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Is Meat Tenderizer Safe for Dogs?

In my last article about coprophagia, I mentioned offhand that vets will often suggest one use meat tenderizer to reduce poo munching as it supposedly makes turds less palatable. One of my readers, who struggles with her puppy eating poop, also received this recommendation from her own vet. However, she was a bit reluctant to try it out, and asked me if I knew anything about meat tenderizer. While it’s true that vets likely wouldn’t recommend something unsafe for our dogs, it’s also good to do your own research. So, let’s learn a little bit more about meat tenderizer and how it works, and if it is, indeed, safe to feed it to our dogs.

How Does Meat Tenderizer Work to Treat Coprophagia?

Meat tenderizer is typically used on meat to, well, tenderize it (duh). Most meat tenderizers use a main ingredient called bromelain, which is a proteolytic enzyme that comes from the fruit and stems of pineapples. Proteolytic enzymes like bromelain work to digest proteins. According to veterinarians Debra Horwitz and Gary Landsberg of VCA Hospitals, increased protein digestion leads to less savory stool. So, meat tenderizer works by helping dogs digest more of the protein in their food, keeping it out of their waste and causing that waste to be less enticing to other dogs (or themselves). Still, we know from my original article about coprophagia that using meat tenderizer may not solve the problem. The best method for preventing poop eating is to pick it up.

Bromelain itself is receiving a decent amount of attention in regards to human health. It has the potential to reduce pain, fight inflammation, reduce edema, expedite soft-tissue wound healing, and more (Orsini 1641). While studies detailing the potential benefits of bromelain for dogs have yet to be performed, dogs have been used to test the toxicity of this enzyme. It has been reported that dogs receiving 750mg of bromelain per kilogram of body weight daily showed no symptoms of toxicity after six months (Pavan et al). A 55lb dog is roughly 25kg. Multiply this by 750, and that’s 18,750mg (or 18.75g) of bromelain given per day. Powder meat tenderizers from the store contain other ingredients aside from bromelain, but suggest a serving size of 1.1-1.5 grams (or a 1/4 tsp) per pound of meat. Even if we forget about the other ingredients and say the whole 1.5 grams of tenderizer is just bromelain, the amount doesn’t even come close to what was being given to dogs to determine toxicity. Of course, the serving size recommended on commercial tenderizing products is meant for steaks, not dog food. However, it’s surprisingly difficult to find information on the web about how much meat tenderizer one should add to a dog’s meal. Regardless, based on what we know about bromelain toxicity, it seems nearly impossible to harm your dog with the stuff. But what about the other ingredients in meat tenderizer? Are those also safe for our dogs?

Meat Tenderizer Ingredients

The ingredient list on meat tenderizer will vary a bit brand to brand, but we’ll look at an unseasoned variety by McCormick that I found on Amazon. Should you decide to try meat tenderizer as a solution to coprophagia, definitely be sure you are buying the unseasoned variety. Seasoned meat tenderizers often contain ingredients that are bad for dogs, such as onion or garlic.

The ingredient list on the unseasoned McCormick meat tenderizer includes the following in this exact order: salt, dextrose, bromelain (tenderizer), and calcium silicate (added to make free flowing).

Here are the Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size 1/4 tsp. (1.1g)
Servings about 86
Amount per serving (including % daily value):
Calories 0
Total Fat 0g (0%)
Sodium 400mg (17%)
Total Carb. 0g (0%)
Protein 0g

Dextrose is a simple sugar that is chemically identical to glucose. It is not bad for dogs and is sometimes used as a medical treatment. However, you can always have too much of a good thing. Luckily, meat tenderizer has negligible amounts of dextrose in it as the label lists 0g of carbohydrates.

Calcium silicate is an anti-caking agent that is derived from limestone and silica. It is difficult to find information on how it interacts with dogs’ digestive systems. As I cannot seem to find any answers on my own, I can only trust that my veterinarian would not recommend something harmful to my dog.

