Dog looking up at bowl of meat.

Can My Dog Eat This?: Emergency Dog Food Alternatives

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has evolved more quickly than most pet owners could’ve anticipated. Across the country, all but essential businesses have shut their doors and Americans are hunkering down for an indefinite quarantine.

It’s still possible to head out for pet food, but there’s no guarantee that shelves will remain stocked for very long. Even well-prepared dog owners could find themselves scraping the bottom of the bag in the next several weeks.

Your personal supplies and local pet aisles have both run dry? There’s no need to panic. Dogs and dog owners alike can subsist on many of the same fridge and pantry staples.

Rules of Thumb

Before you head to the kitchen to whip a homemade meal together, make sure you’re keeping these three guidelines in mind:

You don’t have to be a vet to prepare a healthful meal, but you should take your vet’s advice seriously. Adhere to any special guidelines they’ve given regarding your dog’s diet.

Safe Table Food

If you’ve cooked recently, feeding the family dog could be as simple as tossing some leftovers in their bowl. Rover suggests that recently-cooked meats, grains, and vegetables are all safe for canine consumption, so long as they’re not overly oiled or seasoned.

Plain meats and all-natural cold cuts are perhaps the best protein option for a hungry dog, but even vegetarians should have plenty of options in their fridges. Mild cheese, low-fat yogurt, and eggs are all suitable protein sources. In the event of a prolonged quarantine, canned meats and vegetables could also provide a shelf-stable alternative to fresh foods.

Unsafe Table Food

As you can see, your dog has plenty of options if wet or dry food supplies ever run out. It’s important to remember, however, that many human foods lack necessary nutrients and several more are toxic to dogs.

The American Kennel Club and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals caution dog owners away from these foods:

In general, you should also avoid anything that’s overly fatty, salty, sweet, or spicy. Anything you’d call junk food is even worse for your dog. Keep an eye out for artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives, too. These can make your dog sluggish and depressed in the long term.

Stay Safe and Calm

The COVID-19 outbreak remains a developing story. Pet owners are advised to keep themselves informed by identifying credible sources and to follow all government guidelines. You can’t give COVID-19 to your pet (or get it from them), but hygiene best practices are still encouraged. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and avoid unnecessary trips out of the house.