Can Dogs Eat Coleslaw? Is It Safe for Dogs?


Coleslaw is one of the most popular side dishes that people eat when they go out for picnics or when they want to have a cheat meal like hot dogs or even fried chicken. But can dogs eat coleslaw?

While the cabbage itself doesn’t present any health risks to dogs, there are some ingredients in slaw that can make it quite risky for dogs. Read on to find out more!

Is Coleslaw Good for Dogs?

Vitamin K

Cabbage, the primary ingredient in coleslaw of any kind, is extremely rich in vitamin K. In fact, it’s one of the foods that people and dogs alike can have that are the most packed in this anticoagulant vitamin. 

Giving your dog cabbage every now and then can make them withstand the abuse of trauma, for example, and might prevent them from developing severe hemorrhage as a result of an injury.  

Coleslaw salad

Vitamin C

You’ve probably heard before that vitamin C is one of the most important ones when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system, and that’s perfectly true. 

Coleslaw is quite rich in this nutrient also because of the high cabbage content. Vitamin C has a number of benefits, from ensuring that your dog’s tissues are naturally repaired in their body to making sure that iron is absorbed properly, or that their bones and cartilages remain healthy. 

Calcium and Magnesium

Some dog breeds are more predisposed to developing rickets, especially when they are young and if they are not fed a species-appropriate diet. 

But instead of giving your pet a myriad of supplements, you can have them get their most important minerals from food — and that includes the cabbage in coleslaw. 

Is Coleslaw Bad for Dogs?


Onion and garlic are two types of food that dogs should never have as they can pose serious health threats to them. For example, onion consumption can cause an imbalance in your pet’s red blood cells that can lead to anemia

Even for a dog that’s particularly large and heavy, a small amount of onion can be dangerous and even deadly. 


Eggs, oil, and vinegar don’t sound so bad when you take all of them separately, but when you combine them and prepare mayonnaise, they become quite risky. 

All foods that are heavy in fat have a high chance of making your dog develop pancreatitis. Unfortunately, this is one of the most serious conditions that pets can get, and even in humans, it is often incurable. 

Fat and vinegar can also cause a variety of digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and acid reflux


While cream might not be the most common ingredient that you add to the coleslaw you make at home, you should know that it can be present in some commercial varieties. 

In itself, the cream is mostly harmless, but some dogs can have lactose intolerance, which means that they are definitely going to experience some type of digestive distress after ingesting it, whether it be diarrhea, gas, or even vomiting. 

Sugar and salt

Dogs are not supposed to have these two ingredients in their foods and if you’ve taken the time to look at the label of your dog’s canned or dry food before, you might have noticed that the percentages of these two are very, very low.

Pets that are fed a high-sugar diet have a much higher likelihood of developing diabetes, and the last thing you might want is to begin administering insulin to your dog every day. 

Salt can cause a variety of health complications mostly relating to dehydration and cardiovascular issues


While the coleslaw you can prepare at home might be free of these, the one you can purchase from a supermarket or the one that’s premade at fast-food chains is going to contain a number of additives. 

The reason for this is that it needs to have a long shelf life. While there have been numerous studies performed on the effect that preservatives can have both on human and animal health, these substances are still being used today, so commercial coleslaw should never be on your shopping list. 

How Much Coleslaw Can My Dog Eat?

Simply put, your dog should never have coleslaw unless you’re extremely careful when it comes to its preparation at home. 

As you’ve seen from the bad ingredients listed previously, coleslaw can put your dog’s health at a significant risk, which will make you both end up at the animal hospital with an emergency. 

So unless you want to risk your dog developing diabetes, pancreatitis, or suffering from acute intoxication because of onion, for example, avoid feeding them coleslaw. 

How to Prepare and Serve Coleslaw to Your Dog

If your dog seems to be a slaw aficionado and you see them stealing the one you prepare for yourself, you can make your own homemade dog-safe alternative

Simply remove the onion, mayo, cream, sugar, and salt, and add safer options instead. For example, you could use a bit of goat yogurt instead of the mayo or cream if your dog likes the slaw to be a little creamy. 

By the way, yogurt made from goat milk is also lower in lactose, although not exactly low-fat, so make sure you do not add it to the slaw you feed to overweight or obese dogs. 

Homemade coleslaw should be looked at as a dog treat rather than a primary food itself, so you can give your pet this snack once or twice a week (no more than one or two tablespoons for each portion). 

dog running in cabbage

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs eat KFC coleslaw?

No. KFC coleslaw is undoubtedly not the worst in the world, but it still contains onions, sugar, food starch, paprika, and soybean oil, which are all things that a dog should never have. 

Can dogs eat coleslaw without the mayonnaise?

If you also remove the rest of the dangerous ingredients, yes. Mayonnaise can be replaced with lighter alternatives, such as the goat milk yogurt we mentioned above. 

Can dogs eat slaw without the onion?

The answer to this question is a clear yes if you make your slaw at home and use no seasonings or spices or cream, mayo, or any other ingredients that might put your dog’s health at risk.


While the chance of your dog experiencing any upsetting symptoms if they have just a tiny amount of coleslaw is very low, you can never be too sure. The most common adverse reactions would be vomiting, diarrhea, and mild stomach upsets

In a nutshell, commercial slaw is not safe for dogs so you should avoid feeding it to your pet at all times. 

Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about what an appropriate diet for your dog might be as they know best. 


  1. Safety and efficacy of butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) as a feed additive for all animal species, EFSA J, 2018
  2. Some food toxic for pets, Natália Kovalkovičová, Irena Šutiaková, 2009
  3. Nutrition and bone disease in the dog and cat, D Bennett, 1976

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Cristina Vulpe

Cristina Vulpe

As a veterinarian and a cat guardian, Cristina Vulpe holds a Ph.D. in veterinary oncology. She loves writing about feline pathology, parasitology, and infectious diseases, but she also cares deeply about animal nutrition and welfare. When she isn't writing, you can always find her in the company of her cat and a good book.
Iasi, Romania