Can Dogs Eat Ham?

Dog looking at ham on cutting board

When dinner time comes around, many dog owners see their dogs staring up at them from afar longing for a bite or two of their human’s dinner. Some dogs don’t stare from far away, and instead sit under their owners, ready to catch any crumbs accidentally dropped from the table. Even though it can be downright adorable for the dog to beg at the dinner table, it can also be quite a nuisance. 

Bad manners aside, dogs begging at the dinner table can lead to poor health for them. Human foods can be dangerous for dogs, and while it’s rare, some foods can even be poisonous to our beloved pets. 

Many don’t think much about it when they toss their dog a scrap of food here and there, but it can be difficult to live so carefreely when you learn about how different foods affect your dog. 

If a big piece of chocolate cake is up for grabs, most dogs won’t hesitate to eat it. It’s somewhat common knowledge that chocolate is bad for dogs, but most pet owners don’t know that mint-flavored foods can be just as sickening, if not worse. 

There are many different foods dogs can benefit from; therefore, it’s helpful to find out which ones are good for your pets. It’s equally important for owners to know what human foods are poisonous to dogs so they can stay away from them and only give their dogs foods that are safe. 

Dog with head in food bowl

Is Ham Safe for Dogs to Ingest?

Ham is one of many types of meat dogs can eat, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always good for them. Many types of meat can be bad for animals (and people) if it isn’t cooked properly. This is why it can be hard to say ham is safe for dogs. If it’s prepared correctly, ham can be an excellent treat for your pet! 

If you’re comparing whether ham is safe to ingest next to something like chocolate, then yes, ham is safe. Chocolate is dangerous because dogs can’t properly metabolize its contents. While some dogs eat chocolate and get away with only a stomach ache, smaller dogs are less likely to have this outcome. Depending on a dog’s weight and the amount of chocolate they eat, determines how dangerous chocolate is to the dog. Here’s a simple guide to follow. Chocolate becomes a danger to dogs when 1.5 ounces is consumed for every 10 pounds of body weight. Another way to putting this is, if you have a 10-pound dog that eats a standard Hershey’s chocolate bar, which is 1.55 ounces on average, then you should be concerned. 

So why does chocolate matter when figuring out if your dog can eat ham? Because many dog owners are already aware of the negative effects chocolate can have on their furry friends.  

Chocolate = Poison = Bad

However, foods like ham get more complicated because dogs eat it all the time, but some veterinarians will still say it’s terrible for them. Still, it’s essential to distinguish it from really bad foods for dogs. For instance, it has the potential to be harmful to dogs but, it’s as bad in the same way chocolate is.

Ham can be a nutritious option for dogs.  Often the way humans prepare ham offers no dietary benefits to dogs. Here lies the reason many vets recommend not giving your dog ham. Unless it’s prepared in a way that is specific to benefit your dog’s dietary needs, refrain from throwing them a piece from your dinner plate.

Dog looking straight on

Does Ham Have Anything to Offer Dogs?

Dogs are omnivores, and meat is a crucial part of their diet. Without it, they lack the protein they need to thrive. Many dogs can and will happily eat ham regardless of how it’s prepared.  They don’t care, it taste good! Because ham is a protein, dogs can get some nutritious value from eating it; although many vets will argue that there are better options than ham to give to your dog for their daily protein. 

Many specialists disagree on how easy it is for dogs to digest ham. There are some who argue it’s easily digestible, while others claim quite the opposite. It can be hard to identify what foods are safe for dogs and even harder with complex foods, like ham. Sometimes ham can be great for the health of your dog, and sometimes it can harm them. It all depends on how the ham was prepared. 

For example, some types of ham have higher concentrations of fats and sodium. Owners shoul avoid giving their dogs treats that have a high in fat and sodium content.

If you’re at Thanksgiving dinner about to enjoy a slice of freshly baked honey ham, it might be tempting to throw your dog a piece, but experts say this type of ham is the issue

The issue when giving your dog ham is that the way people prepare it for themselves often involves adding a lot of sugar and sodium, two things that dogs should avoid. There are low-sodium hams on the market, and if prepared specifically for a dog, can be a great treat. When it comes to giving pets human food, most people do so out of convenience rather than purposely preparing human foods specifically for your dog to eat. It’s important to be mindful of this before giving your dog people food.

Man high fiving a dog

Health Benefits

Even though ham isn’t great for dogs in large quantities, it can provide plenty of amino acids and proteins. There aren’t many health benefits that ham offers dogs, but dogs like it anyways.

