Can I Give My Dog Mayo?
Americans love condiments of all kinds, and we have found ways to include them in pretty much every meal. For sweet foods, we rely on delicious spreads and toppings like jam, maple or chocolate syrup, every nut butter conceivable, or whipped cream. For savory foods, we have even more room for creativity—we’ve got ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, guacamole, and ranch dressing. One of the most beloved condiments, however, is mayo. Mayonnaise is not as flashy as sriracha or even ketchup, but it remains a necessity in many of our kitchens. We use mayo in burgers and sandwiches. Some of us even use it as a dipping sauce for artichokes or even French fries.
When it comes to highly processed condiments like mayonnaise, we know we have to watch our portion sizes (and we know that, in a perfect world, we would probably go mayo-free), but most of us are comfortable eating this food semi-regularly as part of an overall healthy diet. Our doctors would not recommend we start eating mayo, but they probably would not beg us to ban it from our kitchens altogether. This is one junk food that we seem to be okay eating in moderation. But should our pets enjoy it in moderation, too? Can dogs have mayo?
The answer is no, dogs should not eat mayo with any regularity. Mayonnaise is not technically toxic to dogs—Fido will not fall over after licking a big blob of mayonnaise off the kitchen floor—but it is extremely unhealthy. Some dogs can handle eating tiny quantities of mayo without suffering any obvious adverse effects, while others may experience upset stomach or other unpleasant side effects.
It probably comes as no surprise that mayo offers no health benefits for your dog. Like many highly processed condiments, mayonnaise is little more than empty calories. It is true that mayonnaise is made from eggs mixed with oils and seasonings, but most brands of mayo are so heavily refined that any of the ‘good stuff’ in the eggs and seasonings has been filtered out. Your dog would be much better off having a small amount of scrambled egg than eating mayonnaise.
Commercial mayo does not have a significant amount of any of the important vitamins, minerals, or amino acids your dog needs to thrive. Unlike some fatty foods (such as coconuts, seafood, and avocados), mayonnaise doesn’t even offer good fats for your pet. When your dog eats mayonnaise, they are not getting anything that can benefit their body. Mayo isn’t poisonous, but it has no nutrition for your dog—and all that fat may very well cause them to get sick even without experiencing toxicity.
Empty calories are wasteful, but they can also be dangerous. In the United States, over half of all dogs are overweight or obese. Canine obesity can have a serious negative impact both on your dog’s lifespan and quality of life. Dogs who are carrying too much excess weight often find it difficult to exercise and engage in physical play, which can cause them to become lethargic and depressed. Obesity can also increase your canine companion’s chances of developing diseases like insulin resistance, type two diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney and liver disease, and even some types of cancer. Some studies have found that obesity may reduce your dog’s life expectancy by up to two and a half years!
Things to Consider
Mayo can do more than make your dog obese. Because it is extremely high in unhealthy saturated fats, mayonnaise can contribute to high cholesterol, heart disease, and pancreatitis. Feeding your dog too much fatty food can cause their pancreas to become inflamed, which can result in unpleasant symptoms like dehydration, abdominal pain and swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, poor appetite, and behavioral changes. In severe cases, pancreatitis can lead to heart arrhythmias, permanent organ damage, and death. Dogs who have had pancreatitis before should not be allowed to have any mayonnaise.
Even reduced fat mayonnaise is a bad choice for dogs. In addition to being heavily process and nutritionally empty, ‘light’ versions of most commercially sold mayo brands have up to four times as much sugar as their full-fat counterparts. This can cause blood sugar spikes that may contribute to insulin resistance or diabetes.
Though a blob of mayonnaise is not going to kill your dog, mayo is not a suitable food for canines. It is high in calories and fat, yet completely empty of the important micronutrients dogs need to live long, healthy lives. To preserve your dog’s long-term health, it’s probably best to keep the mayo out of their reach.