Can Dogs Eat Ham?

gray cat and black and white dog
By Pet Expert Team
Updated: 7/11/20242-4 minutes
brown dog looking on as owner prepares ham on counter

If dogs eat meat, is ham good for dogs? Ham can be a nutrient-rich meat for humans, but that doesn’t mean the same goes for your canine friend.

Our experts explore whether dogs can eat ham and explain why it may not be the best option for your canine friend. We'll discuss whether several types of ham and ham products are safe for a dog to eat and unpack whether there are any health benefits or more risks to feeding ham to your pup.

So, Can Dogs Eat Ham?

Is ham safe for dogs? Can dogs have ham? Technically, yes, they can. Ham is okay for dogs to consume in small quantities (if they are in good health, without any underlying medical concerns), but that doesn’t mean that they should, or that ham for dogs makes a healthy meal.

Are Dogs Allergic to Ham?

Whether or not ham triggers allergies depends on the dog. Ultimately, it’s best to consult your veterinarian if your dog has consumed ham to ensure they aren’t dealing with any underlying health conditions or consequences from eating ham that have yet to show.

Ham Nutrients Are Harmful to Dog Health

Dog food has the ingredients needed to meet dogs’ nutritional needs. Feeding your dog ham would be a treat rather than a meal, or, more accurately, it’s junk food. Ham contains nutrients that can be highly harmful to canine health, including: 

  • High-fat content 
  • High-sugar content 
  • High-sodium content

Here are some of the potential risks associated with feeding ham to your dog: 

  • Stomachache: The high-fat content found in ham may cause your dog to get an upset tummy. Some signs of canine stomachache from consuming ham may include: 
  • Pancreatitis: High consumption of fat in dogs over time can cause pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition of the pancreas, just like in humans. 
  • Intestinal blockage: Ham bones can easily break apart and cause internal damage. 
  • Deadly bacterial infection: Raw or undercooked ham may contain life-threatening bacteria. 
  • Toxic sodium consumption: Ham tends to be high in sodium. Toxic side effects of excessive sodium consumption in dogs can include symptoms ranging from minor to fatal, including but not limited to: 
    • Abnormal fluid accumulation 
    • Diarrhea and vomiting 
    • Lethargy 
    • Excessive urination and thirst 
    • Obesity 
    • Seizures 
    • Coma

Feed Your Dog Right: Holidays Are No Exception

We may ask ourselves, Are dogs allowed to eat ham? or Is ham bad for dogs?

We might ask ourselves again, Are we sure it’s bad?

These are such oft-asked questions for dog owners, especially during holidays such as Christmas or Easter.

We may want to indulge in less healthy eating and drinking than usual, and we consider it okay for our canine friends to join in on the festivities. The thing is, we shouldn’t.

Can Dogs Eat Thanksgiving Ham? Can Dogs Eat Easter Ham?

It’s not a good idea to feed your dog too much ham, if at all, even in the most joyful holiday seasons, when your dog may be happily socializing with family and friends. They might be begging for scraps around the Thanksgiving table, excited to eat Christmas gift dog treats, or licking their chops over glazed ham on Easter. Still, it’s essential to be cautious around ham during the holiday season or any time, reserving no more than a small amount for your pup to consume.

So, can dogs eat honey ham this upcoming holiday season, even if it might be your or your family’s beloved recipe? No, they shouldn’t. Healthy alternatives do exist. A great healthy holiday alternative to homestyle ham for your pup is the Beggin' Limited Edition Homestyle Honey 'n Ham Dog Treats.

But what if you’re reading this asking yourself, My dog ate ham, so what do I do now? 

Let’s look at some of the different types of ham, ham parts and ham products, and what to do if your dog eats ham of those varieties.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Ham?

A dog may be able to eat cooked ham but most likely shouldn’t, at least for the reasons mentioned above.

One point to consider with cooked ham is its preparation. Your dog must avoid it if prepared with ingredients it cannot digest. For example, dogs cannot eat onions, so they shouldn't eat ham prepared with onions. N-propyl disulfide is the main toxin in onions, damaging a dog's red blood cells and leading to hemolytic anemia.

