Pet Consider

Can Cats Eat Ranch?

Can I Give My Cat Ranch?

Though it is usually marketed as a salad dressing, ranch dressing has turned out to be a shockingly versatile condiment in the minds of most Americans. In addition to pouring it atop our salads, we use it as an easy dip for otherwise bland vegetables. Many of us even eat ranch with foods like burgers, pizza, casseroles, French fries, and mashed potatoes. Just when it seems that we have reached the end of this condiment’s astonishing versatility, someone comes up with a brand new way of adding it to a party snack or dinner dish. Unless you make a point to avoid dairy products or high-fat foods, you probably have a bottle of ranch dressing in your fridge.

Because we drizzle it atop pretty much anything edible, our pets have countless opportunities to consume ranch dressing. Sure, we know that ranch is not a health food, but is it dangerous? Can cats have ranch?

The answer is no, cats should not eat ranch dressing in any quantity. Intuition is enough to let us know that ranch is not going to benefit our cats’ health in any way, but it goes a little further than that—ranch contains ingredients that are considered highly toxic to cats. Licking up a spilled drop of ranch every now and then is not likely to hurt your cat (don’t panic if you spill a little bit on the floor!), but feeding your cat ranch regularly or in large quantities is almost certainly going to cause problems. There are much safer ways to treat your furry friend, so keep the ranch away from them!

Health Benefits?

ranch dressingThe biggest reason to avoid feeding your cat ranch dressing is this: it almost always contains some amount of garlic and onions, which are both extremely toxic to felines. Garlic and onions are even more dangerous to cats than they are to dogs. Both of these foods contain a substance that can seriously damage your cat’s red blood cells, reducing their ability to carry oxygen. Because individual cells can no longer carry as much oxygen as they are supposed to, they can’t properly oxygenate the rest of the body.

This condition, which can cause permanent organ damage and even death, is called Heinz body anemia. Symptoms include pale lips and gums, extreme fatigue and weakness, labored breathing, rapid or irregular heartbeat, depression, anxiety, and collapse. Other symptoms of garlic or onion poisoning include upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, skin problems, dark or discolored urine, and kidney or liver failure.

These symptoms can take many days to show up—Heinz body anemia may develop as a result of regularly eating small quantities of foods containing garlic or onions. If you discover that your cat has been consuming ranch or any food containing these ingredients, monitor them closely. If you see any symptoms of anemia, take them to see a vet as soon as possible. With treatment, most cats have a pretty good prognosis.

Most of us justify eating ranch because of the foods we eat with it. Ranch itself certainly is not going to benefit our help, but if a dollop of ranch is what it takes to convince us and our kids to eat a serving of fresh vegetables, we consider it to be worth it. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for our cats. The ranch dressing definitely is not going to provide any of the vitamins and minerals that your cat needs to be healthy, and the vegetables are not going to provide enough nutrition to make the ranch worthwhile!

Things to Consider

Cats, as obligate carnivores, have evolved to eat meat almost exclusively. Their diets are not supposed to be particularly varied or complex. We get to justify our love for ranch by using carrots as its vehicle, but carrots are not healthful enough for cats for this argument to work. The negative impact of the ranch outweighs any small benefit that the carrots may offer.

Even if your cat manages to avoid poisoning, there would still be no good reason to give them ranch. Feeding your cat fatty, caloric condiments like ranch dressing is likely to contribute to weight gain, which can lead to feline obesity. Roughly half of all American cats are already overweight or obese, so this is a serious issue. Excess body fat increases your cat’s chances of developing diseases that can decrease both lifespan and quality of life, including heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes, arthritis, and respiratory, kidney, and liver problems. Fat cats are also more likely to develop many types of cancer.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, no, your cat should not consume ranch dressing. This food is nutritionally empty and may contribute to obesity if it is consumed on a regular basis. It also contains small amounts of garlic and onions, which are both toxic to felines. A tiny amount of ranch probably isn’t life-threatening, but if your cat begins to exhibit symptoms of anemia, take them to the vet.

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1 Comment

  1. D man

    February 2, 2018 - 6:44 am

    Thank you. This was very helpful. 🙂

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