create quick and easy versions to reheat at home.
Our modern microwavable meals might not quite live up to the original Italian dish, but is lasagna suitable for our dogs?
What is lasagna?
“Lasagna” is technically an Italian pasta that is rolled and then cut into large strips to use in cooking. However, the name is most often used to refer to the dish itself, rather than the pasta sheets.
The most common version of the lasagna dish is created using alternating layers of ragu (a rich tomato-based sauce with mince, onions, and sometimes other vegetables) and sheets of lasagna pasta. It is topped with a “white sauce” (a creamy mix of milk, butter, flour, and parmesan) with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.
Can dogs eat lasagna?
Most of the individual ingredients that make up a lasagna are not poisonous to a healthy dog. The main exception would be onions and garlic (alliums), which can be toxic if eaten in large enough quantities. However, it takes a lot of alliums to poison a dog. It is unlikely to be harmful if your dog only eats a small amount of lasagna.
None of the other common lasagna ingredients are likely to be toxic to healthy dogs. However, this does not mean that lasagna is good for our dogs to eat, nor that eating it is risk-free.
Which dogs should not eat lasagna?
Certain health conditions may make it riskier for dogs to eat lasagna.
Food allergies or intolerances are common in dogs. Meat proteins, dairy, and wheat gluten are all common things for dogs to be sensitive to, and are all commonly found in lasagna. Dogs with known food allergies, or who are prone to upset stomachs, should not eat lasagna.
Some versions of lasagna have a high salt content, especially the ready-made microwavable versions. Dogs with heart or kidney disease, or those taking potassium bromide to treat seizures, should not eat large amounts of salt. These dogs will benefit from eating a diet recommended by their veterinarian.
Do dogs like lasagna?
Lasagna usually smells delicious and has a rich, salty, meaty flavor. This is likely to make it very appealing to our dogs – although there will, of course, be some exceptions!
Vegetarian or vegan versions of the dish may be less appealing as they lack the meat or dairy ingredients that appeal to our dogs. The high fat and salt content still make them more interesting than plain vegetables.
Is lasagna good for dogs?
Lasagna is not generally considered a healthy food for either dogs or humans. It is high in fats from the meat and dairy ingredients and simple carbohydrates from pasta. This means it contains a lot of calories that are easy for the body to digest. Dogs who regularly eat lasagna are likely to put on weight.
Pre-prepared, mass-produced versions of lasagna are likely to be ultra-processed foods. They may contain ingredients added to improve flavors such as hydrogenated fats and added sugars which will increase the calorie count even more.
Vegetarian or vegan versions of the dish may be slightly healthier than the meat-containing versions. They are likely to contain less fat and more fiber-rich vegetables but are still usually considered unhealthy.
Feeding your dog lasagna will not give them any extra nutritional benefits. As long as you are feeding your dog a complete diet made according to AAFCO nutritional guidelines, and is suitable for their life stage, then they will get all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need from their regular food.
For more information about this, you can read this article.
Is lasagna bad for dogs?
We have already discussed that some health conditions make it risky to feed dogs lasagna. However, there are several other reasons why it may not be a good idea to feed lasagna even to a healthy dog.
Many dogs are lactose intolerant, meaning that if they eat significant amounts of milk or cheese, they can suffer from a nasty upset stomach (vomiting, diarrhea, and so on). The large amounts of dairy in lasagna mean it is likely to make your dog’s digestive system very unhappy.
Dogs who eat lasagna are also likely to be at risk of pancreatitis, particularly if they are not used to it. Pancreatitis (inflammation in the pancreas) is an unpleasant condition that causes abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. In dogs, it can be caused by eating new or different foods, particularly if they are rich and fatty like lasagna.
The symptoms of pancreatitis will appear shortly after eating the fatty food. Mild cases can be treated with medication from your veterinarian. More serious cases need hospitalization for treatment. Sadly, in some cases, pancreatitis can even be fatal.
Lasagna is high in fat from the meat, dairy, and cooking oil that it contains, as well as added fats in ready-made versions. This means that it could easily cause pancreatitis, particularly in dogs who have already suffered from the illness in the past.
If you are going to offer your dog some lasagna, then it is best to only give them a very small amount to try as a treat. You can reduce the fat content by removing the cheesy layer from the top before giving it to them.
So, can dogs eat lasagna? This food is not a good choice of food to share with our dogs. It is high in calories, and its rich, fatty ingredients mean that there is a risk of causing an upset stomach or even pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
If you are keen to share a little, try offering some of the tomato sauce and pasta parts of the dish, but be aware that even this could be enough to cause problems in some dogs.
Ruth graduated from Cambridge in 2014 and has worked as a small animal GP vet ever since. She is particularly interested in internal medicine, as it combines her love of problem-solving and her somewhat geeky love of knowledge, and has completed her certificate in Small Animal Medicine.