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After spending the afternoon roasting off a prime rib, it was hard to resist the temptation to slice a piece off for my dog. She’d spent the whole afternoon sitting in the kitchen, staring at the oven, a puddle of drool and anticipation pooling in front of her.

I made the roast beef as a treat for our family, and I wanted to include our dog in that special occasion, but I was worried that it may be bad for her or would set a bad precedent and cause negative behaviors in the future.

So can dogs have roast beef?

Roast beef and other cooked meats are fine for dogs if given in small, infrequent amounts as a treat. It must not have been cooked, seasoned, or sauced with any of the common ingredients that are harmful to dogs. Cooked beef bones are not safe for dogs.

The meat from roast beef, or pretty much any other meat that a person would eat, is fine for dogs to eat. The main thing to worry about with feeding dogs just plain meat is not giving them too much fat for their bodies to process at once, which includes strictly limited portion control.

However, most people aren’t planning on cooking up a plain, seasoning-free prime rib just for their dog. If you’re considering sharing dinner time with your dog or making them up a doggie bag, it’s important to look very closely at the ingredients that were used to prepare the beef.

Onions can be highly toxic to dogs and are called for in many beef recipes, either fresh and cooked alongside the meat or as a dried powder ingredient in seasoning mixes. 

While onions are one of the main red flags when feeding your dog cooked beef, there are other common cooking ingredients that may make feeding your dog roast beef a bad idea.

This is why it’s best to prepare meat for your dog separately from the meat you prepare for yourself. Simply boiling up a piece of beef you sliced off earlier is a healthier option than feeding them the roasted beef that you prepared for yourself.

If you want to go pro with your dog chef skills, pick up a dog-friendly flavor seasoning shaker like this one on Amazon that you can use to add deliciousness to your dog’s meal, before or after you cook it. You can count on these to be free of anything that may harm your dog.

Not only are the ingredients in roast beef potentially hazardous, but you need to be careful not to feed your dog too much animal fat.

It’s common for folks to want to give their dog the extra fat they trimmed off their meal at the end of dinner, but dogs, especially dogs who are accustomed to their typical low-fat kibble-diet, are likely to have upset stomachs, gas, diarrhea, or vomiting after eating even a surprisingly small amount of fatty mean.

If they eat too much, they could develop pancreatitis, a dangerous condition that can become life-threatening in as little as 24 hours.

If you give your dog too much fatty food, like roast beef, the enzymes that their pancreas produces to aid in digestion begin to work while they are still inside their pancreas, damaging it and the surrounding organs and tissues. If left untreated, this can cause organ failure and death.

Basically, if you give your dog too much roast beef or any fatty food for that matter, you run the risk of causing their bodies to begin to digest themselves.

That said, roast beef can be an excellent treat for your dog and a fantastic way to bond and bring them closer into the family through shared experiences and meals. 

Just make sure you aren’t training any bad habits into your dog by teaching them that begging is acceptable or that your food is their food too.

These dogs apparently get the memo that begging is not OK!

You just need to know when to say no and what to avoid to keep your dog happy and healthy. If you’re still not sure if you can break a piece of that roast beef off for our dog, read on for more in-depth advice.

Is Roast Beef Bad For Dogs? 

Plain roast beef is an extremely healthy treat for dogs. Roast beef can be a lean, rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals and can be used as an affordable homemade treat for your dog. It’s not suitable as a dietary staple and should be used only as a treat.

A high-quality, well-balanced dog food Should contain all of the necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins, and every other essential building block your dog needs to maintain their overall health.

Roast beef is rich in the following vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy, natural supplement for your dog:

  • Vitamins B12 and B6
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorous
  • Niacin
  • Selenium

Roast beef can come from any cut of the cow, some fattier than others. Healthier options for your dog come from leaner cuts of beef.

Luckily, leaner cuts of beef are typically the more affordable ones. The following are considered “extra lean” cuts of beef by the USDA and are also some of the most affordable cuts, making them great options for roast beef for you and your dog:

  • Sirloin tip side steak
  • Top round roast and steak
  • Eye of round roast and steak
  • Bottom round roast and steak

When roasted very simply with minimal, safe ingredients, roast beef makes an excellent treat for your dog. Just a treat though, not their full diet.

Treats should only make up about 10% of your dog’s daily diet. So if you are going to feed your dog roast beef, keep this number in mind as you portion out their serving and consider what else they’ve eaten during the day.

Treats can and should be used as a supplement to enrich their lives and provide your dog with other healthy sources of nutrition besides their regular food. 

The beef isn’t typically the issue when it comes to feeding your dog roast beef. More often than not it’s the ingredients that it’s prepared with that make it an unsuitable snack for your dog.

Roast Beef For Dogs: Ingredients To Avoid

Salt is a staple on every roast beef recipe for people. Indeed, we put salt in or on almost everything we eat. 

Small amounts of salt are necessary for almost all living things, as it’s a necessary source of sodium. But people, generally, consume way more salt than they necessarily need in pursuit of delicious food.

Roast beef can be extremely salty, much too salty for your dog. This is especially true in the case of beef-based lunch meat which has a whole host of other problems beyond just salt, too.

Keep in mind that your dog is (probably) much smaller than you. A couple of salty bites of roast beef can easily contain way more than the recommended amount of daily sodium for a dog. 

The amount of salt you used in preparing the roast beef should be seriously considered before you give your dog any of it, and that includes looking for sources of salt you might not consider, like premixed seasonings and rubs.

