Can Humans Eat Dog Food In An Emergency? Is It Safe?

Can Humans Eat Dog Food In An Emergency

In moments of crisis, it is pretty common to look for sources of food that do not take up too much of your financial resources. You may consider all kinds of options, including food that has been processed or made for pets. Can humans eat dog food in an emergency? It is a debatable topic.

Whether you can eat dog food depends on a lot of factors. Because of how companies make dog food, some of them might be good to consume. And some others might be harmful immediately or in the long run. Either way, you will have to do your research before you open a can of dog food for eating.

In the case of an emergency, though, it is okay to consume dog food. This only applies if you do it once or twice without any knowledge of what is in the food. So, before you get into the situation, it is best to know what your body might have to deal with.

What Ingredients Are in Your Dog Food?

Dog food is a good source of nutrition for your dog. But how do the ingredients compare when you use them to fulfill human nutrition requirements? You might be surprised, but dog food can be very nutritious, even for us. Aside from the harmful ingredients in certain types of dog food, they mostly consist of ingredients that humans consume regularly.


Dog food is either dry or wet. But in both cases, it means fulfilling all the nutritional checkboxes for a dog. This means the food contains carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that a dog might need. It is important to remember that dogs will need a diet higher in protein content compared to that of a similar-sized human.

So when you take dog food for energy, keep in mind that the protein content is much higher than what you would expect from human food. For reference, ideally, dog food should contain 40% protein, 50% vegetables, and 10% starch. And for a human being, the proportions should be mostly carbs, about 30% from fats, and about 10-35% from protein.

So, for an instant boost of energy or as an emergency, you can eat dog food. But this also means it is likely very harmful to your digestive organs in the long run.

Animal Byproducts

If you go in-depth into what goes into dog food, you might find it a bit gross. But it is not all gross; it is just raw ingredients and animal byproducts that people are not generally interested in. An average can of dog food contains raw meat, ground bones, and internal organs that we generally avoid.

This list of ingredients includes tripe, offal, scraps of meat, damaged animal parts, and skin. While these ingredients can be safe to eat under hygienic circumstances, your body may have a hard time digesting them depending on how much experience you have with them.

Cooking and processing these items is the key to making sure they are safe to eat for humans. So if the ingredient list does not gross you out, you should still check out whether the type of food you are planning to eat is hygienic or not. After you confirm that, you are free to eat and hope for the best.

Vitamin K3 Or Menadione

There are a lot of different vitamins and minerals added to dog food to make it nutritious. While a lot of these are good for the human body, there is one that you should feel a little concerned about. It is known as menadione, which is vitamin K3. It is safe for the dog to consume this, but it is toxic for human beings in large amounts.

In commercial dog food, you will not find enough menadione to cause harm to your body. But the tiny amounts can add up quickly if you are eating dog food for a long period of time. It also has some effect on your body, even if it is a small amount. So, it is generally advisable to avoid dog food that contains this type of vitamin.

Before you buy any commercial dog food, make sure to check whether it contains menadione. If the information is not available on the label, contact the manufacturer to confirm.

What Happens When You Eat Dog Food?

As long as you know what is in your dog food, you can confirm whether it is safe to consume or not. But perhaps you can not find out, and you are curious about what your body will go through when you eat it. In that case, here is what happens.

What Dog Food Tastes Like

The smell of dog food is enough to discourage many people from investigating it more. But in reality, the taste of dog food is a long range of bland flavors. It is dry, hard to chew, and tastes like nothing special until you notice some of the tiny bits of flavor.

The dry food can taste like grains or oatmeal, with slight hints of chicken or other meats. And people describe the taste and texture of wet food as more prominent. It can taste like meat and leave an old-meat taste in your mouth.

Immediate Risks

Since dog food does not go through the same hygiene checking processes as human food, it may contain harmful elements. When it comes to dry food, unopened packages of food are safer for human consumption. Still, you should be careful about open containers contracting bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.

On the other hand, canned dog food is safer to eat because the heating process can cut out most of the possible food borne illnesses. Make sure to store them properly, or else it is easy for them to go bad without you noticing.

Long-term Health Risks

The long-term effects of eating dog food are more concerning than the short-term. This is due to our digestive systems not being able to handle the dog food as well as the dogs themselves.

Vitamin Imbalances

The main concerns with vitamins when it comes to the long-term risk of dog food consumption are the absence of one, and the abundance of another. This is because dog food does not contain vitamin C, something that is important for human bodies.

Dogs can produce vitamin C in their bodies, so their food does not have it. So if you are only eating dog food for more than a couple of weeks, you may start showing vitamin C deficiency symptoms.

It additionally contains high amounts of vitamin A, which is way too much for a human body’s capacity. The levels of this vitamin in dog food can make you suffer from hypervitaminosis A, or bone pain, and other changes as well. Because of this, you need to make sure your vitamin A levels are normal.

Acid Reaction

Since dog food contains high amounts of protein, their bodies have the ability to digest it. This is because of the large quantity of stomach acid in a dog’s digestive system. Their levels of stomach acid can be 10 to 100 times greater than ours as humans.

So the abundance of protein is likely to cause some bad reactions in your metabolic system. Make sure the dog food you eat is in the proper amounts.


From all the information you know now, the idea of dog food for humans may seem less interesting. But can humans eat dog food in an emergency? Yes, but with proper knowledge and moderation. So make sure to always know what the container has before you consume it.

Kevin Noyes

Hey there, I'm Kevin, a former infantry soldier in the U.S. Army. I've been through it all - from grueling training to intense combat situations. Now, I'm here to spill the beans on survival. None of that dry, textbook stuff - I'm talking real-world, practical tips to help you conquer any wild situation. From setting up camp to keeping your cool, we'll tackle it all together! So let's dive in and get ready to rock the survival game!

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