If wide eyes, a drooling mouth, and an intent stare sound familiar, then chances are, you have eaten a piece of bacon in front of your dog before. Bacon and other pork products may be common staples in the home, and unsurprisingly, the product of much begging on the part of our canine friends. And it’s easy to understand why, since pork products offer a strong and savory aroma that is as mouthwatering to our dogs as it may be to humans. But is it safe to share?
Dogs are carnivores by nature, and a large portion of their diet is made up of protein from meat. For this reason, a lot of dog parents don’t really give a second thought to handing over a piece of pork, or even of that aforementioned slice of bacon. The problem, however, is that there are quite a few variables that need to be met for your dog to safely enjoy pork, and the pork that humans eat usually doesn’t pass the test.
When Pork Isn’t Okay for Dogs
Before you give your dog pork, it’s very important that you know what’s safe and what’s not.
For starters, dogs can only eat cooked pork. If a pork product is raw, or otherwise undercooked, it is dangerous for both humans and canines, as it may contain Trichinella parasites that can cause pain, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, and other not-so-great side effects.
What about pork in a raw dog food diet then? The difference here, is that the pork has been properly treated for this type of consumption, typically through a process of freezing for a set period of time to effectively kill off those pesky parasites. Standard raw pork from the grocery store, even high quality pork, hasn’t undergone the same treatment.
A second thing worth noting here, is that dogs can only eat plain pork. The ingredients that we use to make pork flavorful—think garlic, onion, chili powder, mustard, and lots and lots of salt—all pose potential dangers for our pups’ stomachs. That means that the cooked pork off of a human's plate, including that slice of fried bacon, are too decadent for your canine companion. No ham or bacon for Fido, and no cured pork products of any kind.
Next, dogs shouldn’t be eating the fat of pork. Most pork products are heavy in fat, and many have sections of fat that remain on them, even after they’re cooked. This fat is highly difficult for dogs to digest, and can be a precursor to some serious stomach upset, particularly due to inflammation and irritation in the pancreas.
And finally, no cooked pork bones for dogs. Any cooked bone can splinter and pose a risk for choking and/or tears in the digestive system. Stick to the bones and antlers that you get from the pet store.
How to 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. That means, no seasoning, and making sure that any obvious fat is removed and the pork is fully cooked. Likewise, you shouldn’t just be throwing down a pork chop in front of your dog and calling it a day. It’s crucial that you 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 vet if these signs do not go away within a short period of time.
Should You Feed Your Dog Pork?
There are a lot of foods that humans eat, which can be safely fed to your dog without having to worry too much about it—but pork isn’t one of them. If you follow all of the guidelines above and feed only minimal amounts, your dog will probably be okay, but with so many other options out there, it might be one human food you’re just better off leaving out of the equation altogether.
Sorry pup, but you’re just going to have to enjoy that bacon through smell alone. We promise, there are a lot of other delicious things out there for you though, including carrots, peanut butter, and plenty of different kinds of fruits.