- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Dogs can eat pork—meat from a pig—safely. However, this type of meat has too much fat for them to eat it every day.
Plus, some parts of the pig are safer for dogs to eat than others. The way you cook the pork and how much you give your dog are also important factors that help determine whether pork is a tasty treat or a health hazard.
Read on to get the details on feeding your dog pork, including the safest types, how to serve it, and how much your dog can eat.
What Types Of Pork Can Dogs Eat?
When feeding your dog pork, you’ll want to stick with plain, cooked meat. This is the safest form of meat to feed a dog.
To fully eliminate bacteria and parasites, always heat roasts to 145°F and ground meats to 160°F.
If you plan to give your dog some of the pork, it’s best to skip the seasoning. “Dogs have a more sensitive digestive system than humans, and spicy foods can lead to stomach irritation or even diarrhea,” says Dr. Dench.
Important: Never share meat that contains onion or garlic with your dog. According to Dr. Dench, these spices can damage your dog’s red blood cells and lead to anemia. They are toxic to dogs in their raw, cooked, and powdered form.
This is pork’s most “natural” state, but you and your dog can get sick if you eat it.
Raw meat generally isn’t safe for humans or dogs. In fact, eating raw pork can carry a risk of Salmonella infection. Raw pork doesn’t pose as much of a risk of Salmonella infection as raw chicken, but one study found Salmonella in 1.4% of ground pork samples at U.S. grocery stores.
Dr. Baker adds that some pork may contain Trichinella spiralis larvae. These parasitic worms can burrow into your dog’s muscle tissues and make them seriously ill.
This type of pork has been salted, cured, or otherwise altered to change the flavor or extend its shelf life.
“Processed pork products like bacon, ham, or sausages often contain high levels of salt, spices, and additives, which can be harmful to dogs,” says Dr. Dench. “These ingredients can lead to stomach upset, pancreatitis, or other health complications.”
Bacon and ham, in particular, are often very salty. A single slice of cooked bacon has 115 milligrams (mg) of sodium. So, two slices would put a 33-pound dog well over their daily sodium limit of 200 mg. Dr. Dench says too much salt can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
While veterinarians and pet experts don’t always agree on whether dogs can gnaw on bones safely, the general consensus is that it’s best to avoid giving your dog raw pig bones, Dr. Baker says.
Pork bones, especially cooked bones, can be brittle and prone to splintering. A cracked bone can pose a choking hazard, and any bone splinters your dog manages to swallow can scratch up their throat and intestines.
What Parts Of The Pig Can Dogs Eat Or Chew?
When it comes to serving your dog pork, the cooking method is important—but the part of the pig the meat comes from matters, too.
Some portions of the pig are fattier and harder to digest. You’ll also want to use caution when giving your dog chews made out of pig parts, as some chews aren’t as safe as others.
In the chart below, Dr. Dench shares details on the pork cuts that are safest for dogs.
|Part of the pig||Can dogs eat or chew this?|
|Back||Yes. Loin and tenderloin are cuts of leaner meat from your pig’s back. These cuts offer a good balance of protein and nutrients without excessive fat content.|
|Rump||Yes. Rump meat, which comes from a pig’s rear, is generally considered a leaner cut compared to other portions of the animal. It contains less visible fat and marbling, making it a healthier option for dogs.|
|Belly||No. When it comes to pork, it’s important to avoid feeding dogs fatty or greasy cuts, such as the belly. The fat content in pig belly can upset your dog’s stomach.|
|Skin||No. Pork skin, also called crackling, is another fatty and greasy cut. A small amount likely won’t cause major issues, but it’s safest to avoid feeding dogs pork skin intentionally or as a regular treat.|
|Trotters||No. Trotters, also called pig’s feet or hooves, contain a significant amount of connective tissue and fat. These are great for adding flavor to certain dishes, but not so great for your furry friend to snack on.|
|Bones||No. Take care to remove any bones before feeding pork to your dog, since they can splinter and cause choking or internal injuries.|
|Snouts||No. Your dog may enjoy chewing on snouts, but it’s best to exercise caution. Since they can be tough, there’s a chance they may cause dental fractures or other oral injuries.|
|Ears||With caution. Like snouts, pig ear chews can be tough on your dog’s teeth. Plus, they’re often treated with preservatives. If you do give your dog a pig ear, read the label to make sure they’re free from additives that could harm your dog—and always supervise the chewing session!|
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, an 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, a 117-pound dog needs 1927 calories a day, so they could 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.
What Meats Can Dogs Eat Instead of Pork?
If pork doesn’t agree with your dog’s stomach, you might try feeding them other kinds of meat.
In the chart below, Dr. Baker shares a few options.
|Meat||Why it might be a good alternative|
|Chicken||Chicken is another lean protein commonly used in dog food. It’s high in essential amino acids and glucosamine, which can help support your dog’s joints. However, some dogs may have chicken allergies.|
|Turkey||Turkey is a lean, low-fat protein often recommended for dogs who are less active or have excess body weight. It’s rich in important nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium, and taurine. However, some dogs may be allergic to turkey.|
|Beef||Beef is a great source of protein that contains essential vitamins and minerals like B12, zinc, selenium, and iron. Most dogs tolerate beef well.|
|Lamb||Vets may recommend lamb for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies since it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction compared to other meats. It’s a good source of essential amino acids and dietary fats, which can help sustain energy.|
But while these meats can be a great source of protein and nutrients, meat doesn’t meet all of your dog’s dietary needs! Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores, so they need a variety of foods to cover all their nutritional bases.
If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s diet, your vet can offer more guidance with finding the best food for your best friend.