12 Things You Can Feed Your Dog When Out of Dog Food

It happens to just about every pet owner sooner or later: You go to feed your dog their supper, only to remember with horror that you gave them the last of their kibble for breakfast that morning.

It’s too late to go to the store, so what do you do?

Don’t panic. Chances are that you have plenty of food lying around the house that you can feed your dog to get you out of this pinch. None of the foods below should be given to your dog as their full-time diet, but they can all help you get out of a jam for a meal or two.

divider 10Before We Begin: Things to Look For in a Makeshift Dog Food

The list below isn’t comprehensive, so besides telling you what foods are okay to give your dog, we’re going to teach you what to look for in a temporary kibble substitute.

The main thing you want is to combine a lean protein with a complex carbohydrate. That gives your dog a nice balance of nutrients and long-lasting energy, so they should stay satiated until their next meal.

Avoid any human foods high in sodium and fat. While these can eliminate hunger, they’re incredibly unhealthy for your dog. If you give your dog enough of either ingredient, you run the risk of causing pancreatitis or sodium poisoning, either of which can be fatal.

Hopefully, this goes without saying, but double-check any food before giving it to your dog to make sure it isn’t toxic to pups. Grapes, chocolate, and macadamia nuts are just a few of the foods that you should never offer a pooch (for a more comprehensive list, click here ).

Finally, remember that it’s not the end of the world if your dog misses one meal. As long as they’re not at death’s door, they can skip a meal without missing a beat. It’s much better to let your dog go hungry for 12 hours than it is to feed them a horribly unhealthy substitute.

The Best Foods to Give Your Dog (and the Pros and Cons of Each)

The list below is not comprehensive, so use it as a guideline rather than a hard-and-fast rule. Also, you’ll want to combine several of the foods below if possible so you have an equal mix of lean protein and complex carbs.

1. Cooked Chicken

Funny photo of a bad dog with paws on kitchen counter_susan schmitz_shutterstock
Credit: Susan Schmitz, Shutterstock

There’s a reason that chicken is a staple in many dog foods, and that’s because it’s fantastic for your pet. It’s extremely filling and packed with lean protein — and most dogs find it irresistible. Just don’t season it before you serve it.

Don’t give your dog raw chicken, though, as it can be contaminated with salmonella and other microbes. Also, remove any bones before feeding, as cooked chicken bones can break and become lodged in your dog’s esophagus or puncture their intestines during digestion.

Pros
  • Lean protein
  • Dogs love taste
Cons
  • Has to be cooked
  • Need to remove bones before feeding

2. Plain Yogurt

Yellow bowl with yogurt and the head of a small dog_varvara serebrova_shuttterstock
Credit: Varvara Serebrova, Shutterstock

Plain yogurt is another fantastic food for dogs and one that you might want to consider adding to your pup’s kibble (once you restock, anyway). It’s loaded with probiotics, which help digestion, so it’s also a good choice for serving if your dog comes down with diarrhea or other digestive issues.

Many yogurts are packed with sugar and other questionable ingredients, though, so make sure the one you give your dog is plain and organic, if possible. Also, some dogs have problems digesting dairy, so you may want to skip this one if your pooch has a milk allergy.

Pros
  • Has probiotics
  • Good for digestive issues
Cons
  • Many brands are packed with sugar
  • Not all dogs tolerate dairy well

3. Eggs

dog eat soft-boiled eggs_kphrom_shutterstock
Credit: Kphrom, Shutterstock

Most dogs love eggs, and it doesn’t matter how you prepare them (although if you cook them over-easy, you get the pleasure of watching your dog lick up all the yolk). Eggs are another high-protein food and they’re cheap.

As with dairy, some dogs don’t tolerate eggs well, so they may have digestive issues afterward. Eggs are also packed with calories, but if you only feed them to your dog in an emergency, it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Some dogs have issues digesting them
  • High in calories

4. Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato
Image Credit: Sanjay Acharya, Wikimedia Commons

Sweet potatoes are a great veggie for dogs, as they’re high in fiber and rich in a variety of vitamins. They also take a long time to break down, ensuring that your dog stays full for hours.

They are quite starchy, which could lead to weight gain over time, but we’re not dealing with the long term here. Be sure you cook them, though, as raw sweet potatoes can cause potentially deadly intestinal blockages.

Pros
  • High in fiber
  • Take a long time to digest
Cons
  • Starchy
  • Can cause blockages if served raw

5. Broccoli

broccoli
Image Credit: Pxhere

Broccoli is one of the absolute best foods you can feed your mutt (and it’s not bad for you, either!). It’s packed with all sorts of nutrients and is equally good served cooked or raw.

Just don’t overdo it, as feeding your dog too much broccoli can actually be toxic. Luckily, it takes many florets to get to that point, so you should be fine. You’ll likely have more of a challenge getting your dog to eat any than getting them to eat too much.

