Yes and no. Although ham isn’t toxic for your dog, it’s best to avoid it in large quantities. The odd small bite is unlikely to cause an issue (unless your dog has a known or underlying medical condition), but it’s not the best meat for your pup to consume a lot of.
Why Isn’t Eating Ham Safe for Dogs?
While ham is a protein, and dogs need protein, there are much better sources of protein. There isn’t much agreement on how easily digestible ham is as a protein source.
Some sources say it’s highly digestible, while others claim it’s inferior to most other meats and not easily digested.
Store-bought ham, which is what most people use, contains a great deal of sodium, which isn’t good for people or dogs. Even the preservatives used in ham are loaded with nitrates and nitrites, which are sodium-based.
In fact, salt can be toxic to dogs. It can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, lethargy, and abnormal fluid accumulation. Sodium can also cause more serious consequences, such as kidney damage, seizures, coma, and even death.
Ham has a higher fat content than many other types of meat. A high-fat content diet isn’t any better for your dog than it is for people. Although dogs do need fat in their diet, most dog foods have the necessary amount of fat to meet your dog’s needs.
A healthy amount of animal fat in dog food is about 15 to 20 percent. The fatty richness of ham is what makes it taste so delicious, but it’s difficult for your dog to digest.
Too much fat can lead to pancreatitis and other digestive upsets. And if your dog is overweight, you’ll be doing them no favors by sharing a holiday ham.
While keeping all of these warnings in mind, it probably won’t hurt your dog if you give them a little sliver of tasty ham once in a while.
But, as a general rule of thumb, you’d be better off saving it for your own sandwich and opting for a healthier dog treat.
Can Dogs Have Ham Bones?
While it’s not a great idea to give your dog ham, you should never give your pup a ham bone to chew on. Cooked bones can splinter, which can be a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage.
There are dog-safe alternatives to bones you can give your dog instead, such as Virbac CET Chews. These won’t splinter and they’re not hard on your pet’s teeth.
How to feed ham to your dog?
If you’re planning to feed your dog ham, choose one that contains as few additives as possible. Glazed and honey-baked hams aren’t recommended for your pet because they contain added sugar.
Low-sodium ham is a better choice. Even though low-sodium ham is plainer than other types of ham, your dog probably won’t care when they’re gobbling it up from their food bowl.
Can you give dogs ham in large chunks? Just like humans need to take small bites to avoid choking on their food, dogs should only be offered ham that’s been cut into small pieces.
If your dog consumes a large chunk of ham too quickly without chewing it well, it can get caught in their throat.
Remember that treats and ham fall into this category and should make up no more than 10 percent of your pet’s total daily calories. Because of its high fat and sodium content, ham should not be offered to your dog every day.
Your veterinarian can estimate an appropriate total daily calorie count for your dog based on their weight, age, and any medical conditions they might have.
Be especially mindful when feeding treats if your pet is overweight or if you need to encourage them to pay more attention to their nutritionally balanced and complete dog food.
What To Do if Your Dog Eats Ham
If you are facing a situation in which your dog ingested ham, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, determine just how much ham your dog consumes. This will help you figure out if further action is needed.
If your dog ate a small amount of ham, it isn’t likely anything to panic about, but you should monitor them closely for a couple of hours. Watch out for:
- Bowel issues, like diarrhea or constipation
- Atypical lethargy
If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, contact your veterinarian immediately to prevent any further complications.
How much ham can I give to my dog?
There’s no set amount that’s known to cause toxicity or other illness, and there’s no set “safe” amount of ham for canines, so it’s wise to keep a careful eye on how much your fur baby is actually getting from you and others around the table.
It’s also a good idea to make sure any ham your dog gets is free of additives that can be dangerous, such as onions, garlic, or cloves.
Dog nutrition authorities have established that a pup should eat only 5.5% fat and 0.3% sodium in their regular food and treats daily. Ham contains, on average, 11% of its calories as fats, about twice the percentage of dietary fat recommended by dog nutrition experts.
Too much fat can make ham difficult to digest, possibly leading to pancreatitis, which could be fatal. Fat also contributes to obesity and weight-related conditions like arthritis.
Most ham slices contain as much as 1,500 milligrams of sodium, while the limit for a dog’s sodium intake is 3.75 grams (3,750 mg) in total.
A single slice of ham provides about a third of a pup’s daily sodium intake. It’s easy to see that large amounts of ham are not a healthy regular food for your fur baby.
Overall, if you are going to give your dog ham, be sure to use it as an occasional treat. Keep portions to a few small pieces per day, and only give it once in a while, which makes it perfect for hiding medication for picky pups who’ll happily gobble it down. Keeping ham reserved as a special treat ensures it will be greatly appreciated by your dog!