Diet problems

What to Feed Your Dog When You’re Out of Dog Food

Laura García Ortiz
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. August 22, 2022
What to Feed Your Dog When You’re Out of Dog Food

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All of us have been there: it's dinnertime and as you go to the kitchen to fill your dog's bowl, you realize you are out of dog food. As you ponder what to do, you decide it's time to get creative with the food you have on hand. You probably have the ingredients for one or two meals for your dog until you can buy regular dog food again. However, before you put together a meal, you should know which foods are healthy for dogs and which ones to avoid.

The following AnimalWised article explains what you can feed your dog if you run out of dog food.

You may also be interested in: Food You Can't Feed to Ferrets


  1. What to do when you run out of dog food
  2. Meat and fish
  3. Cereals and tubers
  4. Vegetables and legumes
  5. Fruits
  6. Getting your dog back on their normal diet

What to do when you run out of dog food

Dogs have a different digestive system than humans. This means that some foods that are safe for humans can be harmful or even very dangerous for dogs. However, many human foods are also safe for dogs and can provide important nutrients and health benefits. Fortunately, you already have a wide variety of foods in your pantry and refrigerator that your dog can safely eat.

Before you rummage through your kitchen to find something for your dog, there are a few things you should consider:

  • Avoid salty, spicy, sugary or fatty foods: Anything less than plain can cause digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. A dog's palate is not exactly refined, so the meal you prepare may not be a well-seasoned culinary delight.

  • Avoid toxic and processed foods: Certain human foods are toxic to dogs, including grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic.

  • Consider your dog's allergies and health conditions: Food allergies in dogs are usually caused by meat-based proteins, such as chicken and beef. Chronic health conditions such as kidney or liver disease require a low-fat diet. When considering what to prepare for your dog, choose a meal that will not aggravate a food allergy or exacerbate a chronic disease.

If you want to learn more about your dog's diet, do not miss the following article, where we will present you some recipes and ideas for a homemade meal that is both healthy and safe for your dog.

What to Feed Your Dog When You’re Out of Dog Food - What to do when you run out of dog food

Meat and fish

Dogs can eat all kinds of meat and fish. However, make sure the pieces do not contain bones that can splinter and cause harm, or bones in their digestive tract. These can also be harmful, although to a lesser degree, especially for small dogs.

Chicken, turkey, lean ground beef and chuck steak, roast beef and fish are animal proteins that make a good contribution to your dog's diet. However, before you give your dog meat or fish, you must follow these rules:

  • Meat and fish should be cooked and not offered raw to avoid the risk of transmitting pathogens such as parasites. For example, tapeworms such as Echinococcus granulosus can be found in fish. In addition, eating fish or its raw organ meats can cause a deficiency of thiamine, also known as vitamin B1.

  • Avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage because of their high sodium and fat content.

  • Cut meat and all other human foods into easy-to-chew pieces.

  • Old, moldy or spoiled meat is not OK and can be hazardous to your dog's health.

  • Avoid additional oils and seasonings.

  • Meat should be lean (at least 80% lean).

  • Boil the meat rather than frying or grilling.

Continue reading this other article if you want to learn more about the effects of raw meat on your dog.

Cereals and tubers

Dogs typically have a high tolerance for carbohydrates and can derive a large percentage of their daily calories from carbohydrates. One of the most dramatic genetic differences between dogs and wolves is that dogs have many more copies of the gene that codes for amylase, the pancreatic enzyme used to digest starch. This suggests that they evolved from wolves to better process carbohydrates. The foods with the highest amounts of healthy carbohydrates that we can offer our dogs are the following:

  • Sweet potato: it contains a large amount of nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as 20 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of sweet potato. If you want to learn more about the healthy benefits of sweet potatoes and how to incorporate them into your dog's diet, read this other article to find out if sweet potatoes are safe for dogs.

  • Potatoes: you can give small pieces of cooked, ripe potatoes that are not fried or bagged. They provide 17 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of potatoes, as well as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and zinc. You should not feed raw or green potatoes because they contain solanine, a toxic compound that prevents acetylcholinesterase from working. Consequently, acetylcholine levels rise, causing digestive, respiratory, and urinary secretions to increase and heart rate to decrease. The same compound is also present in green tomatoes, peppers and raw eggplants. Therefore, we should not feed them to our dogs.

