Can Dogs Eat Ham?

can dogs eat ham

Whether you enjoy a delicious ham dinner or plain old ham sandwiches, you might have wondered if your dog can have this tasty treat too. 

Ham is a convenient and popular meat choice for many people, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to feed your pup. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through whether your dog can eat ham, the potential risks involved, and some safer alternatives to consider for your canine companion.

So … 

Can Dogs Eat Ham?

The short answer is yes, dogs can technically eat ham. But can dogs eat ham safely? In fact, it’s not the healthiest or safest option for them. 

Ham is a processed meat, so it often contains added salt, preservatives, and other seasonings that can be harmful to dogs. 

Plus, ham is high in fat. Eating too much of anything does have risks, fat included. 

Too much fat in your pup’s diet can lead to digestive upset or even more severe health issues in dogs (like increasing risk for pancreatitis). Too much fat in the diet can also rob your dog of other important nutrients. 

Also, since pigs are often given antibiotics, hormones, and more, the fat from many hams is not exactly “healthy fat” (like the fat from grass fed butter, or the fat of a grass-finished steak).  So if you do want to share a little ham with your dog, it’s best to buy naturally cured ham from pasture-raised pigs.

Is Ham Bad For Dogs?

So is ham bad for dogs? The short answer is it can be … if you feed it  regularly or in significant amounts. If your dog is eating too much ham, the fat and sodium could pose health risks. 

That said, while ham isn’t a health food, an occasional small bite of plain, cooked ham also isn’t going to cause immediate harm to most dogs. 

The biggest thing to watch out for is the high salt content in most ham. Sam contains a lot of sodium because it’s cured using salt. Too much salt in your dog’s diet can lead to sodium poisoning. 

Sodium poisoning can lead to symptoms like:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive thirst

The consequences get more severe if it’s left untreated, so it’s best to keep your dog’s sodium intake relatively low and keep an eye out for the symptoms above. 

To give you a rule of thumb, the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (part of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) recommends that a 33 lb dog should eat no more than 200mg of sodium per day. 1 oz of ham contains almost 400g of sodium, so it’s easy to overdo it! 

Are Ham Bones Safe For Dogs?

No, ham bones are not safe for dogs. In fact, they are another risk of ham for dogs. 

Cooked bones in general, which includes ham bones, can splinter easily and may cause choking, internal injuries, or intestinal blockages if ingested by your dog.

So it’s crucial to keep all cooked bones away from your pup’s reach and offer safer alternatives for chewing, like raw meaty bones as part of your dog’s overall diet. 

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Can Dogs Eat Cooked Ham?

Yes, dogs can technically eat cooked ham. But again, due to the fat and salt content it’s not the healthiest meat option for your dog. 

If you want to share a small piece of cooked ham with your dog on special occasions, that’s fine. Just make sure the ham is plain and free from any seasonings, glazes, or sauces … and always opt for ham that’s not given antibiotics or hormones. 

Can Dogs Eat Deli Ham?

The short answer is no, dogs should not eat deli ham. Deli ham is typically processed and contains a higher amount of salt and additives compared to fresh, unprocessed ham. For this reason, deli ham is even less suitable for dogs than other kinds of cooked ham. Even in humans, processed meats are linked to many chronic diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure and even stomach or bowel cancer.

Again, the excess salt and artificial additives in ham can be harmful to your dog’s health, and the risk of this is even higher in deli meats that are smoked or cured. Some preservatives used in deli meats may not be safe for canine consumption, like nitrates. Although these compounds helps keep food fresh for longer, they can be dangerous for your dog in high amounts.

Best Ham Alternatives For Dogs

So if ham isn’t the best choice for your pup, what should you feed instead?

Luckily, there are plenty of safer and healthier alternatives you can consider. 

Here are some better dog-friendly treats you can offer to your furry friend:

  1. Cooked Lean Meats: If you want to give your dog meat as a special treat, opt for lean options like plain cooked chicken, turkey, or beef. Make sure to remove any skin or cooked bones first.
  2. Fruits and Vegetables: Many fruits and vegetables are safe and nutritious for dogs. Offer small portions of plain, fresh fruits like apple slices, blueberries, or watermelon, or vegetables like carrots and green beans.
  3. Homemade Dog Treats: Consider making your own dog treats at home using dog-friendly ingredients. One of the simplest options is to dehydrate organ meats like liver or heart, in a food dehydrator or low oven. 

RELATED: Safe homemade dog training treats …

So remember, dogs can technically eat ham, but only in small amounts on rare occasions. It’s not a recommended treat for them due to its high salt and fat content. 

You’re better off opting for healthier alternatives like lean cooked or dehydrated meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, or homemade dog treats.

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