Sugar is another common ingredient that could make its way into a roast beef recipe. Sugar does basically the same thing to dogs that it does to humans: hyperactivity, upset stomach, lethargy, weight gain, cavities, diabetes, and dehydration.

Again though, your dog is much smaller than you and will more rapidly feel negative effects from consuming sugar than people. It’s actually not recommended that you give your dog any form of sugar.

Brown sugar and honey are commonly used when roasting beef and should be pretty easy for you to recognize as “too much sugar” for your dog.

But sugar creeps into many different ingredients you may not immediately recognize, like barbeque sauce, ketchup, canned fruit like pineapple, and even mustard contain high amounts of sugar.

If you’ve used any of these ingredients, you should skip giving your dog any roast beef because it likely contains more sugar than your dog should have.

Besides salt and sugar, below are few other ingredients you may have used to make roast beef. The list below contains poisonous and dangerous ingredients in roast beef that you should not feed to your dog:

  • Macadamia nuts and almonds
  • Chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Chives
  • Avocado
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Any of these could be used in a dry rub or a sauce or just in the pan that you cooked the roast beef. The above ingredients contain chemicals that are dangerous to dogs like caffeine,  theobromine, and N-propyl disulfide, among others, which are potentially life-threatening.

Knowing what your dog can and cannot have is the first step to making a decision about whether or not you can give your dog any roast beef.

Feed Your Best Friend Better is an excellent resource by Rick Woodford if you are considering making homemade food more a part of your dog’s diet. He emphasizes whole foods and healthy, simple ingredients and his book even has a roast beef recipe for dogs! 

If you don’t know what’s in the roasts beef, like if it was a gift or leftovers from a restaurant or a friend’s house, best to play it safe and avoid giving them any.

Other Reasons Not To Give Your Dog Roast Beef

Portion Control

Dog’s have no “off” switch when it comes to food, especially if it’s a delicious treat like roast beef. 

It’s up to you to make responsible decisions about how much your dog eats because they definitely will not. 

A dog will eat until it gets sick and it won’t take much roast beef for your dog to get “too much” and potentially get sick.

Just portion out a small amount, not more than 10% of their daily food intake, and give them a firm “No” when your dog comes up asking for more.


I’d like to think this one is a no-brainer, but of, course, don’t feed your dog anything too hot that may burn their mouths. They don’t have the ability to think about how hot a delicious piece of food is before they put it in their mouths, so let it cool down before you give any to your dog.

Bad Behavior

This is probably the biggest factor to consider once you’ve decided to give your dog roast beef.

Anything out of the ordinary could potentially throw your dog off their schedule and position them to try new behaviors to get what they want.

Let’s face it, roast beef sounds much better than a bowl of crunchy kibble. Be prepared to see new behaviors in your dog when you bring roast beef into the mix.

They may beg for more, which may be baleful eyes or openly baying and barking for more.

If they’re fed regularly, they may begin to anticipate and predict more food coming and start doing annoying behaviors like following you around every time you grab a plate.

While it’s tempting to want to bring your dog in for a family dinner of roast beef, it can easily illicit negative behaviors in even the most well-trained dogs.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re giving your dog roast beef:

  • Never feed them roast beef from the table
    • This just encourages them to think that the food on the table is also food for them. They may start begging every time you sit down or trying to sneak food off of the table now that they know it’s there. 
    • While you may be able to manage this behavior, well-meaning guests or children may fall for it and give your dog a treat from the table, reinforcing the bad behavior
  • Feed them roast beef at the end of your meal or once you’re done
    • Otherwise, they’re going to quickly finish their treat and spend the rest of the meal looking for more.
    • Teaching them to wait with good behavior for their treat teaches your dog self-control.
  • Don’t feed them in the kitchen
    • Pick a place, maybe near their bed or where you keep their toys, to feed them. Otherwise, they’re likely to associate the kitchen with snacks.
    • Dogs in the kitchen are dangerous to themselves and the people cooking, so encourage them to eat and anticipate their food out of the way of the action
  • Make them work for it
    • Don’t just give your dog a treat when they are asking for it.
    • Instead, ask them to sit and stay or do another trick that exercises their mind, reinforces that they must pay attention to you, and continues to build their self-control
    • Encouraging self-control is the most important thing you can do when you introduce high-value treats like roast beef.
  • Don’t let them get away with bad behavior
    • High-value treats like roast beef are likely to bring out the worst in your dog in their desperate bids to get more delicious food.
    • If you tell them to sit and they don’t, do not give them any roast beef! 
    • It’s a special treat for them, you worked to make it or pay for it after all. Your dog needs to show you respect by doing what you say and not being overly demanding when you are giving them roast beef.
    • Again, teaching them self control is vital or you’ll end up with a roast-beef demon dog

Dogs Eating Roast Beef

So long as you avoid giving your dog any roast beef with poisonous ingredients like onions, roast beef is a perfectly safe treat for your dog when given in moderation.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of ingredients out there you may not know contain harmful ingredients, like barbeque sauces and dry rubs containing coffee or other caffeine-laden substances. 

And never give your dog too many fatty foods. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily intake of calories, and roast beef is extremely calorie-rich. So portion control matters a great deal.

And remember also that roast beef is an extremely high-value treat that may illicit bad behaviors from your dog. You will need to be responsible for making sure that you channel their excitement for this delicious reward into positive behaviors.

Bon Appetit! 

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