Can Dogs Have Ham?

Last Updated on February 17, 2023 by Becky Roberts

Paint a mental picture of this one.

You are preparing yourself food at the dinner table. For tonight’s menu, you opted to go for a few slices of bread, and a nice, tasty ham.

A few seconds later, your dog approaches from right beside you, with those cute, begging eyes, asking if they can have a slice of that scrumptious treat. You hesitate to offer him one, and to your surprise, you are caught completely unaware if hams are indeed safe for dogs.

If the simple question is the same as the title of this blog, then yes, dogs can definitely have ham.

However, they may be some technical aspects as to why this question tends to raise the eyebrows of some dog owners.

As humans, we are all accustomed to having this tasty treat as part of our holiday foods. In fact, it is fairly hard to imagine any sort of celebration and festivities without ham served on the table. They’re just that good!

But before deep-diving with the matter at hand, let’s take a look at why there are certain people who have this fear or uncertainty, if this delectable piece of meat can in fact harm your pooch.

dog eating from hand

The Curious Case of Processed Meat

Hams, or processed fatty foods and meat in general, contains many harmful chemicals that are not present in fresh meat. Processed meat are ones that has been preserved by curing, salting, smoking, drying, or canning.

However, the types of white meat that have been simply just cut or frozen are considered unprocessed.

For humans, excessive processed meat intake is commonly associated  with an increased risk of many chronic diseases, such as hypertension, bowel and stomach cancer, and heart diseases.Which is why it is highly recommended that such types of meat be taken in moderation.

Now, if this is the effect of the said type of meat on humans, what does it mean for your dog?

Effects of Ham on Dogs

We have now clearly established that most hams found on your favorite grocery store are processed foods, and can lead to certain unhealthy situations for humans. For your pet dog however, excessive intake of the tasty meat can lead to even more serious conditions.

Lots of sodium is an always will be bad news for a dog’s intestinal tract. Some of the main dangers you need to be made aware of are inflammation or pancreatitis, choking or perforation, and trichinosis.

Pancreatitis (or the inflammation of the pancreas) often times occur when your dog’s diet is high in fat, causing the digestive enzymes to overreact and start digesting everything before reaching your dog’s intestinal system.

Since hams are known for being fatty foods, it easily becomes a concern when you factor out the sodium and carcinogens from the traditional smoking process of this meat.

Another thing you need to be aware of is the occurrence of “bloat”, or a condition in which your dog intakes too much water caused by salty food. This is a case in which your dog’s stomach fills up with gas and within several hours may twist, causing your pet to die.

On the other hand, cooked bones can also be harmful for your dogs, as these tiny pieces are often times hidden in juicy pieces of meat. When mixed with dog food, it might even be impossible to see, so it’s best be careful to steer clear of cooked or raw bones, as they may cause unwanted splinters or cuts as your dog chews on their food.

Trichinosis (or pork roundworm) is also another thing you should be on the lookout for and should be careful of. A roundworm may be found in uncooked, under cooked, or contaminated meat.

When put inside your dog’s system, the parasite has tendencies to migrate from the stomach to the muscles, which can lead to cramping, inflammation, and even death in severe cases. In addition to that, roundworm treatment can also be expensive, as it requires ongoing urine, fecal, and blood testing until such time that the tests become negative.

The Inevitable Bite

Chances are, you may have already given your dog a slice or even a few strips more. Don’t worry!

If your pooch already ate a small cube of ham meat and there are no visible drastic changes, then it shouldn’t be a big deal.

However, if you recently gave your dog a small helping, and you notice that he is drinking insane amounts of water, or if he is having an obvious shift in energy, or if there is a slight tilt in his bathroom habits, then it may be the time to seek for professional help from a licensed veterinarian. Better to be safe then sorry!

The Good Side

I know, you’re probably wondering how such a seemingly harmful treat can have a good side! But just like any other meat, ham can be a decent source of energy for your pooch.

While a small amount may be harmless, it helps to know that you should avoid feeding your dog this sort of meat as an alternative means to meet their protein needs. As another approach, limit their ham intake and serve it as a very special treat, and it helps to do so only occasionally.

The Final Cut

Is ham safe your dog?

After reading further, we have concluded that while dogs can in fact have ham, anything that is fatty or has lots of sodium content will never be safe, and should in fact be taken in moderation. Other excellent food alternatives would be dog treats that are flavored, or even the usual dog food that your pet loves.

Other recommendations would be for a dog to have a certain raw food diet. Each time your dog chews such meat, it enables you as a pet owner to be assured that little to no preservatives are being served to your pooch. It’s also worth mentioning that any sort of cooked ham bone or pork bones should be steered clear of.

Lastly, make sure to closely monitor whatever food your dog intakes, and if any serious symptoms occur, it’s always best to pay the veterinarian a visit.

Becky Roberts

Becky Roberts

One of Becky's favourite things to do every morning is to browse the top pet-related forums, looking for issues and questions that people have. She then shortlists the most common ones, and turns them into blog posts for Fuzzy Rescue. She's had over 4 cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, so she does know a thing or 2 about raising/training, and more importantly, loving them. She's the only one on our team that doesn't like coffee, but it seems to us she really doesn't need more energy :). We're very fortunate to have her on board as she does most of the heavy listing for the site, outputting an insane amount of content each month. Read More

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