  • Rice: it is a good source of carbohydrates, namely 28 grams per 100 grams of rice, and also very digestible and low in fiber. The main nutrients it provides include vitamins B1, B2, B3, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, iron, and zinc.

Vegetables and legumes

Feeding vegetables is a great way to keep your dog healthy if we ran out of their usual food. Just like us, dogs need a variety of organic foods and nutrients for a balanced diet. Vegetables are rich in fiber, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and nutrients not found in meat. We can give dogs the following:

  • Pumpkin: It is rich in fiber, vitamins A, C and K, and alpha and beta-carotene. It is best to give it to the dog cooked and cut into small pieces.

  • Carrot: It is a useful vegetable for dogs, very digestible and contains various nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron, B vitamins, vitamins A, E and K. It also helps prevent tartar.

  • Zucchini: a healthy vegetable recommended for our dogs. It consists of 95% water and is low in calories. We can give it boiled, fried, grilled or raw, chopped or sliced.

  • Broccoli: This vegetable contains large amounts of vitamins C, A, E and K and has healing and protective properties for the bones and vision of dogs.

  • Green Beans: This legume offers vitamins C, A and K, as well as folic acid and fiber.

  • Cauliflower: This vegetable contains vitamins K, C, folic acid, potassium, and manganese. Due to its content of isothiocyanates, it has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. This last benefit makes it a good choice for dogs with osteoarthritis who are getting old.

If you want to know more about which fruits and vegetables are harmful for your dog's health, continue reading this other article, where we give you a complete list of fruits and vegetables forbidden for dogs.

What to Feed Your Dog When You’re Out of Dog Food - Vegetables and legumes


Dogs can eat certain fruits, but keep in mind that some are poisonous and dangerous to them if they ingest them. Dogs do not need fruit as part of their diet, but they may enjoy fruit occasionally as a supplement when you have run out of their usual food. Many dogs do not like tart or sour fruits like oranges or cranberries, but most dogs like the following fruits that also provide vitamins and minerals:

  • Peach: It is one of the fruits that dogs like the most. It has a mild and sweet taste and provides vitamins A, B12, B6 and B1. But you must be careful not to give your dog the peel or the bone of the peach.

  • Apple: a fruit with a high content of water, antioxidants, and vitamins B and C. It also provides calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. In this case, however, it is necessary to prevent the dog from eating the seeds, because they contain cyanide and can cause poisoning. They cause a lack of oxygen in the tissues by blocking the enzyme responsible for respiration in the mitochondria of the cells.

  • Banana: A small portion of this fruit for small dogs and even a whole banana for large dogs provides vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9, as well as potassium, fiber, and tannins with astringent effect.

  • Cherimoya: Due to its high sugar content, we can give our dogs this fruit without seeds in small quantities, because it contains vitamins of group B, such as B1, B3 or B9, and vitamin. This fruit also contains many fibers and minerals.

  • Strawberry: Dogs can eat strawberries without hesitation, but do not overdo it. These colorful fruits provide them with vitamins C, K, B1, B6, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals such as copper and magnesium.

Continue reading this other article for a complete list of fruits and vegetables that your dog can safely eat.

What to Feed Your Dog When You’re Out of Dog Food - Fruits

Getting your dog back on their normal diet

Now that you have solved the immediate problem of feeding your dog, you have bought some time to get more dog food. Remember that human meals for dogs are not a long-term solution, as they are not as balanced and complete as commercial dog food.

Also, remember that sudden changes in your dog's diet can upset their stomach. Therefore, switching your dog to his normal diet should be done gradually. Over the course of the next few days, mix larger and larger amounts of the normal dog food with the "emergency food" until your dog eats only their dog food again. Continue reading this other article to learn everything you need to know about combining homemade and store-bought foods.

Life is hectic, so it's understandable if you run out of dog food every now and then. Surely your dog will not mind if you give them some human food for a meal or two. However, to avoid another food emergency, consider placing about a week's worth of your dog's regular food in a separate plastic bag. When the big bag of dog food is empty, and you reach for the small bag, it's time to replenish your food supply.

If you want to read similar articles to What to Feed Your Dog When You’re Out of Dog Food, we recommend you visit our Diet problems category.

  • Elices, R. (2010). Atlas of nutrition and practical feeding in dogs and cats. Publisher Servetus.
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What to Feed Your Dog When You’re Out of Dog Food