Let’s cut to the chase: Can dogs eat bacon? The answer is no. Though the scent of sizzling bacon wafting through the air is one of the most tantalizing aromas for dogs and humans alike, it comes with some serious drawbacks for your pet’s health.
Ultimately, large amounts of this pork product contain a life-threatening combination of preservatives, high sodium, and high fat that can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system. A tiny piece or lick of bacon grease that landed on the floor won’t kill them, but it’s best to be cautious and conservative when it comes to sharing this porky snack.
No matter how much their puppy-dog eyes try to charm you into giving them a slice, bacon is a human food that’s just too risky to share with your dog. Read on to learn more about the dangers of feeding your dog bacon, plus discover safe, healthier treats that your pup is sure to drool over just as much.
The Health Risks of Bacon
We’ve answered the question, “Can dogs eat bacon?” Now it’s time to find out why.
Bacon has a significant amount of fat and grease. As such, giving bacon to your dog — especially in large quantities — can lead to an upset stomach. Bacon grease can also clog your pup’s arteries.
We know it’s hard to say no to your dog when they so clearly want a taste of bacon. But resist the urge even if your pooch makes those sad eyes and dials up the cuteness factor. Giving bacon to your dog on a regular basis can trigger a serious health issue such as inflammation of the pancreas, also known as pancreatitis.
The pancreas is responsible for releasing digestive enzymes in the stomach so your dog can absorb and digest food on a day-to-day basis. Pancreatitis is a condition that disrupts your dog’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. If the pancreas isn’t able to do its job, then uncomfortable (and dangerous) symptoms will arise.
According to the veterinary pharmacists at Pet Health Pharmacy, smaller dog breeds like miniature schnauzers, miniature poodles, and cocker spaniels are more prone to pancreatitis. However, larger breeds and older dogs can also be affected.
While there are many possible causes of inflammation of the pancreas, one of the most common causes is poor nutrition. Dog owners who give their dog high-fat food (like bacon or bacon grease) in large quantities open the door to a plethora of health issues associated with the disease.
According to PetMD, obesity, lipemia (high levels of fat in the blood), and trauma to the pancreas are additional factors linked to pancreatitis. Symptoms of pancreatitis include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Increased heart rate
- Lowered potassium levels
Fortunately, pancreatitis is treatable with treatments such as potassium supplements and fluid therapy. Even better, pancreatitis is preventable. Play it safe and keep dogs away from fatty food like bacon. It’s not worth the potential health problems.
If you suspect your dog might have an inflamed pancreas, talk to your vet as soon as possible.
How Bacon’s High Salt Content Affects Your Dog
The excess salt content in bacon is potentially poisonous to dogs. Dogs that eat too much food with high levels of salt content are put at risk for getting salt poisoning, also known as sodium ion poisoning.
The Pet Poison Helpline lists the following signs of salt poisoning:
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive thirst or urination
In addition to bacon, human foods with high levels of salt (e.g., pretzels, chips, seasoned nuts, lunch meat) should not be shared with your dog. High-sodium foods can cause an even more dangerous and life-threatening condition called bloat.
Due to the high salt content in foods like bacon and ham, dogs may become dehydrated, prompting them to drink an excessive amount of water in an effort to satiate their incredible thirst. Their stomachs are filled with too much fluid and gas, which puts pressure on organs, causing the stomach to twist. Bloat can be fatal and typically calls for an emergency trip to the vet for surgery.
Physical and behavioral indicators of bloat include restlessness, swollen stomach, pale gums, anxiousness, drool, excessive pacing, and dry vomiting.
If your dog is a living vacuum who gobbles down his meals, swallowing a great deal of air in the process, try feeding your dog’s meals in a slow feeder or puzzle toy to avoid causing bloat. Measure out smaller servings of water if your dog is a gulper.
If your dog exhibits the aforementioned symptoms of salt poisoning, contact your vet or the 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center at 855-764-7661. If bloat is a concern, don’t hesitate to take your dog to the emergency clinic.
What About Raw Pork?
Along with not giving your dog bacon, it’s not advisable to add raw pork to your dog’s diet as it won’t do your dog’s stomach any favors. Raw bacon and raw pork products put your pooch at risk for trichinosis, a parasitic disease caused by a roundworm parasite known as Trichinella spiralis. PedMD lists the following symptoms of trichinosis:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Inflammation of the muscles
- Muscle pain
- Muscle stiffness
This parasite causes discomfort by working its way into the muscles, resulting in inflammation, pain, and stiffness. So, if you have a package of uncooked bacon laying around while you prepare breakfast, keep it out of reach from any curious pup with a knack for getting into trouble.
That said, accidents happen. What do you do if your doggie snuck some of that bacon off the counter? Be prepared for your furry friend to experience some difficult bowel movements or even vomiting over the next 24 hours and check with your vet for good measure.
Healthier Low-Fat Alternatives to Bacon
If you want to give your dog people food without worrying about gastrointestinal problems, it’s imperative that you learn what is safe to share.
Along with safe people foods — lettuce, peanut butter, or plain boiled chicken, for example — consider adding a probiotic dog treat to your dog’s diet. Because of the sensitive nature of a dog’s digestive tract, it’s hard to know which food is going to cause stomach upset without some trial-and-error. That’s where probiotics come in.
Probiotic dog treats promote healthy digestion and intestinal health to keep your pooch regular, healthy, and happy. Where a condition like pancreatitis inhibits digestive enzymes from moving along, probiotics help enhance your dog’s health by introducing good bacteria and digestive enzymes into your dog’s system.
Can Dogs Eat Bacon? Absolutely Not
At the end of the day, eating fatty, high-sodium food like bacon is too much for any dog’s stomach to handle. Play it safe and stick to regular dog food and dog treats rather than testing their limits with greasy people food.
As always, consult your veterinarian before introducing new foods to your pup and keep a close eye on them to monitor their response.