Can Dogs Eat Pork?

Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to this question. Pork comes in a variety of forms – cooked or raw, bones or no bones – so there’s no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. It depends on the type of pork and how it’s cooked and served.

Pork can take many different guises. It’s not just bacon and ham that dogs might be begging for, there’s also the pepperoni on a pizza slice or the smell coming from a hot dog van that can get tails wagging straight away.

Pork is generally considered safe for dogs, but it’s not always healthy and there are a few types of processed meat that are better left entirely off the canine menu.

If your dog is a fan of pork, the best way to serve it is by just giving a little bit as a treat and making sure this is simply cooked without any of the bells and whistles that we humans enjoy so much.

Your dog can eat pork as long as there is no seasoning, sauces, condiments, onions, or other ingredients that can be potentially toxic.

Pork has a high-fat content, which is why it’s better suited for treat time every once in a while than added to your dog’s diet as a staple. If in doubt, always check with your vet before making pork a regular addition to your dog’s diet.

Can Dogs Eat Pork

Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Pork?

Plain, cooked pork is safe for dogs to eat, as long as you keep it simple and leave off the bells and whistles people tend to cook with. Seasonings and spice rubs that contain the following ingredients are extremely dangerous because they are highly toxic to dogs if ingested:

  • Onion powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Garlic powder

Avoid feeding your dog food cooked in condiments such as barbecue sauce. Many sauces are high in salt and sugar and contain added flavoring, such as garlic and onion. If your dog happens to eat a piece of pork covered in barbecue sauce, keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms that may arise; if they do develop a reaction, contact your vet immediately.

Can Dogs Eat Pork Bones Safely?

Bones from common pork products, like pork rib bones or pork chop bones, are a hazard for dogs to eat, Schmid says.

They can poke a dog in the mouth or gums, but more importantly, they can become “foreign body obstructions” (a fancy word for anything that blocks up a dog’s digestive system that didn’t start in your dog’s body).

“Pork bones, cooked or uncooked, are a risk to dogs for causing obstructions that may require surgery,” Schmid says. Because the bones are especially dry, cooked bones are especially prone to breaking off during chewing, she warns: “Slivers of bones can perforate the intestinal tract, leading to sepsis and death.”

Better safe than sorry, so steer away from giving pork bones to your dog. The same goes for pork rib bones.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Pork?

No. Raw or undercooked pork should never be fed to dogs. This meat can carry parasites like trichinosis, which can cause gastrointestinal issues. Symptoms of trichinosis can vary but can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Elevated fever
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Pain and stiffness

If your dog experiences these symptoms, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian. They’ll take a medical history and perform fecal and blood testing to help rule out other causes.

Is Pork Bad For Dogs?

As a protein source, pork is generally considered safe for dogs.

However, pork comes in all different forms, including bacon, ham, gammon and sausage. This makes it difficult to say a definite yes or no to whether pork is bad for dogs and whether dogs should eat pork.

Processed pork varieties, like bacon, can contain high salt and fat levels, meaning they’re not particularly healthy and are better left entirely off any doggy menu. In contrast, leaner cuts of pork, such as pork loin, are positively suitable for dogs and very nutritious.

Feeding your dog, the proper cut of pork is a great way to help them reach the recommended amount of protein in their diet.

Unlike their wolf ancestors, dogs are not carnivores but omnivores, having evolved to digest meat and starches.

Despite these evolutionary changes, protein remains an essential part of their diet and plays a vital role in things like healthy bone formation and maintenance. Without enough protein, dogs can develop weak and brittle bones. 

Aside from more muscular bones, some of the advantages of pork include:

  • It’s an easily digestible protein source.
  • It’s a source of Omega 3, which is excellent for their skin and joint health. Heritage pork, in particular, is higher in Omega 3 by 18-43% than other pork sources.
  • It has an excellent amino acid profile. Amino acids are essential for a dog’s body to function correctly. 
  • Pork organs, such as the liver and heart, provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  • It’s a source of Omega 3, which is excellent for their skin and joint health. Heritage pork, in particular, is higher in Omega 3 by 18-43% than other pork sources.
  • It has an excellent amino acid profile. Amino acids are essential for a dog’s body to function correctly.

