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You’re slicing smoked ham to prepare a sandwich when your furry friend comes over.

You notice your dog is salivating at the sight and smell of the ham.

It’s only natural to wonder, what is the harm in sharing a piece or two of smoked ham with your pup?

So, can dogs eat smoked ham?

Dogs can’t eat smoked ham because it contains sodium nitrate, a preservative used to cure meats like ham, bacon, hot dogs, and lunchmeats.

Smoked ham also has high-fat content, which leads to pancreatitis in dogs.

This article will explore the dangers of feeding your dog smoked ham and offer healthier alternatives.

What ingredients in Smoked Ham is harmful to my dog?

Perhaps your dog has stolen a slice of ham off the counter or begged for a piece while you were eating.

While it may seem like a treat, feeding your dog smoked ham can have serious consequences.

This may be a result of teh following ingredients:

Sodium Nitrate 

Store-bought smoked ham contains sodium nitrate, a preservative used to keep the meat from spoiling.

Sodium nitrate is toxic to dogs and may cause many health problems.

Some of the symptoms of sodium nitrate poisoning in dogs include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

If your dog has consumed smoked ham, look for these symptoms and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Can Dogs Eat Smoked Ham

Fat Content 

Ham contains high levels of fat than most other meats.

When fed to dogs, it leads to a condition called pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is a severe inflammation of the pancreas that cause vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

In extreme cases, it can even be life-threatening.

Although dogs require some fat in their diet, it’s crucial to choose leaner meats and monitor how much fat your dog consumes.

The healthy amount of fat for dogs is between 5-8%. 

However, the fatty richness of ham is what gives it its flavor, meaning the fat content is usually much higher.

For example, some brands of smoked ham have a fat content of 27%, that’s more than three times the recommended amount of fat for dogs.


Although ham is a source of protein, it’s not the right kind of protein for dogs.

Compared to other meats, ham is very low in taurine, an amino acid essential for dogs.

Taurine plays a vital role in a dog’s health, including the proper function of its heart and muscles. 

Dogs develop heart problems, eye abnormalities, and reproductive issues without enough taurine.

Additionally, the protein in ham is also harder for dogs to digest, which leads to an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Can Dogs Eat Smoked Ham: Cooked or Raw?

While dogs can eat either cooked or raw ham, it’s generally better to eat raw meat.

Cooking meat decreases the nutrient content making it more difficult for dogs to digest.

However, smoked ham is an exception because of the sodium nitrate content.

When sodium nitrate is heated, it turns into a carcinogen called nitrosamines.

Nitrosamines are linked to cancer in both humans and animals.

Therefore, even if you cook the smoked ham before feeding it to your dog, it’s still not safe.

Cooked smoked ham bones are hazardous for dogs.

When the ham is cooked, the bones become brittle and can splinter easily.

If your dog swallows a piece of bone, it punctures the digestive tract or causes an obstruction.

Harmful Microorganisms in Raw Smoked Ham

Raw and undercooked ham contain harmful bacteria and parasites that cause food poisoning in dogs.

Some of the bacteria found in raw meat include:

  • Campylobacter
  • E. coli
  • Listeria
  • Salmonella

These bacteria cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain in dogs.

Raw ham poses the risk of worms; for instance, trichinella spiralis is a parasitic roundworm found in pork products.

If your dog ingests this parasite, it can cause serious health problems, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain and tenderness
  • Paralysis
  • Swelling of the face and eyelids
  • weakness
  • Vomiting

If you suspect your dog has trichinella spiralis, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment usually involves a course of antibiotics and anti-parasitic medication.

Alternatives to Smoked Ham for Dogs

If you’re looking for a safe, healthy alternative to smoked ham for your dog, there are plenty of options.

Some leaner meats that are safe for dogs include:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Cooked eggs
  • Plain yogurt
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Peanut butter

These alternatives aren’t only safe for dogs and provide the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

When feeding your dog any new food, always start with a small amount to see how they react before giving them more.

How Much Smoked Ham is Excessive for my Dog?

The amount of smoked ham to feed your dog depends on their weight and activity level.

For example, a 20-pound dog can have up to two ounces of meat per day, while a 50-pound dog can eat five ounces.

If your dog is very active, it may need more than the average amount of meat.

Ask the veterinarian how much-smoked ham is safe for your dog when in doubt.

However, an occasional treat of smoked ham isn’t going to kill your dog.

For instance, if your dog steals a slice of ham off your plate, it will not do any harm.

Remember, smoked ham isn’t recommended for dogs with heart or kidney disease because of the high sodium content.

If your dog has one of these conditions, avoid feeding them smoked ham altogether.

Can Dogs Eat Smoked Ham FAQs?

Can smoked ham kill my dog?

Smoked ham won’t kill your dog unless they eat a large amount of it.

However, it’s not good for them because of the high fat and salt content, resulting in health problems.

Can smoked ham give dogs diarrhea?

Ham is a fatty meat that can give dogs diarrhea.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog has eaten smoked ham and has loose stools.

Is smoked ham terrible for dogs with kidney disease?

Dogs with kidney disease shouldn’t eat smoked ham because it’s high in salt.

Salt is bad for dogs with kidney disease because it makes them retain water and swell up.

My dog ate smoked ham; what should I do?

If your dog has eaten a small amount of smoked ham, there’s no need to worry.

However, if your dog has eaten a lot of ham, contact your veterinarian.

They may want to induce vomiting or give them activated charcoal to prevent absorption.

Can dogs eat smoked ham fat or rind?

While it’s tempting to let your dog chew on the fatty rind of smoked ham, This isn’t a good idea.
Ham rinds are the fattest parts but are devoid of nutritional value.


Smoked ham isn’t the healthiest food for dogs, but it won’t kill them unless they eat a lot of it.

If your dog has eaten smoked ham, watch for signs of diarrhea or vomiting and contact your veterinarian if they occur.

There are plenty of healthy alternatives to feeding your dog smoked ham, such as lean meats, cooked eggs, plain yogurt, and vegetables.

When introducing any new food to your dog, always start with a small amount to see how they react.

Megan Turner

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