Can I Give My Dog Noodles?
People have loved carbohydrates of all sorts for as long as we have been cooking. Though everyone has their own taste preferences, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who did not have a soft spot for such carb-laden delights as cake, pizza, fresh bread, pie, cookies, and other baked goods. For health reasons (and budgetary reasons!), most of us have to moderate our intake of these high-carb foods. There are, however, carb sources that we eat much more regularly. Potatoes and rice are popular healthy, wholesome, budget-friendly sources of energy. Another extremely popular carb source is noodles, which are as versatile as they are delicious.
Noodles come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be more or less healthy depending on the type of noodles you buy and how you prepare them. Noodles show up in tons of popular lunch and dinner dishes. It has never been easier to include noodles in your diet, even if you’re looking to eat lots of protein, spend little money, or watch your waistline. They are easy to find, easy to store, easy to prepare, and easy to eat. They are one of the most popular comfort foods in the western world. But are they safe for our pets? Can dogs have noodles?
The short answer is: technically, yes, dogs can eat noodles, but they probably shouldn’t consume them with any regularity. The long answer is: it really depends on what you cook the noodles with. Plain noodles without any sauce or seasoning are safe for dogs to eat—they will not cause toxicity—but many of the ingredients commonly used to flavor noodles can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Even plain noodles, if given regularly or in large quantities, can make your pet sick and unhealthy in the long term. So, if you want to toss your dog a couple plain noodles while you’re boiling pasta, feel free, but resist the urge to scoop leftovers into their food dish.
There are many types of noodles, but, in general, there is no nutritional reason to give any of them to your dog. When putting together a diet for your pet, the goal is to pack it full of the most nutritious, efficient food you possibly can. Most dogs do not need very many calories to survive, so it is ideal to minimize the number of ‘empty calories’ that they consume while maximizing nutrition.
Though pasta makes a great foundation for high-energy post-workout meals, it does not provide many of the important vitamins and minerals we and our dogs need in order to thrive. If you aren’t getting adequate nutrition, most of the time, your doctor probably isn’t going to tell you to eat more pasta—they will tell you to load up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Noodles do not offer very many micronutrients per calorie, so they are not an efficient source of nutrition for our pets. Unless your dog is starving and does not have access to nutritionally complete food, there is no good reason to give them noodles.
If you’re going to give your dog noodles, whole grain is the best option. Though whole grain noodles are still high in calories and carbohydrates, they contain more protein and fiber than white noodles, which can help reduce insulin spikes and curb hunger. They also contain more micronutrients.
That said, noodles are still junk food for dogs. Though white pasta is the worst option, most types of noodles will only cause problems for your pooch. Dogs who eat noodles on a regular basis may gain weight and become overweight or obese. Pets who have too much body fat are at an increased risk of developing chronic or life-threatening illnesses like osteoarthritis, insulin resistance, type two diabetes, kidney and liver disease, heart disease, and many forms of cancer. Obese dogs may see their life expectancy reduced by up to two and a half years!
Things to Consider
If you give your pet noodles that have been flavored or topped with sauce, there are many other health risks. Many of the ingredients used in pasta sauces, including garlic and onions, are poisonous to dogs. If you give your dog pasta sauce that includes these ingredients, they might exhibit symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, fatigue and muscle weakness, rapid heartbeat, breathing problems, or pale mucous membranes. These are symptoms of toxicity, and you should contact a vet as soon as possible.
Other noodle-based dishes are often loaded with fat or sodium, which can cause pancreatitis or hypernatremia, respectively. If you have leftover noodles from your Chinese takeout, avoid giving your dog a bite. It will be more trouble than it’s worth.
Overall, your dog probably is not going to suffer if they eat a couple plain noodles every now and then, but they should not eat them regularly, and they definitely should not consume prepared pasta dishes. Noodles are little more than empty calories, and many of the sauces and flavorings used in noodle-based dishes are poisonous.