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Can Dogs Eat Spaghetti Sauce? Health Facts & Safety Advice

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By Nicole Cosgrove

a jar of spaghetti sauce

If you’re enjoying a lovely Italian dish, you may look over to see big pouting eyes—just begging ever-so-politely for a bite. Or maybe your naughty boy or girl got into some spaghetti leftovers. Regardless of the reason, you want to know—is spaghetti sauce safe for your dog to eat?

The answer here is a definite no! Your dog should never eat traditional spaghetti sauce. But wait, isn’t spaghetti sauce essentially just crushed tomatoes? Kind of—let’s dig deeper to find out why it’s a big negative.

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What Makes Spaghetti Sauce Bad for Dogs?

Pasta on Dog Bowl_shutterstock_GIOVANNI RAUCCI
Image Credit: GIOVANNI RAUCCI, Shutterstock

The biggest reason dogs can’t eat spaghetti sauce is because it contains tons of ingredients that are either super harmful or not so good for your dog.

Many premade spaghetti sauces come with all kinds of veggies, spices, and herbs that your dog can’t digest. Let’s break down the contents.


Tomatoes are generally safe for dogs to eat unless they are green—which you don’t have to worry about in spaghetti sauce. However, you do have to worry about potential upset bellies and diarrhea since tomatoes are very high in acid.

It also could cause an allergic reaction in some canines. It can also aggravate preexisting conditions like gastrointestinal issues and acid reflux.


Garlic is a widespread ingredient in almost all spaghetti sauce. Garlic is highly toxic to dogs in both raw and powder forms.

It contains five times the amount of potency as onions, which can damage red blood cells. Even though your dog probably wouldn’t eat enough garlic in spaghetti sauce to cause detrimental effects, you should still avoid it at all costs.


Onions are also toxic to pets, just not on such a large scale. Since onions and garlic are usually used in unison in spaghetti sauce, it definitely amps up the potency.

You should always keep dogs away from anything in the onion family in all forms—whether raw, powder, or salt.


In large quantities, salt can cause sodium ion poisoning. It’s unlikely that spaghetti sauce has enough salt for poisoning actually to take place, but it’s still not a healthy choice for your dog.

Too much salt can also cause dehydration and increased thirst in your pooch.

Black Pepper 

Small amounts of black pepper are usually no concern for dogs. However, if they have too much, it can cause a severe upset stomach.

sad labrador
Image By: Amy_Gillard, Pixabay

Summary of Ingredients

As you can see, almost every main ingredient in traditional spaghetti sauce causes adverse reactions for your dog. You can imagine how eating this combination could wreak havoc on their digestive system—and possibly your carpet, too—yikes.

Even though some dogs might not display visible discomfort, spaghetti sauce should be avoided at all costs.

Signs of Toxicity

Most of the time, if your dog gets into a little spaghetti sauce without permission, it won’t cause many side effects. But if they guzzle down quite a bit, you need to watch for signs of toxicity in your dog. It’s especially true if your recipe has lots of added ingredients that are toxic.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you might be on your way to the vet:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Excessive panting
  • Wobbly stance
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Increased heart rate

Some dogs will be more sensitive than others.

What to Do if Your Dog Ate Spaghetti Sauce

If your dog ate spaghetti sauce, you’ll need to monitor them closely. Small amounts may pass through without any noticeable change in your dog. However, if they are very sensitive or had too much of some of the ingredients mentioned above, you might need to evaluate them.

Call your vet right away if you’re unsure just how much they ingested. They can give you specific instructions on how to handle the situation.

Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?

Ripe tomatoes are usually fine for dogs. However, green tomatoes, stems, and tops contain solanine, which can be harmful in large quantities. Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison that is very toxic to dogs.

If you offer any tomatoes to your dog, make sure they are ready to eat.

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Dogs and Spaghetti Sauce: Final Thoughts

So, if you were thinking of letting your pup wine and dine with you for a fantastic Italian feast, the answer is no—they can’t. It’s always best to do just what you did, educating yourself about your pup’s overall health so you can make the best dietary choices possible for them.

And if your dog got into some sauce, always call your vet to be on the safe side so you can be ready to tackle problems, should they arise.

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