Can Dogs Eat a McDonald’s Hamburger?

When you are in a hurry and traveling with your furry best friend, a trip to the drive-through is going to get you ‘the eye’ from your suddenly ‘famished’ dog. Can dogs eat a McDonald’s Hamburger?

While they technically can, of course, these burgers aren’t very good for them. Depending on your dog’s size, the calories per day that they should be eating will vary, but McDonald’s menu is high in sugars, fats, and quite calorically dense – making them quite an unhealthy option for dogs.

Today we’ll expand on this, taking a look at how many calories most dogs need, as well as a closer look at some popular McDonald’s menu items such as burgers, nuggets, and ice cream. Let’s take a look so that you can see why these foods are a bad fit for your dog’s diet!

Daily calories and your dog

The first thing that you need to think about when giving your dog a fast-food snack is their daily caloric requirements. Aside from the fact that fast food it notoriously fatty and sugar-packed, it’s also quite calorically dense. Let’s take a look at canine calorie daily requirements from the Animal Medical Center of Chicago as a starting point:

  • Puppies up to 4 months old that weight 1 pound need 115 calories per day. At 3 pounds, they need 264, and large, 5-pound puppies need about 390! At this age range, they need extra calories as they are still developing.
  • Puppies over 4 months old have a calorie-requirement drop, with a 1 pound puppy needing only 77 calories per day, while a 3 pound pup needs 176, and a 5 pound puppy need only 260 calories per day.

For adults, we’ll widen the age range, to give you a basic idea of the daily required calories based on weight for small, medium, and large dogs:

  • A small, neutered adult dog weighing 2 to 5 pounds, needs 104 to 208 calories daily, while a non-neutered one needs 123 to 204.
  • A medium-sized adult dog, weighing 6 to 11 pounds, needs  238 to 374 daily calories if they are neutered, while an unneutered adult needs 268 to 421 calories.
  • A large, neutered adult in the weight range of 12 to 16 pounds requires 400 to 496 calories every day, while an unneutered one needs 450 to 558 calories.

Okay… So which McDonalds burgers have the most calories?

The biggest calorie burger that McDonalds has is the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and while your dog will definitely want some of yours, giving them their own DQP is a bad idea. These burgers pack a whopping 750 calories per burger, and though your dog would gobble it up quite easily, it’s too much!

That is going to go over most dog’s caloric requirements for the entire day, unless your fuzzy friend is a big dog indeed. So, unless your dog is a giant or an Alaskan Sled dog (who can eat 10,000 calories in a working day), then the Double Quarter Pounder is definitely off the menu.

The lowest calorie option would be the ‘standard’ McDonalds hamburger, which is about 240 calories per serving. This is still not great for your dog, but if you don’t feed this to them every day and only rarely as a treat, then you’ve got a potential compromise here that you and your dog can work with.

Can my dog have McNuggets, then?

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets should be safer, right, since they are just pieces of chicken? Well… not so much. Remember, this is not just lean chicken meat fresh off the grill, but rather a batter-dipped piece of chicken that has been deep fried in oil! This raises the calorie count considerably.

4 Chicken McNuggets ramp in at about 190 calories, while a 6 piece is 280, and a 20 piece McNuggets feast is a whopping 940 calories! Not only that, but deep-fried foods are a problem for dogs, just like they are with us.

Pancreatitis may occur with the consumption of too many greasy foods and deep fried foods and heart problems are also a possibility. While most everybody love McNuggets, they aren’t very good for you and they’re definitely not good for your dog.

It’s best for everyone if you avoid them altogether or keep servings at a minimal, such as one halved McNugget for a small dog and 2 halved McNuggets for a medium-sized dog. Larger dogs can probably have 3 or 4, but don’t tell them that or they’ll want 20! Use your best judgement and count those calories!

Is a McDonald’s kid’s meal okay for my dog?

Okay, so let’s say that giving your dog a Hamburger Happy Meal has some cuteness appeal, especially if the toy in it is somehow not a choking hazard. All of the items are potentially edible, after all, so is it really that bad for your dog?

Well, let’s take a look at what’s in it and then we’ll give you the caloric total:

  • One McDonalds hamburger (your dog’s favorite bit, of course)
  • 1 small fries (2nd favorite)
  • 4 apple slices (sometimes popular, sometimes ignored, and sometimes a chew toy)
  • 1% milk (some dogs love it, but dairy is hard on their tummies)

According to McDonalds, this comes in at about 475 calories, so let’s check that:

  • 1 small McDonald’s hamburger -240 calories
  • 1 kids-sized (31-gram portion) fries – 100 calories
  • 1% McDonald’s ‘milk jug’ – 100 calories
  • 4 red apple slices – approx. 36 calories

We get 476 calories, so McDonald’s is being honest with us, but that’s still a lot of fatty calories for your dog. Incidentally, the meat patty itself is only 90 calories, so you do have a little wiggle room for compromise – as long as they eat their apple slices first!

What if my doggie want’s McD’s ice cream?

Sadly, it’s really not very good for them. McDonald’s ice cream and soft serve options are high in sugar and fats and dairy is hard on your dog’s tummy to begin with.

The compromise option here might be the Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait, which is their lowest calorie desert at 150 calories. It has yoghurt, crunchy granola, blueberries, and strawberries. McDonald’s apparently uses Dannon low-fat Vanilla yoghurt, which is good because there is no Xylitol (an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs). Aside from this, it has granola and fruits.

The fruits in question are blueberry and strawberry, so these are non-toxic to dogs. With all of this in mind, it’s still a lot of calories as a snack for a big dog and way too much for a small one!

Some closing comments on McDonalds and dogs

The numbers don’t lie – McDonald’s is calorie dense for humans and even more so for dogs. With all that sugar, fat, and their high calorie count, McDonald’s menu items simply aren’t a good option for your dog.

Try to compromise unless it’s a road trip emergency or simply pack ahead some foods you’ve calorie-counted and cooked yourself.

 Your dog might not thank you at the drive through (unless you sneakily stick their ‘approved’ snack in the bag), but it will help to ensure that you’ll be enduring those disapproving glance for long, long time down the road!