Can dogs eat pork? Can dogs have pork bones? Dogs are commonly viewed as carnivores, and therefore owners usually do not question feeding their furry friends meat.
However, there are different health benefits and risks associated with feeding your dog different types of meat.
Dogs can eat cooked pork safely in moderate quantities. It provides them with quality protein and B12, both of which are necessary for the maintenance of healthy muscles and a number of other important bodily processes.
However, pork also has a high-fat content, which makes it more difficult for dogs to digest. As a result, too much pork can lead to certain health issues.
So, pork should not be the main protein source for your dog.
Before Giving your Dog Pork…
When it comes to pork, there are more considerations than just, “Can dogs eat pork?” It’s just as important to ask, “Can dogs eat pork bones?” and “Can dogs eat pork rib bones?”
Owners often assume that bones are an ideal treat for dogs but this is not always the case and. In fact, some bones can be very dangerous to your pet.
Let’s take a look at pork and pork bones in a variety of forms to better understand what’s a safe treat for your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Pork?
Pork is made up of, well, pork! More specifically, pork is almost completely made out of protein. In fact, it contains about 81% protein, with the rest being fat.
Pork is a decent source of vitamin C, niacin, phosphorus, and zinc. It is also a very good source of vitamin B12, iron, and selenium.
Pork is one of the most popular and widely eaten meats across the world. Did you know that pigs were first domesticated in 4900 B.C. in China? And today, the United States is the world’s largest producer of pork, exporting to 100 different countries.
Domesticated Dogs and Pork
Humans have been eating pork for thousands of years, but what about domesticated dogs? Dogs do require a lot of quality protein in their diet. And most dog foods contain animal protein.
However, chicken and beef tend to be the most common animal protein sources found in commercial dog food. Why is that? Despite all its nutrients, is pork bad for dogs?
Pork is actually safe for dogs in limited quantities. It provides some essential nutrients that dogs need and also has a high protein content. So, dogs can eat cooked, unseasoned pork.
However, pork has a higher fat content than chicken or lean beef. And too much fat can cause digestive issues and health problems in dogs. While dogs can eat pork, they are better off eating leaner proteins as the main component of their diet.
Pork and Dogs
Despite some beliefs, dogs are carnivores. This means that they are designed to get almost all of their nutrients and energy from meat.
Furthermore, it has been found that the dietary preference of dogs is very similar to wolves. One study found that wolves have a nutrient preference for a diet with a protein-fat-carb ratio of 54:45:1. A different study found that the dietary ratio for dogs was 30:63:7.
As you can see, their preferred diets are quite similar. Both eat very few carbs and instead focus largely on protein and fats.
But what does this mean when it comes to giving dogs pork? Well, pork matches this dietary preference pretty well. It mostly contains protein, but also has a decent amount of fat in it.
But let’s look at some of the vitamins and minerals pork contains and how they interact with your dog’s diet. This will help us get a more complete picture.
Dogs and Vitamin C
Vitamin C is technically not a requirement in a dog’s diet as dogs can produce Vitamin C on their own. However, some research has shown that it can provide health benefits to sick or stressed dogs.
Dogs who are chronically ill or stressed have exhibited lower than average amounts of vitamin C in their bloodstream. This hints at the possibility that these types of dogs regularly use vitamin C at a higher rate than healthy dogs. Therefore, they may benefit from an increased amount of Vitamin C in their diet due to their increased use.
Dogs and B12
Pork is also a wonderful source of Vitamin B12. This vitamin improves the function of three types of enzymes.
These enzymes would not be able to function properly without Vitamin B12. If these enzymes do not function properly, your dog’s chance of developing hyperhomocysteinemia increases.
This is a medical condition characterized by an abnormally high level of an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine. This amino acid plays a part in metabolism.
What Does This Mean?
Simply put, as protein is broken down in the blood system, this amino acid is left behind. Vitamin B12 then transforms this amino acid into a usable form.
This process does not occur correctly when a canine does not have enough B12. And this leaves homocysteine floating around in the blood.
This abnormal level is associated with cardiovascular disease.
Pork clearly has nutrients that are very beneficial to canine health, however, these nutrients can be found in other foods as well. So, is pork good for dogs, or are there risks to feeding your dog pork?
When is Pork Bad For Dogs?
Pork can come in different forms and preparations and so can their bones. Not all variations of pork are safe for dogs to eat.
Raw and undercooked pork is dangerous to dogs as they can potentially cause trichinosis, a condition that can result when the meat is infested with the larvae of a parasitic worm called Trichinella spiralis.
Puppies and older dogs, in particular, are more at risk.
Symptoms of this condition include upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated fever, lethargy, muscle inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
If your pet has a weakened immune system, due to a previous disease, for example, it could increase the chances of their getting infected.
Due to this reason, it is always important to cook the pork well before giving it to your pooch. Cooking the meat kills this parasite and prevents your dog from contracting it.
Is Pork Good For Dogs?
As you can see, in some respects, pork fits in pretty well to a dog’s diet.
It matches a dog’s preferred level of carbs and protein. Plus, it also contains a number of nutrients that are very helpful in a dog’s diet.
However, with that said, there is a high-fat content in pork. Too much fat in a dog’s diet can cause digestive issues and can also lead to inflammation and pancreatitis.
Pork is best served to your pooch infrequently and in small portions.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the other variations of pork and find out if they are safe for your pet.
Can Dogs Eat Pork Sausage Or Pork With Spices And Sauce?
While plain pork is okay for your dog to eat, pork sausage, which is usually mixed with salt and seasonings, or pork covered in spices or sauce is not.
Many spices are actually toxic for dogs, including onion, garlic, and nutmeg. These can cause a very serious reaction if consumed by your pooch.