Pros
  • Nutritious
  • Can be served cooked or raw
Cons
  • Too much can be toxic
  • Many dogs don’t like taste

6. Low-Sodium Cold Cuts

cold cuts
Image Credit: Pikist

It’s important to understand that “cold cuts” is not referring to processed bologna or similar. Instead, we mean low-sodium cuts of turkey and ham bought fresh from the deli.

Dogs will love it, but feeding them enough to fill them up can get expensive. Also, there’s not much in deli meat, nutritionally speaking, except for protein.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • Dogs love it
Cons
  • Fairly pricey
  • Doesn’t offer much in terms of nutrition

7. Oatmeal

Fun and healthy breakfast idea for kids_anastasia panait_shutterstock
Credit: Anastasia Panait, Shutterstock

A bowl of plain oatmeal may be just what the doctor ordered for your pooch. It’s full of fiber and extremely gentle on tummies, so the brief change in diet shouldn’t cause too many digestive issues.

Make sure you don’t add any sugar or other additives, though. Of course, if you don’t add sugar, you may not be able to get your dog to eat it, so it’s kind of a catch-22.

Pros
  • Large amount of fiber
  • Gentle on stomachs
Cons
  • Fairly bland
  • Can’t be served with sugar or other additives

8. Salmon

young hungry white labrador retriever dog puppy smells and eats a fish head_manushot_shutterstock
Credit: Manushot, Shutterstock

Just about any fish is good for dogs, and salmon is the best of the bunch. It’s filled with protein and omega fatty acids, which helps keep your dog’s coat, eyes, and brain healthy.

Be sure to cook it thoroughly, though, as undercooked salmon can have a deadly parasite in it. Also, depending on where the fish is caught, it could be high in mercury or other contaminants.

Pros
  • High in protein
  • Filled with omega fatty acids
Cons
  • Dangerous if not thoroughly cooked
  • Can be high in mercury and other contaminants

9. Rice

Image Credit: Anna Frodesiak, Wikimedia Commons

Rice is gentle on stomachs and easy to prepare. It also pairs perfectly with many of the meats on this list, as it helps to add inexpensive bulk to the meal.

It has a high glycemic index, though, which could spell trouble for dogs with health issues like diabetes. Too much can also cause constipation, so try to limit the amount you feed your pup.

Pros
  • Gentle on tummies
  • Pairs well with meat
Cons
  • High glycemic index
  • Can cause constipation in large amounts

10. Ground Beef

ground beef
Image Credit: Adam Inlay, Pexels

Ground beef is an excellent choice because you can completely control the protein/fat ratio, and it’s easy to prepare. There’s not much risk to your dog if you undercook it either (although we don’t recommend it).

There’s not much downside to ground beef, other than it’s expensive and you’ll need to drain the grease. Just be sure you don’t season it — and no, this doesn’t give you an excuse to take your dog to McDonald’s.

Pros
  • Easy to control protein/fat ratio
  • Not risky if undercooked
Cons
  • On the pricey side
  • Have to drain the grease before serving

11. Mild Cheese

Pug dog waiting for a permission to eat cheese_mariia boiko_shutterstock
Credit: Mariia Boiko, Shutterstock

Colby Jack and cheddar are two kinds of cheese that most dogs love (assuming that they aren’t lactose intolerant, of course). They have quite a bit of calcium and vitamin A, both of which are essential for healthy skin and bones.

It’s packed with fat, though, so don’t feed your pooch too much, or you’ll run the risk of pancreatitis. Also, the more you feed your dog, the more likely you’ll have to deal with a constipated pet for a few days.

Pros
  • Dogs love taste
  • Has calcium and vitamin A
Cons
  • High in fat
  • Can cause constipation

12. Beef or Chicken Broth

chicken broth
Image Credit: E4024, Wikimedia Commons

While this isn’t enough to be a meal, a little broth can be a lifesaver if your dog is turning their nose up at one of the foods above. It’s a great way to get your dog to eat rice and broccoli, for example.

You have to use it sparingly, though, as it’s high in sodium.

Pros
  • Adds flavor to healthier foods
Cons
  • Not a meal in and of itself
  • High in sodium

Divider 3A Nutritious Meal in a Pinch

There’s a good chance that you have at least some of the foods listed above in your kitchen right now, so there’s no need to panic the next time that you run out of dog kibble.

Rustling up a quick, nutritious meal for your dog is easy, and in many cases, your dog will find the substitute food just as appetizing as their regular chow.

Just be sure to switch your dog back to their regular food as soon as possible. Not only will that reduce the risk of an upset stomach, but it will also prevent your dog from thinking that “personal chef” is part of your job title.


Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock