Can Dogs Eat Bacon Safely? What Are the True Risks?

Written by Lisha Pace
Updated: October 6, 2022
© nelea33/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:

  • A tiny portion of bacon on occasion is ok – but overall, bacon is not a safe food for dogs.
  • The fat and grease in bacon causes indigestion and other complications like pancreatitis.
  • High salt content in bacon can cause bloating, dehydration and gastric torsion.
  • Cheese and eggs can be safe treats for your dog instead of bacon.

The smell of freshly prepared bacon is irresistible to you and your dog. Your little canine friend will look at you with his tilted head and innocent eyes to tempt you to give him a bite. But is bacon a safe food to give to your dog? Unfortunately, it is not.

Dogs benefit from healthy lean meat, but it is not advisable to feed them bacon. This specific pork meat has a lot of fat and grease, both of which are harmful to dogs. In addition, it causes indigestion problems and other complications like pancreatitis.

Although a tiny piece of bacon once in a while won’t harm your dog, it is best to keep bacon off his diet completely. Here are the reasons why you should not feed your dog bacon, the health effects of this delicious meat, and what to do if your dog eats bacon.

Why Bacon Is Unhealthy for Dogs

Bacon is pork meat cut from the pork belly, but most of it is made from the very fatty side cuts. Chefs prepare it by first preserving the meat in salt, seasoning, and sugar. They then smoke at low heat to ensure the bacon does not cook thoroughly. Salt and preservatives are then added to make the meat last longer.

Feeding bacon to your dog can lead to stomach upsets caused by the ingredients in the meat. Besides, the high amounts of fat and grease can cause digestive issues, leading to poor feeding. Check out the other health risks of feeding bacon to your dog.

Health Risks of Feeding Your Dog Bacon

Low bacon consumption will not cause adverse health effects to your dog, but high consumption can be dangerous. Some of the health risks of bacon are:

1. Pancreatitis

Bacon causes inflammation to the dog’s pancreas because of the high fat. The pancreas releases enzymes responsible for digestion, but less digestion of food and nutrients takes place in the dog’s body when it is inflamed.

Although the smaller dog breeds are mostly affected by pancreas inflammation, the big dogs are also endangered. The symptoms of pancreas inflammation are:

  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased heart rate

Luckily, pancreatitis is treatable with potassium supplements and fluid therapy. But, much better, you can prevent it by not giving your dog fatty foods and bacon.

Instead of giving your little friend a harmful piece of bacon, get the foods that offer proper nourishment, provide energy and lead to a healthy coat and skin. Also, note that these foods are categorized depending on the dog’s size, breed, and age.

2. Bloating

One of the main ingredients of bacon is salt. Salt causes dehydration in humans and also dogs’ bodies. When the dog is too thirsty, he will drink a lot of water, leading to a buildup of excess fluids and gases. This leads to gastric torsion, which is caused by twisting of the dog’s stomach.

Some signs of gastric torsion are restlessness, swollen stomach, and drooling. The dog could also start dry vomiting and pacing excessively. The condition is fatal and could require emergency surgery by your vet.

3. Sodium-Ion Poisoning

Besides bloating, too much salt used in preserving bacon can be poisonous to the dog. The symptoms of salt poisoning are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Tremors

Sodium-ion poisoning also leads to excess thirsting and urinating, which causes gastric torsion. So to keep your dog safe from health complications, avoid giving him bacon and other high sodium foods like chips and seasoned nuts.

4. Obesity and Clogged Arteries

The high fat content and grease in bacon can lead to weight gain for your dog. The fatty acids can also cause indigestion or gastrointestinal upset and lead to abdominal pain or even clogged arteries.

Are There Health Benefits of Bacon for Dogs?

Although large amounts of bacon are harmful to your dog, small portions of the meat have health benefits. It makes the dog feel full fast, hence controlling his weight. However, it is safer to feed the dog bacon you prepared at home.

If you are baking the bacon, not adding salt will help to reduce the amounts of sodium. You can also eliminate the other preservatives and any other harmful ingredients to your dog. Even though, ensure you feed the dog only a small amount of bacon. You can also mix the small chunks with the dog’s regular meal.