Pork organs, such as the liver and heart, provide essential vitamins and minerals.

How to Safely Feed Pork to Your Dog?

Pork may not necessarily be a total no-go for your dog, provided you follow the guidelines above. If you want to feed pork to your pup, you’ll need to prepare it specially.

Choose a lean cut of pork and trim away all visible fat. Do not add seasoning and make sure to cook it thoroughly. And you shouldn’t just be throwing down a pork chop in front of your dog and calling it a day.

You must portion it out and only give small pieces and a limited amount, especially if your dog hasn’t had it before.

Keep a close eye on your dog after feeding them anything that’s outside of their standard diet, including pork.

Any stomach upset, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or otherwise worrisome side effects should be monitored, and your dog should be taken to the veterinarian if these signs do not go away within a short period.

Does pork have health benefits for dogs? 

Dogs are omnivores, but they traditionally get a lot of their nutrients from meat products. Because of this, you might assume that all pork products are safe ingredients for dog treats. This is not so. Common pork-containing foods, such as bacon and ham, do not always have the same ingredients.

The pork we make for ourselves is often prepared with other ingredients and flavors that are unhealthy for dogs. Dogs’ digestive tracts are different from ours and are not always able to digest food the same way that we do.

The primary ingredients to look out for in pork products designed for humans that might upset a dog’s gastrointestinal tract are garlic, onions, and salt.

These ingredients typically are not included in commercially available natural dog food that contains pork and isn’t considered among the safe ingredients for dog treats.

Garlic and onions are members of the Allium family, plants that are very unfriendly to canine digestion if dogs eat them. They can cause immediate gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.

Excess salt levels in food can cause increased thirst and urination in your dog and subsequent dehydration, lethargy, and abnormal fluid accumulation in the stomach a condition commonly called bloat.

A bloated dog’s stomach can put pressure on other organs, including the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Severe bloat can be life-threatening and requires surgical intervention to treat.

Excessive salt consumption over a long period can also cause more severe consequences, such as kidney damage, seizures, coma, and even death.

Raw pork from the store may be brined or seasoned with salt, so before you bake a ham and offer a slice to your pup, be sure to check the ingredients.

While processed pork may contain ingredients that are unhealthy for dogs, small amounts of plain, fresh pork cooked by itself without other ingredients is typically fine for a dog of average health to eat.

Lean meats are generally healthier for dogs than fatty cuts of pork. However, for a healthy dog at a healthy weight, the extra fat in low-salt, unseasoned pork isn’t likely to cause weight gain unless you offer it frequently.

Fat should make up about 15–20% of a healthy dog’s total daily calories. Overweight or older dogs who are more sedentary require less.

High-quality, commercially available natural dog foods are nutritionally complete and balanced to have the necessary fat to meet your dog’s needs.

Too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to gastrointestinal upset; the rich fattiness of pork makes it tasty but also difficult for your dog to digest.

How Much Pork Can A Dog Eat Each Day?

Although pork has a lot of protein, its fat content makes it a better candidate for snack time than meals. Most of your dog’s nutrition should come from their regular food.

As a general rule, only offer pork in moderation, which means no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake, says Dr. Dench.

Your dog’s calorie needs depend on many factors, including their size, activity level, and age.

For example, a 17-pound adult dog needs about 453 calories a day. At 45 calories, a slice of ham would cover their entire treat allowance for the day. Meanwhile, the 117-pound dog needs 1927 calories a day, so they can safely eat four pieces of ham.

That said, Dr. Baker emphasizes that eating too much pork may cause excess weight gain in dogs. Plus, some dogs may have trouble digesting the fatty meat. If they eat it regularly, they may experience diarrhea, vomiting, or bloating.

In some cases, high-fat foods can trigger inflammation in your dog’s pancreas and lead to a condition called pancreatitis.

If your dog seems very thirsty or urinates more than usual, you may want to check in with a vet. They can help find the cause of their symptoms, prescribe medication, and recommend a diet to manage pancreatitis.