Imagine waking up in the morning to the overwhelming smell of freshly cooked bacon, the mouthwatering aroma dragging you to the kitchen.
Now imagine that smell up to 100 million times stronger.
With your pup's nose so sensitive and so strong, it comes with no surprise that their eyes get huge and they seem to be speaking to us when there’s bacon in the kitchen.
“Are you going to share with me, human?”
Is it safe to share bacon with your dog? Here’s what you need to know.
Is Bacon Safe For My Dog?
While bacon remains a delicious must-have for a human breakfast, it may not be the option of choice for your best friend.
Traditionally, sodium was used as a method for drying and preserving meats, which was essential prior to refrigeration. This made meats like bacon, ham, deli loaves, and other salty delights common in every home.
As refrigerators became popularized, the taste for bacon did, too.
The bacon we’ve come to love is packed full of salt and other seasonings used in a process known as dry curing, where the acids found in the sodium pull the moisture from the meat, reducing the risk of spoilage and increasing the shelf life and natural savory flavors.
A single piece of bacon contains around 137 mg of sodium, with sweet-flavored bacon being packed with sugars and around 3.3 grams of fat.
These levels of seasoning are bad for your dogs and should be avoided, which leads us to the basic answer: no, the typical slice of bacon isn’t really safe for your dog.
Is Pork Safe For My Dog?
While store-bought bacon should be avoided because of the high levels of seasoning, what about pork, in general?
Cooked pork is completely safe for your dogs when cooked without seasonings. Safe pet cooking practices can elevate meals for the whole family.
Much like the dangers of pork for humans, you and your pups should never eat raw pork. High levels of dangerous bacteria or parasites can be found in raw, uncooked, or undercooked pork. While the meat becomes extremely safe to consume once cooked, eating raw meats could make you or your pup sick because of parasites such as Trichinella spiralis, which could lead to a disease known as trichinosis.
Is Smoked Bacon Safe For My Dog?
Smoking is a form of meat curing and flavor adding, and can be found as hot smoking or cold smoking.
In both the hot and cold smoking process, wood is heated to release certain aromas, creating a depth of flavor. These flavors are different depending on the wood being used, as an applewood smoked bacon will use wood from apple trees and produce a smooth mellow flavor, while a hickory smoked bacon will use wood from a hickory tree creating a stronger woody flavor.
Traditional smoking methods, often referred to as hot smoking, places meats in a hot enclosed chamber with the selected wood burning or being heated. The heat allows the smoke to penetrate into the meat, cooking the meat while smoking.
Cold smoking separates the wood heating source from the smoking chamber, allowing items such as cheese or meats to be smoked without being heated (of course, you don’t want your cheeses to melt during the process). Cold smoking does not cure or cook the meat, only adding a smoky aroma.
The smoking process itself generally won’t cause risk to your dog — the problem is that many smoked meats are heavily seasoned, including deli meats and bacon. These meats should be avoided due to the extremely high sodium content.
Is Canadian Bacon Safe For Dogs?
If you’ve ever ordered or bought Canadian bacon, you’ll notice it is a VERY different product from your typical American bacon. Canadian bacon is sliced from the pork loin, a far leaner cut of meat than the belly or back that American bacon comes from. The seasoning is more closely related to ham, with some Canadian bacon being salty and others being sugary and sweet like a honey ham.
While the fat content is reduced from traditional bacon, high levels of salt or sugars could be harmful to your pup, so Canadian bacon should generally be avoided, too.
Can Dogs Have Just a Little Bacon?
You find yourself in a predicament — you really want your pup to try bacon. It’s the most delicious part of your breakfast, and you can’t take those puppy dog eyes any longer.
You’ve read the ingredients thoroughly, and while you know the salt and fat content is a bit high, there are none of the big no-no ingredients like xylitol.
Can they have just a taste?
The short answer is technically yes, they may be able to have just a taste of bacon.