Do Not Give Your Dog Raw Pork Either

Besides bacon, raw pork is also not good for your dog. The meat has many parasites like roundworms that could lead to health effects. Some symptoms of parasitic infections on your dog are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Gastrointestinal upset

Measures to Take When Your Dog Eats Bacon

If your dog had a small piece of bacon, there is no need to worry. However, if he gobbled down your breakfast plate full of bacon without your consent, you should act fast.

The dog undoubtedly enjoyed the meal, but he probably will not be at peace in the next hour or two. The most likely outcome will be stomach upset due to the high salt and fat concentration because it causes bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If the symptoms persist, take your dog to the veterinarian. The vet will examine the dog to look for signs of dehydration. The vet will check for pale gums, sunken eyes, and loss of skin elasticity. The vet could prescribe a blunt diet to help with your pet’s tummy upset or probiotics.

If the symptoms are too severe and there are signs of severe infections, the vet will need a blood sample to test for pancreatitis and dehydration. A certain level of enzymes shows pancreatitis, and dehydration can be noticed through kidney examinations.

If your dog suffers dehydration, he will require intravenous fluids administered through a drip. The vet also gives other fluids to counteract dehydration, pain relievers, and anti-nausea medications to keep your little canine friend comfortable.

You can go home with your pet once you report the bacon accident to the vet and the treatment is over. Ensure you follow the vet’s instructions and only feed the dog what they advise. You should also keep the bacon and other harmful foods away to maintain the dog’s health and safety. Also, carefully dispose of the bacon cans because some dogs want to reach out for the last flavor.

Healthy Foods to Give Your Canine

Since bacon contains a lot of fat and grease and can cause pancreatitis, you can substitute it with these healthy dog foods:

  • Cheese: your canine friend will enjoy a small piece of cheese. However, you must ensure your dog is lactose intolerant, a factor many homeowners ignore. Also, get the cheese that contains low fat.
  • Eggs are suitable for your pup, but ensure they are thoroughly cooked. They supply your little fur friend’s body with proteins and are a good snack for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Bacon has more side effects than health benefits for your dog, so it is not a healthy food for them. Some dog owners feed the pets bacon because it helps with weight control, but you can buy more nutritious foods to help with weight. In addition, bacon causes stomach upsets and pancreatitis, which are fatal conditions and need immediate treatment.

If you’d like to treat your dog to the delicious taste of bacon without the health risks, consider one of these products:

  1. Zesty Paws Turmeric Curcumin Bites Bacon Flavored Soft Chews Multivitamin for Dogs
  2. Zesty Paws Turmeric Curcumin Bites Bacon Flavored Soft Chews Multivitamin for Dogs
    • Available in duck and bacon flavors
    • Provides joint and digestive support
    • Extra-strength soft chews contain 95% curcuminoids for joint pain relief, digestive and immune health
    • Features coconut oil for weight management, brain function, and energy levels
    • Also promotes liver and skin health
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Blue Buffalo Sizzlers with Real Pork Bacon-Style Dog Treats
  4. Blue Buffalo Sizzlers with Real Pork Bacon-Style Dog Treats
    • 100% pork is the first ingredient
    • No chicken or poultry by-product meals
    • Wheat-free
    • No artificial preservatives or colors
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. GENTLE GIANTS Real Beef & Bacon
  6. GENTLE GIANTS Real Beef & Bacon
    • Filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and supplements
    • Non-GMO, and no fillers, wheat, corn or soy
    • Made with farm-raised beef and bacon
    • Nutritious ingredients like pearled barley, brown rice and oatmeal round out the ingredients
    • Hearty ingredients keep dogs fuller for longer
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

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The Featured Image

A plate of bacon overflowing in a skillet
Bacon is not a healthy food for dogs.
© nelea33/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

After a career of working to provide opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I am enjoying having time to write about two of my favorite things - nature and animals. Half of my life is spent outdoors, usually with my husband and sweet little fourteen year old dog. We love to take walks by the lake and take photos of the animals we meet including: otters, ospreys, Canadian geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl, and listening to my son's music.

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