Mayonnaise is a favorite condiment for many people. Most dogs love human food, especially foods that are rich, fatty, and flavorful. You may be tempted to let your pooch enjoy a taste of food that contains this ingredient, but can dogs eat mayonnaise without problems? Mayo can be quite tasty to dogs, but it's not necessarily healthy for them to eat.
Is Mayo Safe for Dogs?
Mayonnaise contains no ingredients that are toxic to dogs. It is an emulsion of oil and egg yolks with some added acidity like vinegar or lemon juice for flavor. Some recipes may also include mustard or other seasonings. None of these pose a risk of poisoning dogs.
However, mayo has a high-fat content that can cause problems for dogs if eaten in excess. A sudden increase in fat consumption can cause gastrointestinal upset. Regular consumption of fatty foods like mayo may increase the risk of pancreatitis in dogs, a painful inflammation of the pancreas. This is especially true if your dog has a history of this condition or a genetic predisposition to pancreas problems.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Mayonnaise
If your dog only has a few licks of mayo, then you probably have nothing to worry about. However, if you find that your dog has eaten a large amount, you should contact your veterinarian for advice.
How can you tell if your dog ate too much mayo? There is no specific answer to this question because every dog is different. A small dog may experience gastrointestinal issues or pancreatitis after just a few teaspoons of mayo while a large dog would likely need to eat several tablespoons or even a few cups of mayo to get sick.
Dogs with a genetic predisposition to pancreatitis or those with a history of pancreatitis are often more sensitive and can get sick from smaller amounts of high-fat foods. If your dog falls into this category, then it's best to contact your vet for advice. Your vet may recommend an exam and blood tests to see if the pancreas has been affected.
Contact your vet right away if your dog experiences diarrhea, vomiting, or any other signs of illness after eating mayonnaise.
Alternatives to Mayonnaise
If you are looking for something tasty to add to dog food or treats, there are better options than mayo. Besides being high in fat, calories, and possibly sodium, mayo has no nutritional benefits.
Full-fat plain Greek yogurt contains about one-tenth of the fat of mayonnaise but has a creamy texture. Plus, probiotics in yogurt may be beneficial to your dog's gut and the protein content is good for most dogs.
Choose plain yogurt that does not contain a lot of sugar. If your dog is sensitive to dairy products, look for a dairy-free substitute. Be sure to check the label for ingredients. Never feed yogurt with artificial sweeteners, especially xylitol as this can be highly toxic to dogs.
Although peanut butter is only slightly lower in fat than mayonnaise, a little bit goes a long way. Mix up to a tablespoon of peanut butter into your dog's food or treats for a tasty snack. The protein is good for most dogs and can help make them feel satisfied. Once again, avoid products with added sugar and never feed peanut butter with xylitol or other artificial sweeteners.
Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
Full-fat cottage cheese ranks close to mayonnaise in fat content, but the low-fat variety is safe for dogs that can tolerate dairy. Like yogurt, cottage cheese contains probiotics and protein that can be beneficial to dogs. Just keep the amount to a minimum and watch how your dog tolerates it.
Everything in Moderation - Including Mayo
Remember that moderation is key. It's important to remember that snacks and treats should make up no more than ten percent of your dog's food intake. So, letting your dog lick your plate is probably fine, even if the food contains a bit of mayo. However, it's best not to feed your dog a bunch of leftovers, regardless of the ingredients. In addition to causing GI upset, too much human food can upset the balance of nutrients in your dog's diet and increase the risk of obesity.
You know your dog better than anyone, so use your best judgment when it comes to special treats. If you know your dog has a sensitive stomach, then everything you feed should be lean and relatively bland.