Can Dogs Eat Pasta? Know Your Noodles!
In small amounts, cooked pasta is safe for most dogs – but not necessarily healthy. Dogs thrive on fat and protein – not carbs – and can develop wheat allergies as well as chronic health conditions associated with genetically modified pasta. Organic brown rice and chickpea pasta are better options than traditional pasta.
There isn’t much nutritional value in pasta, so pasta should not make up a dog’s entire meal. But, if you do want to occasionally share a little “Lady and the Tramp” appetizer with your favourite pup, there are some decent options such as organic brown rice and chickpea pasta.
Is Pasta Good For My Dog?
No. Traditional (wheat) pasta is not recommended for dogs for several reasons:
- pasta is high in carbohydrates and can lead to weight gain
- most pasta is genetically modified to withstand toxic pesticides
- ongoing exposure to wheat can lead to allergies
- pasta noodles are frequently served with sauces that may not be good for dogs
- pasta has minimal nutritional value
- dogs thrive on protein and fat, not carbohydrates
Carbohydrates – Not a Dog’s Best Friend
Pasta is made up primarily of carbohydrates from (wheat) flour. However, studies show that dogs have a natural preference for proteins and fats – not carbohydrates. According to Hewson-Hughes, dogs actually prefer 93% of their meals to come from protein and fat to optimize their metabolism. Roberts confirmed that when dogs are given an option, they prefer fat over protein, and do not select carbohydrates as a significant part of their meal.
Although dogs have adapted to the carbohydrates found in many commercial dog food products like kibble, it doesn’t mean that that’s a good adaptation.
High energy dogs can burn off a few extra carbohydrates, but most dogs – including canine athletes and working dogs – process nutrients more efficiently on a grain-free diet.
In addition to carbohydrates, pasta noodles have some sodium, fat, fibre, sugars and protein. Very small amounts of iron, vitamin B and magnesium are insignificant to your dog’s vitamin requirements, making pasta an occasional treat – not a staple.
Studies show that dogs prefer their meals to contain only about 7% carbohydrates. They thrive on protein and fat.
Genetically Modified (GM) Pasta Can Cause Health Problems
Unless otherwise labelled as organic or non-GMO, most pasta noodles contain ingredients – like wheat – that are genetically modified (GM) to make them more resistant to high levels of toxic pesticides sprayed on crops. Plant genes may also be edited at a molecular level to control pests and increase crop production using genetic biotechnology.
In addition to unknown environmental impacts, we are learning that genetically modified foods may be contributing to cellular damage and epidemics of poor digestion, allergies and chronic illnesses in both people and animals. There is early evidence through animal studies which indicates serious health risks associated with GM food, including:
- immune reactions and allergies
- accelerated aging
- insulin regulation
- gastrointestinal bleeding
- liver, pancreas and kidney damage
- slower brain growth
Industry studies maintain that genetically modified foods are nutritious and claim that the evidence for harm is inconclusive. However, extreme caution in genetic manipulation is warranted given the dearth of regulations, potential impact on the environment and focus on short-term gains in lieu of long term outcomes.
It’s a good idea to avoid feeding your dog genetically modified food whenever possible.
Whole Wheat or Refined White Pasta?
Whole-wheat pasta has more fibre, less calories and fewer carbohydrates than refined or enriched white pasta. Regardless, frequent wheat consumption can still lead to health problems in your dog.
Wheat Allergies and Chronic Health Problems
It is rare for a dog to have an immediate allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to pasta. It is more likely that food sensitivities develop when wheat or other grains are included in a dog’s diet on a regular basis.
There are many pathways that might lead to the development of wheat allergies such as genetic modification (GM) of crops or animal’s exposure to wheat over a long period of time.
Wheat is also a crop highly sprayed with toxic pesticides like glyphosate (Roundup) which can inhibit the body’s ability to detoxify, repair and maintain healthy gut bacteria. Since the gut plays a significant role in the body’s immune system, we can begin to understand how a diet high in wheat might contribute to allergies, leaky gut and other immune-mediated illnesses such as cancer and auto-immune diseases.
Although the precise mechanisms of wheat allergies are unknown, wheat is found in many commercial kibble products and are associated with symptoms such as:
- itchy skin and paws
- head shaking
- breathing problems
So, although whole wheat has a slight nutritional edge over white noodles, neither comes close to offering fresh, complete nutrition for your pet’s diet.
Alternatives to Traditional Pasta
Fortunately, dog owners can offer a better choice of pasta for their dogs. Avoid gluten-free, corn and ramen noodles and opt for rice and small amounts of chickpea pasta instead.
Gluten and Gluten Free Pasta
Gluten is a glue-like protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and bran, and is present in traditional pasta noodles.
More and more people are becoming intolerant to gluten – particularly those with celiac disease and some auto-immune illnesses. Although we do not often see dogs being diagnosed with gluten intolerance, we do see health issues related to wheat intolerances such as gluten-mediated damage to the intestinal wall, leading the way for:
- leaky gut
- skin problems
- the risk for cancer and chronic disease
Gluten is commonly added to processed kibble as a cheap source of protein, and some suggest that this may be contributing to increasing trends of allergies and chronic illness in our dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Gluten-Free Pasta?
This is not the best choice for your dog. Gluten-free pasta has the gluten stripped out of the flour, but also has less protein and fibre. It typically contains genetically modified corn and potato and xanthan gum. So it’s not really a better option than traditional pasta noodles.