Out of all the ingredients on the label, salt is the only one we get an actual amount for: 400mg per 1/4tsp serving. According to the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRCNA), the daily recommended allowance of sodium is 200mg for a 33lb adult dog that consumes 1,000 calories per day. Unfortunately, the NRCNA does not offer any insight into how to calculate the daily allowance of salt for our own dogs at home. Since there is no concrete information about how much tenderizer we should be using, and a 1/4tsp is next to nothing, it’s not far-fetched to assume we could easily be feeding our dogs too much sodium just by using even half a tablespoon of this product, which would amount to 2400mg of sodium.

2400mg may sound like a lot, but it’s nothing to get too worked up about. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, most dogs will not suffer any negative effects from having too much salt as long as they have plenty of clean drinking water. In fact, it takes about 4 grams of salt per kilogram of body weight to result in salt poisoning. Remembering that a 55lb dog is about 25kg, it would take about 100grams (100,000mg) of salt to cause distress. That’s quite a bit of salt. While salt toxicity can result in vomiting and even progress to diarrhea, weakness, muscle spasms, and seizures, non-lethal amounts of excess salt usually just cause a dog to drink more water and urinate more often. Most cases of salt toxicity only happen because dogs did not have access to enough water.

Should you decide to try out meat tenderizer to curb your dog’s appetite, be sure to keep your dog’s water dish topped up.


Though the meat tenderizer I’ve chosen for this article does not contain corn starch, it is a common ingredient in other brands so I thought I would mention it. Corn starch has the same purpose as calcium silicate: it is an anti-caking agent. Corn starch is used in many affordable dog foods, so we know it is safe for dogs (as long as they are not allergic to corn products). An alternative to the McCormick brand tenderizer would be Adolph’s meat tenderizer. The ingredients are the same except it uses corn starch instead of calcium silicate. It also has more sodium.

Can Dogs Eat Pineapples?

Since bromelain comes from pineapples and pineapples are certainly more natural than a mixture of salt, dextrose, calcium silicate, and bromelain, why not just feed our dogs pineapple? Good question. But is pineapple safe for dogs? The answer is yes. However, according to holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, fruits should make up no more than 5% of a dog’s diet. It is recommended that the core be discarded, as it is difficult to chew and is thus a potential choking hazard.

Whether or not pineapple will curb a dog’s tendency to eat turds is up in the air. The amount you can safely give, 5%, seems rather negligible. Furthermore, even meat tenderizer doesn’t always solve the issue. Whether or not pineapple is worth trying is up to you. If you do decide to try it, be sure to buy fresh pineapple only. Canned pineapple often has too much sugar in it.

Is Meat Tenderizer Safe for Dogs?

After taking a look at the ingredients of meat tenderizer, it seems a safe option for treating coprophagia. However, this article only looked at one brand of unseasoned meat tenderizer. The ingredients tend to vary a little bit by manufacturer, so be sure to do some Googling before purchasing other meat tenderizers or using whatever you have in your pantry. The main ingredient in most meat tenderizers is bromelain, an enzyme that typically comes from pineapples. This enzyme works to digest protein so that less of it finds its way into the dog’s stool, resulting in less enticing turds. Dogs being given meat tenderizer should have unlimited access to water.

Works Cited

Becker, Karen Shaw. “Can Dogs Eat Pineapples?Food Facts for Pets, 11 Apr. 2019, petfoodfacts.mercola.com.

Horwitz, Debra and Gary Landsberg. “Dog Behavior Problems – Coprophagia.” VCA Hospitals

Orsini, Roger. “Bromelain.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 118, no. 7, Jan. 2007, pp. 1640-4.

Pavan, Rajendra, et al. “Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review.Biotechnology Research International, 10 Dec. 2012.

Thompson, Larry J. “Overview of Salt Toxicity.Merck Veterinary Manual.

Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs – A Science-Based Guide for Pet Owners.National Research Council of the National Academies, http://www.national-academies.org.

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One thought on “Is Meat Tenderizer Safe for Dogs?

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  1. Why am I seeing articles that say you must get a meat tenderizer that contains MSG…and I’m finding other articles discussing MSG toxicity in dogs. I’m confused. Does my meat tenderizer need to have MSG? Or should I be avoiding MSG? Does anyone really know on pet sites? I really can’t tell.

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