Can Humans Eat Dog Food in an Emergency? Survival 101

This question brings me back to being a kid and wondering the same thing. 

Can Humans Eat Dog Food in an Emergency

Without boring you with the details, at one point I did grab a few pieces of dry food from my dog’s bowl and popped them into my mouth. 

After chewing for a few seconds, I promptly spit the gritty food into the trash can. This was not because it was toxic or poisonous, it was just disgusting. 

Jump ahead several decades and I have seen this question about consuming dog food pop up more as people become more survival minded. 

It is not a bad question to ask as one of the most popular pets to own is a dog. So, it stands to reason that there is a lot of dog food available that a person could come across during an emergency. 

After all, if your beloved dog can woof down on the contents of their bowl, why can’t you?

When it comes to eating dog food in an emergency there are a few things you should know before chowing down alongside your pooch. 



The makeup of most dog food is not inherently bad or toxic to humans. It can consist of organ meat, ground-up bone, vegetables, and other bits and pieces of animal by-products. 

All of which, people can eat.

But some of those ingredients such as bone, people do not generally eat so they can cause issues within the stomach and digestive tract. 

Vitamins are also added to dog food to help keep our pets healthy. But these vitamins are added based on the nutritional requirements of a dog and not a person.

This means by eating dog food there are some vitamins you will not receive and some you should not consume in large quantities. As every dog food brand is different look to the packaging or contact the manufacturer to find out exactly what is used in the product.



The manufacturers of dog food must follow safety guidelines for how the food is prepared. They are not nearly as strict as the guidelines outlined in the manufacturing of human food but there are guidelines, nonetheless. 

This is the second reason why you will see the label “not for human consumption” on some dog food brands. 

Now there is a bit of a difference between wet canned dog food and dry food. 

Canned food is usually cooked first which should kill many harmful bacteria within it. It is then sealed in an airtight, waterproof container. 

Dry food on the other hand is generally put into a package that is not airtight nor completely waterproof. These bags are then usually left open or poured into a secondary container where it sits until it has been fully consumed. This makes dry food more susceptible to the possibility of bacterial growth. 

This does not mean I am giving you the go-ahead to eat the wet canned food, but it would probably be the safer choice when push comes to shove. 

Wrapping It Up

Eating dog food in very small amounts spread out over a long time is most likely not going to harm an adult human, that is if you can get past the smell and taste of it.

But depending on it as a regular emergency food source seems unwise as it could cause some serious health issues. 

The solution? Make sure that you have plenty of food for both your pet and you to get through any emergency that comes your way. 

Thanks for reading and remember, stock up on plenty human food!

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021. Read more of Bryan's articles.