With a product that ultimately remains such a high health risk to your best friend, you have to weigh the risks in the given situation — it’s usually not going to throw their whole system out of whack if they get a tiny, bite-sized piece, on the rare occasion, but any more than that poses a risk for all that sodium to damage to their digestive system.
What Are The Health Risks of Too Much Bacon For Dogs?
Salt risks for our pups are very similar to the salt risks for humans, with their small bodies and lack of salt in their daily diet making the effects of excess salt intake even more severe.
Heavy sodium consumption could lead to health issues such as diarrhea and excessive urination, which could lead to dehydration and further stomach issues. Vomiting could persist due to stomach irritation. More severe conditions such as seizures and tremors are also serious health risks.
Excess amounts of fat, such as those found in bacon, could lead to obesity or acute pancreatitis. Pups experiencing issues with their pancreas may show signs such as acting lethargic, whining, whimpering, or avoiding their food and water.
If your pup begins to experience any of these health conditions, contact your veterinarian and begin monitoring and tracking the issues very closely.
Get out a piece of paper. Every time your dog experiences a condition, such as vomiting, write down the time of the event, how long it lasted, if it’s ongoing, what’s in the vomit, and any differences in your pup emotionally and physically.
What Do I Do If My Dog Ate a Lot of Bacon?
If your puppo has consumed a large amount of bacon, such as snatching the plate off the table and chowing down while you went to refill your coffee, you may need to stop everything you’re doing and take them to the vet.
Take note of how much bacon they have eaten, and at what time.
Give your vet a call, explaining what has just happened. During this time, you need to pay close attention to your pup, taking notes of any changes.
You’ll want to closely monitor your pup using the restroom, ensuring everything remains normal.
Depending on how much bacon your pup has eaten, your veterinarian may recommend you bring your dog in so they can induce vomiting, or they may even recommend inducing vomiting at home. This is done with specified levels of hydrogen peroxide for your dog's weight, so you need to follow your veterinarian's instructions very closely.
How To Cook Dog-Safe Bacon
Bacon alternatives can be cooked for your fur babies with a bit of care and time.
While raw pork should never be eaten by you or your dogs, fully cooked meats are a must-have in your pup's bowl.
When cooking meats for your puppos, you’ll want to remove large amounts of excess fats and any tendons or chewy parts of the meat. Seasoning should be kept to an absolute minimum, or even better, avoided altogether.
Bacon, while commonly cut from a slab of meat known as pork belly, can really be sliced from any section of meat. Healthier alternatives could be cut from any pork steak or roast, and are a great source of proteins for your pup. Chilled meats will allow you to slice thin, even strips. If you find the meat is still moving too much while trying to slice, place your meat in the freezer for five to ten minutes to temporarily harden it up a bit and make it easier to thinly slice.
A small drop of olive oil is not only safe for your pup, but can support healthy skin and lead to a softer coat. That said, remember to avoid the use of seasonings such as garlic, which is sometimes infused into more gourmet oils.
Another great oil option is raw coconut oil, which not only benefits your pup's health, but provides flavor to your pup's food.
In virtually all cases, you shouldn’t feed your dog bacon. If they sneak just a taste, your dog will usually be okay, but note that their stomach can’t handle the high levels of sodium or seasonings so you shouldn’t be regularly sneaking bacon to them as a treat.
You should consider avoiding meats with preservatives, sodium, and other seasonings and additives that just aren’t designed for dogs.
If you’re looking to spoil your pup with something delicious, give them quality food so good they’ll think it’s a treat, like the scientifically tested and trusted recipe right here at Sundays For Dogs. You can feed confidently knowing your dogs are getting food packed with the needed nutrients without the sodium, artificial preservatives, and just plain junk you’ll find in other dog foods.
Instead, our formula is packed with USDA-grade beef, Pumpkin, Wild Salmon Oils, Blueberries, and other nutrient-dense puppo superfoods.