Can Humans Eat Dog Food?

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Published: February 11, 2024
Share on:


Dog food technically isn’t poisonous to humans. However, you shouldn’t generally eat it for a few different reasons:

  • Nutrition: Dog food is formulated for dogs – not humans. It lacks vitamins and minerals that humans need, like vitamin C. It may also include excessive amounts of the nutrients. While it won’t harm you if you eat it once or twice, it will harm you if you try to live off of it. Plus, dog food contains all sorts of different ingredients and nutrients, so some may be more harmful than others.
  • Safety: Dog food doesn’t have the same rigorous testing as human food. It isn’t regulated by the FDA to the same extent as human food. Therefore, it is generally a poorer choice. Some dog food also contains vitamin K3, which can be toxic to humans in high doses.

In an emergency situation, dog food is better than nothing. However, it isn’t preferable to other options. If you’re looking for food to stock up for an emergency, dog food isn’t a suitable option.

You also shouldn’t consume it regularly. Most of the negative results of dog food are related to long-term, consistent consumption.

If you’re facing food insecurity, consider contacting local food banks or charities for assistance. These charities can provide you with safe, nutritious options.

Can Humans Survive on Pet Food?

Brown dachshund eating

Dog food isn’t formulated for humans, so it isn’t a long-term survival option.

©Dmitry Andreev/iStock via Getty Images

Pet food is not a long-term survival option for humans. While it does provide nutrition, it isn’t nutritionally complete. Dog food lacks many of the nutrients that humans need, like vitamin C, fiber, and even certain B vitamins. Humans and dogs do not have the same nutritional needs. Prolonged consumption can lead to severe health problems.

Protein levels in dog food tend to be high. However, this may not be exactly what humans need. Many dog foods have low levels of carbohydrates. They may also not have the correct fat content.

As we discussed above, there may also be toxic levels of certain vitamins, including vitamin K3, which are toxic to dogs to a certain extent.

Pet food doesn’t have the same regulations and testing that human food is subject to. Therefore, it may have a higher risk of food-borne illnesses. Dog food also has an expiration date despite being processed. It isn’t a food you can safely store for many years.

In some cases, dog food may be a very short-term survival strategy for those with no other option. It does contain calories and protein, which may be necessary in emergencies. However, it should only be used as a last resort and shouldn’t be considered a quality food to stock up on.

Why Are People Eating Dog Food?

Lately, there has been a trend on social media for fitness influencers to eat dog food. Often, this is done because it is high in protein. However, this is misguided, as dog food often doesn’t contain much more protein than other food, and it isn’t much more cost-effective. High-protein dog food is expensive.

As we’ve discussed, dog food can also harm humans in higher amounts.

Often, there may also be misguided information that dog food is good for humans. Some may assume it is perfectly formulated for humans, too. By that logic, it may make sense for those wanting to eat a “perfect” diet. Sadly, this isn’t the case. What dogs need and what humans need is very different.

Therefore, you cannot consume dog food with the assumption that it’s giving you everything you need.

There are better options in both situations for those looking to eat more protein or consume a better diet. Either way, we highly recommend consulting with a healthcare professional if you’re thinking about consuming a seriously new diet, like consuming dog food.

Is Dog Food Tasty for Humans?

Two dogs behind the table

Dogs may love dog food, but humans typically do not.

©fotyma/iStock via Getty Images

Canines and people have very different tastebuds. Dogs have a much different sense of smell than people, which also affects their taste. Therefore, they often love to consume smelly things, while humans generally do not.

That said, humans usually don’t find dog food appetizing. Dog food is made for canine taste buds, which differ much from humans. Humans also have more taste buds than dogs, so they may perceive a wider range of flavors – some that aren’t very appetizing.

The processing of the dog food can also make it taste strange to humans, while dogs wouldn’t pick up on this flavor. The texture may also be unappetizing, as dogs don’t care much about this aspect of food, while humans often do.

While trying dog food won’t hurt you, consuming tons will. It isn’t a good option for the vast majority of humans.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © alex_ugalek/iStock via Getty Images

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

Share on:
About the Author

Kristin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering dogs, cats, fish, and other pets. She has been an animal writer for seven years, writing for top publications on everything from chinchilla cancer to the rise of designer dogs. She currently lives in Tennessee with her cat, dogs, and two children. When she isn't writing about pets, she enjoys hiking and crocheting.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.