Can dogs eat smoked ham? It also depends on its preparation. If it's glazed, that could be too much sugar for your dog to consume.

Can dogs eat ham hocks? Most likely not, because they are typically seasoned and cured with too much salt.

Since ham can be cooked in a wide variety of ways, with different rubs, spices, marinades, sauces and more, some other ingredients to think about that may be poisonous to dogs include: 

Can Dogs Eat Raw Ham?

No, dogs should not eat raw ham. As mentioned above, raw ham may contain harmful bacteria and has poor nutritional benefits for your pup.

Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones?

Are ham bones safe for dogs? No, even with a cooked bone.

If your dog ate a ham bone, some of the damage could include but would not be limited to: 

  • An obstruction if your dog breaks off a piece of bone while chewing it
  • Broken teeth from possibly attempting to chew through the bone

While raw ham bones may contain life-threatening bacteria for your dog, cooked ham bones may be soft enough to break if most any breed of dog were to bite into it. The bone could break in shards and puncture your dog, possibly causing dental problems and disrupting their digestive system, including intestinal blockage, intestinal perforation, or a choking hazard.

Your Dog Ate a Ham Bone: Call Your Vet

Contact your veterinarian as soon as your dog eats a ham bone. Your dog might have consumed some splintered bone that could cause intestinal blockage or perforation and the signs (lethargy, vomiting and constipation, for example) might not be showing yet. If intestinal blockage or perforation happens, your dog will need emergency surgery.

The good news is that there are dog-safe, well-loved alternatives to ham bones, such as Busy Bone Dog Treats, which come in a variety of flavors and are healthy for dogs of all sizes.

Can Dogs Eat Bacon and Ham Deli Meat?

Are you wondering, Can dogs eat ham slices?

Due to their higher sodium and fat content, bacon and ham deli meat aren't for dogs. Processed ham deli meat, for example, also contains harmful preservatives and, possibly, a high amount of sugar if it's glazed.

Sodium in Ham and Dog Food

The preservatives used in store-bought ham deli meat contain nitrites and nitrates, possibly toxic for dogs. These are sodium-based and can be lethal. Sodium can also cause dehydration, hypertension, heart disease, kidney damage, and more. If you sneak ham deli meat or bacon for your dog, ensure it has a low-in-sodium label. 

Sugar in Ham and Dog Food

Glazed or candied ham or bacon can contain large amounts of sugar, more than your dog can digest, which can lead to canine obesity. Your dog should avoid consuming this type of ham.

Fat in Ham and Dog Food

Bacon is the fattiest type of ham. A high-fat diet in dogs can have long-term effects, including painful pancreatic inflammation and digestion problems. Minimal amounts of bacon from time to time are OK for your dog to consume. And, if you want to share a little uncured ham, it would be best to have the fat trimmed off.

Vets refer to the holiday season as “pancreatitis season,” says Purina pet expert Karie Johnson, DVM.

“We call the holiday season ‘pancreatitis season’ because people give their dogs fatty foods in large quantities that their bodies aren't used to,” explains Johnson. 

Processed Ham and Bacon Substitutes for Dogs

Several healthy alternative treats and meals are available for your dog to enjoy just as much, if not more than processed ham and bacon. Made with natural pork but containing only the nutrients that are good for your dog, your dog will enjoy these options.

For a bacon-infused meal, try the Moist & Meaty Rise & Shine Awaken Bacon & Egg Flavor Soft Dog Food, and for a snack, try Beggin’ Dog Treats.

How Much Ham Can Dogs Eat?

The amount of ham a dog can eat varies depending on the dog’s age, breed and size. Small dogs, for example, are more prone to pancreatitis.

If you’re wondering, Can puppies eat ham? The answer is more likely to be “no” because their needs are more fragile and specific. 

It's best to consult your veterinarian for your dog's nutritional needs. Ultimately, it’s best to play it safe and get dog food and treats specially formulated for your dog.

For more expert tips on dog feeding, explore our other What Can Dogs Eat articles. 

 

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