Pâté is a smooth, spreadable meat paste that can be made from various types of meat. It often contains liver or other organ meats. As a dog owner, you may wonder – can dogs eat pâté?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat certain types of pâté in moderation. There are, however, some important considerations when feeding pâté to your dog. In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about giving your dog pâté.
What Exactly is Pâté?
Pâté refers to a blend of cooked ground meat and fat into a spreadable paste. The term comes from the French word “pâté” meaning pie or pasty.
Traditional pâté recipes involve long simmering and additional steps to achieve a silky, velvety texture. The meat is finely chopped or puréed along with herbs, spices, wine or cognac, and other ingredients.
Liver pâté is especially common. Goose, pork, chicken, veal, rabbit, duck and other meats are also used for pâtés. Fish pâtés, vegetable pâtés and egg-based pâtés also exist.
These days, commercial mass-produced pâté undergoes an emulsification process using food processors rather than hand chopping. This enables large scale production with a consistent texture.
Nutritional Contents of Pâté
A typical pâté contains the following nutritional contents:
- High in protein from the meat content.
- High in fat due to the liver and emulsification process.
- Vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium. Vitamin A, B vitamins.
- Choline in liver pâtés. Choline supports brain, liver and nervous system health.
So in moderation, pâté can provide valuable nutrition for dogs. The high protein and fat can help maintain energy levels. The vitamins and minerals also support overall health.
However, the high fat content means pâté should make up a small portion of your dog’s diet. Excessive fat can lead to pancreatitis, gastrointestinal issues and obesity in dogs.
Benefits of Pâté for Dogs
There are some advantages to adding a small amount of pâté to your dog’s diet in moderation. Potential benefits include:
- Palatability – The meaty flavor and smooth, spreadable texture often appeals to dogs. This can encourage picky eaters to eat.
- Weight gain – For underweight dogs or those recovering from illness, the high fat and protein can help restore lost weight.
- Supplemental nutrition – The vitamins and minerals can help fill nutritional gaps, especially for picky eaters with limited diets.
However, any high-fat human food should comprise 10% or less of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Pâté should not make up the bulk of your dog’s diet.
Risks and Dangers of Feeding Dogs Pâté
While pâté can offer benefits in moderation, there are also risks to be aware of:
- Pancreatitis – High fat foods like pâté can trigger or exacerbate this serious inflammatory condition of the pancreas. Obese dogs are especially prone to pancreatitis.
- Gastrointestinal issues – Too much fat can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas and abdominal pain.
- Obesity – The high fat content can quickly lead to weight gain and obesity if fed too often. Obesity stresses all the organs, especially the heart.
- Nutritional imbalance – Relying too much on any “people food” can create vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies over time.
- Allergies or intolerance – Some dogs may be allergic or intolerant to ingredients in pâté like wheat, dairy or certain meats. This causes itching, ear infections and digestive issues.
- Toxicity – Liver and fish liver pâtés can contain excessive Vitamin A leading to toxicity. Unsafe preservatives like onions, garlic and chives may also be present.
Overall, pâté should be an occasional treat only for healthy dogs. It is too high in fat calories to be a substantial meal component.
What To Look For In Pâté for Dogs
If you do choose to feed your dog pâté on occasion, look for products that are:
- Meat-based – Seek pâté made from quality lean meats like chicken, turkey, duck or rabbit rather than pork/goose liver. Meat should be the first ingredient.
- Low-fat – Choose lower fat options under 10% fat. Higher fat may cause diarrhea.
- Grain-free – Grain-free pâté avoids fillers and allergens like wheat, corn, and soy.
- No onion/garlic – Onions, garlic, chives and leeks are toxic to dogs and should be avoided.
- No artificial preservatives – Safety concerns exist over BHA, BHT, TBHQ and ethoxyquin preservatives. Seek “preservative-free” on the label.
Reading the ingredient list carefully helps avoid unwanted fillers, additives and toxic ingredients. Consulting your vet can help determine appropriate brands and recipes too.
Feeding Guidelines and Serving Size
Here are some feeding guidelines if you choose to share pâté with your dog:
- Start with small serving sizes around 1-2 teaspoons to assess tolerance.
- For small dogs under 20 lbs, servings should not exceed 1 tablespoon.
- Medium dogs 20 – 50 lbs can have up to 2 tablespoons.
- Large over 50 lbs dogs can have up to 3 tablespoons.
- Limit pâté feeding to no more than 2-3 times a week.
- Reduce other high-fat foods like bacon or cheese on days when pâté is served.
- Watch your dog’s weight and adjust serving amounts accordingly.
As always, consult your veterinarian, especially if your dog has health conditions. They can provide customized serving recommendations.
Homemade vs Store-Bought Pâté
Both homemade and commercial pâté come with pros and cons.
Homemade pâté allows control over the ingredients. But improperly cooked meats present a bacteria risk. Getting the right texture can also be difficult without commercial emulsification.
Store-bought pâté provides balanced nutrition in an easily digestible form. But lower quality products may contain preservatives, fillers or species-inappropriate meats.
Whichever option you choose, moderation and supervision are key when feeding pâté.
Safe Serving Tips
Follow these tips for safely serving pâté:
- Check temperature – Discard any warm or spoiled pâté to avoid food poisoning. Refrigerate opened jars.
- Avoid cross-contamination – Keep away from raw meat, surfaces, utensils and hands. Wash all plates and bowls thoroughly.
- Supervise – Watch your dog while they eat to prevent choking from inhaling a large portion.
- Store safely – Refrigerate pâté promptly in a sealed container. Discard any leftovers after 2-3 days.
- Transition slowly – Mix small amounts of pâté into their regular food at first to avoid indigestion.
- Hydrate – Ensure access to fresh water to drink. Staying hydrated helps digest high-protein and fatty foods.
Healthy Pâté Alternatives
If you decide pâté is not appropriate for your dog, healthier alternatives that are safely digestible include:
- Lean roasted/poached chicken, turkey or beef
- Low-sodium canned fish like salmon or sardines
- Plain low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese
- Cooked egg
- Veggie mash like sweet potato or pumpkin
- Unsalted peanut butter
These provide high-quality protein without excess fat and calories. Introduce new foods gradually to watch for allergies.