Are there any healthier options for dogs? Yes!
Can Dogs Eat Rice Pasta?
A dog’s diet can include rice pasta because it is wheat-free and gluten-free, yet still has a chewy texture similar to wheat pasta. It has fewer carbohydrates and less fibre – and that’s all right. All in all, brown rice pasta is one of the healthiest choices for your dog. Choose organic to avoid toxic pesticides.
Can Dogs Eat Chickpea Pasta?
Plain chickpeas are high in protein and fibre and are often added to “grain-free” commercial dry and wet dog food products as a filler and protein source. Chickpea pasta is not toxic and can be given to dogs as an occasional treat, in small amounts. However, check labels and avoid chickpea pasta that contains pea starch, which has recently been linked to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) especially in large and giant breed dogs. If you feed your dog “grain-free” processed dry or wet food products, consider switching to a clean raw (or cooked) meat and vegetable diet.
Can Dogs Eat Corn Pasta?
Corn flour is wheat-free and gluten-free, and it is often used as a filler in dog food products. Sound safe? Not so fast. Corn is also one of the crops that is almost exclusively genetically modified (GM) to withstand high levels of pesticides. Corn may be considered a vegetable, but is actually processed and used as a grain for corn pasta. Dogs that have been fed corn-based food products can develop allergies and chronic health problems related to genetically modified food. So, it’s best to keep corn and corn pasta out of your dog’s healthy diet.
Can Dogs Eat Banza Pasta?
Banza pasta contains chick peas and pea starch (plus tapioca and xanthan gum). It is high in protein and fibre but be cautious about the added pea starch. Pea products are used as a thickener and protein replacement in banza and many “grain-free” dog food products. Recent research links pea starch to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (CDC), a type of heart disease in dogs that affects their heart muscle. Limit banza pasta to a rare treat, in small amounts. Check for pea products in processed dog “grain-free” dog food and avoid those for breeds most prone to heart disease (including several large and giant breeds as well as a fews smaller breeds and mixed breeds).
Can Dogs Eat Instant Noodles and Ramen?
Avoid giving your dogs instant or ramen noodles.
Pre-cooked noodles are convenient, but are are severely lacking in nutritional value and high in harmful ingredients like sodium, synthetic flavours, unhealthy oils and preservatives. Instant noodles can wreak havoc with kidney, brain and heart health through salt poisoning. Too much salt can affect a dog’s health, leading to vomiting, fever, seizures, pulmonary edema, lethargy, weakness, difficulty walking, coma and even death.
Can Dogs Eat Macaroni and Cheese?
Mac n’ cheese might be your favourite “people food”, but don’t share the store-bought kind with your favourite Fur Soul. Processed boxed versions of macaroni and cheese offer very little nutritional value and contain artificial ingredients that can be unhealthy.
Skip the boxed versions, and try our healthy home-made recipe for mac n’ cheese using brown rice pasta (or chickpea) noodles!
Can Dogs Eat Raw Pasta Noodles?
Don’t give your dog uncooked pasta. Sharp pieces can damage a dog’s mouth, throat and intestines and are difficult to digest.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Plain Pasta?
In small amounts, dogs can eat cooked, plain noodles but it’s not a nutritious meal. Stick with simple ingredients like plain organic brown rice or chickpea pasta. If you do give your dog long noodles like plain spaghetti, make sure it’s cut into small pieces to prevent choking.
Can Dogs Eat Pasta Sauce?
As a general rule, avoid giving your dog pasta sauces. Whether it’s marinara, Alfredo sauce, rose, pesto or spaghetti sauce, it’s best to avoid all. Small portions of cooked tomatoes (plain tomato sauce) or a teaspoon of olive oil are fine, but avoid all sauces with added salt, sugar, spices or other ingredients. Common ingredients like garlic, turmeric and black pepper can be used therapeutically for certain health conditions – check out our medicinal recipes for dogs here.
Can I Add Cheese to My Dog’s Pasta?
If you choose to give your dog a bit of plain pasta, you can add dairy products such as cottage cheese, goat, mozzarella or uncoloured cheddar cheese. However, make sure you know what cheese to give him, as some cheeses can be unhealthy or even dangerous. Find out the best and worst cheeses for dogs here.
How Much Pasta Can A Dog Eat?
Limit pasta to a few noodles for small dogs, and up to 1/4 cup for larger breeds – once in a while. Stick with small quantities of organic brown rice or chickpea pasta and make sure long noodles (like spaghetti) are cut up to avoid choking.
How Often Can I Feed My Dog Pasta?
If your dog has a wheat allergy, don’t feed pasta at all. It’s best to avoid all whole wheat, white, corn and gluten-free pasta noodles.
Organic brown rice or chickpea pasta can be given a few times a month for underweight or high-energy, working dogs that can burn off extra carbohydrates. Add a bit to their regular meal (keep it under 10% of their meal and don’t cut down their protein and fat source).
Can Dogs Eat Pasta for Upset Stomach and Diarrhea?
Some people offer plain rice to a dog with nausea or diarrhea and ask whether pasta is a similar option. Avoid pasta for dogs with digestive problems. Instead, stick with plain brown or white rice and consider adding boiled diced chicken, bone broth and a few teaspoons of pureed pumpkin to help upset tummies.
Be kind to all living beings. Respect the earth we share.