Many sauces, especially BBQ sauce, also contain these ingredients. For this reason, it is best to opt to only feed your dog unseasoned pork with absolutely no sauce.
If your pooch does consume pork with spices on it, it is important to keep a close eye on them for a reaction. You should contact your vet as soon as possible if you notice any strange behavior in your pet.
Can Dogs Eat Bacon?
Bacon has a high sodium content and is quite fatty, so it is not good for your dog. Large amounts of fat can lead to a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis.
Salt is also dangerous as it can be toxic to dogs. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fluid build-up, and excessive thirst. It can even cause kidney damage, seizures, and possibly death.
Bacon and other salty cured pork products such as pork rind are a no-no for your pooch, no matter how much they look up at you with those pleading, puppy dog eyes.
Can Dogs Eat Pork Bones?
Can dogs eat pork bones? The stereotypical image of a dog with a bone can be a bit misleading. Not all bones are safe for dogs, so let’s address the questions, “Can dogs have pork bones?”
This is a complex question for a number of reasons. On the one hand, natural, unprocessed pork bones are okay for your pooch. However, it isn’t safe to feed your dog raw pork.
Cooked pork is safe for dogs, but the bones certainly are not.
It’s tricky answering the question, “Can dogs eat pork bones?”
Because the act of cooking bones dries them out and can cause them to become fragile and break. This can create tiny bone-splinters that can cause damage to your pup’s mouth and digestive tract.
They are a choking hazard, in addition to potentially causing obstructions or perforations in your dog’s digestive tract.
So, can dogs have pork bones? Absolutely not.
Can Dogs Eat Pork Rib Bones?
Does your dog look up at you longingly as you savor a plate full of tender, juicy ribs? Have you thought about giving your furry companion a taste and wondered, can dogs have pork rib bones?
Tempting as it is to share your yummy treat, you’ll have to resist the urge. Just like all other pork bones, pork rib bones are dangerous for dogs. They will also splinter and cause damage to your dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines.
The answer to the question, “Can dogs eat pork rib bones?” is the exact same as, “Can dogs have pork bones?” Absolutely not.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Raw Pork?
Contact your veterinarian if your dog happens to get their paws on some raw pork. There are tests that can determine if your dog has trichinosis.
Watch for signs like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, or muscle inflammation.
Can Pork Treat Health Issues In Dogs?
Pork may provide some nutritional value but it does not treat any health or hygiene issues in dogs. There is no specific benefit to feeding your dog pork over another quality protein. It is simply a tasty treat!
Should I Give My Dog Pork?
Pork is safe for dogs. You may choose to give them some cooked, unseasoned pork as a little snack. Just keep in mind too much pork isn’t good for your dog’s digestion. Keep it in moderation.
Remember that pork bones for dogs are a bad idea. Serve them the meat and keep the bones well out of reach.
How To Prepare Pork for Dogs
Always serve your four-legged friend cooked pork. To prevent the risk of choking it is best if you cut the pork up in to bit sized pieces.
Pork bones for dogs are never safe, so make sure you cut the meat off the bone before giving it to your dog.
Seasonings and barbeque sauce can contain ingredients toxic to dogs, so be sure to feed your dog plain pork. Salt is not healthy for dogs either and a high sodium diet can cause many of the same health issues in dogs as it does in people. In fact, it can even be toxic and lead to some serious health problems, like kidney failure.
Don’t serve your pet salted pork or any salty or cured versions of pork. Your dog probably salivates at the smell of sizzling bacon but feeding them some is not in their best interest.
Alternatives To Pork for Dogs
If you are looking for protein-rich treats that your dog will enjoy, consider trying out one of these tasty bites on them:
Can Dogs Eat Pork Summary
Can dogs eat pork? Yes, pork off is perfectly okay for your dog to eat on occasion.
And can dogs eat pork bones or pork rib bones? Certainly not. These bones are dry and brittle once cooked and can splinter, resulting in serious damage to your dog’s mouth or digestive tract.
Should dogs eat bacon, salted, or spiced pork products? Also, no. Some spices are toxic to dogs and salt can be as well.
If you do feed your dog pork, it is important that the pork is unseasoned and well-cooked. Seasoned or raw pork can cause serious health issues for your dog.
Pork is high in fat and a high-fat diet can cause inflammation, pancreatitis, and other digestive problems. Keep the portions small and use pork as a special treat rather than a main staple in their diet.
What About Your Dog?
Does your dog like pork? How do you feed it to them?
Let us know in the comments below!
References and Further Reading
- Anastasio, A. 2017. ”Can Dog’s Eat Pork?” American Kennel Club (AKC).
- Bosch, G. et. al. 2015. “Dietary nutrient profiles of wild wolves: insights for optimal dog nutrition?” British Journal of Nutrition.
- Gebreselassie, E., and Jewell, D. E. 2019. ” Metabolites.” Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
- Hewson-Hughes, A. 2013. “Geometric analysis of macronutrient selection in breeds of the domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris.” Behavioral Ecology.
- Pet Poison Helpline. 2019. ”Salt.”
- Pork Checkoff. 2019. ” Fun Facts About Pork History.” National Pork Board.
- medical news today: human foods for dogs
- SELF Nutrition Data. 2018. “Pork, fresh, variety meats and by-products, spleen, cooked, braised Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Condé Nast.
- Steiner, J. “Cobalamin: Diagnostic use and therapeutic considerations.” Gastrointestinal Laboratory.
- Stromberg, B. E. ” Trichinellosis (Trichinosis) in Dogs.” MSD Manual Veterinary Manual.
We have extensively revised and updated this article for 2019.