Ham may not have many health benefits for dogs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your dog a piece every now and then. It isn’t wrong to give your dog a treat that doesn’t have nutritional value, but it can be harmful if it’s done too often. 

Owners can feed their dog a special snack for deserving occasions. For example, if your dog hates the vet, you can throw them a small sliver of cooked ham every time they get home from their appointment. Giving your dog treats in this way may not benefit their health, but it can ease their mental health because they will begin associating the vet with a slice of ham. And ham tastes good to dogs, they like it, and it gives your pet something to look forward too.  

Some owners use this practice to help condition positive responses from their dogs. Dogs that undergo successful conditioning treatments with tasty treats generally won’t experience as much anxiety in certain situations. This technique can be used with a number of different tasty dog treats, so owners don’t always have to use the same treats. 

Dog owners should keep in mind that treats are only supposed to make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily total calories. Ham is very high in fat and sodium, so it doesn’t take much ham to replace your dog’s daily treat allowance. This is another reason many veterinarians recommend against giving your pet ham. 

There are many dog treats to choose from that offer health benefits, but don’t let this deter you from sharing a piece of ham with your pup. Instead, continue reading to discover the health risks ham can potentially cause your dog. Afterwards, you can decide if properly prepared ham is right for your pet.

Amino Acids and How They Impact Your Dog

As mentioned earlier, ham can offer your dog the health benefits of protein and amino acids. It can be easy to write-off the health benefits ham can provide in comparison to the risk factors associated with it.  When it comes to the health of your dog, it’s a good idea to learn more about the ways amino acids support your dog’s health.

Amino acids are essential in helping restore and build body tissue in your dog. It is especially noticeable when it comes to the health of your pet’s skin and fur. If your pet is injured or scratched, there are many things that come together to help them heal, but amino acids are a significant component. Amino acids also carry oxygen throughout the body and boost your dog’s muscle activity. These helpful proteins also boost your dog’s immune system. 

It can be easy to choose not to give your dog a ham snack because of the risks associated with it; however, it’s also important to be aware of the benefits it can provide. After all, if you give your pet properly prepared ham in moderation, it can greatly increase your dog’s physical and mental health. As mentioned earlier, in high-stress occasions, giving your dog a special treat can help decrease the anxiety they experience.  Ham may be a great choice in these situations.

Dog wearing a face mask

Health Risks Dogs Face After Ingesting Ham

While ham can be beneficial, there are plenty of other meat options that can provide more proteins and nutrients compared to ham. Ham often contains a lot of sodium and fats that are bad for dogs. In fact, in excessive amounts, ham can cause digestive issues, like vomiting and diarrhea. Also, because ham is a naturally sweet meat, when people cook it, they often add other seasonings and salt to make it taste better.

Even though adding these salts, spices, and seasons may make the ham taste better to us, these additions can make ham even more dangerous for dogs. Many ham products also contain a lot of added preservatives and nitrates. These can be very harmful to pets and can lead to excessive urination and thirst as well as lethargy. Sometimes, when dogs eat too much ham, they might develop an issue with abnormal fluid accumulation. 

The ham bone can also be very dangerous to your dog’s internal systems. Cooked bones can break up into fragments and cause damage to your dog’s internal organs, including their intestinal tract. Fatty meat and processed meat are bad enough. Adding in the risk factors a ham bone can cause can be enough to turn some people away from ever giving their pets ham.

The most severe issue ham can cause your dog is pancreatitis. After ingesting ham, dogs can develop a parasite that can lead to bodily infections. A parasite like this can infect your dog if they eat contaminated or undercooked ham. This product may also cause kidney damage. Some dogs have experienced comas, seizures, or death because of the large amounts of ham they ate. These dogs would have had to consume huge portions of ham in short periods of time.

Did you know, humans can have a heart attack from eating too many bananas? Even though bananas are good for you, eating too many can be bad. Potassium, one of the main benefits bananas provide, can cause a fatal condition called hyperkalemia. This is comparable to ham for dogs because the idea that bananas can kill a person is somewhat ridiculous. The amount of potassium a person would need to consume to have this fatal condition is so incredibly high that the average person would have to consume over 50 bananas in one day to even come close experiencing this danger.

Bananas in high quantities can kill humans, and ham in high quantities can kill dogs. It may seem highly treacherous, but almost anything can be dangerous in excessive amounts. Dogs may not know when to stop eating before they get sick, and that’s why it’s up to their owners to pay attention to the portions their dogs are eating. As long as you don’t give them an enormous amount of ham at one time, this food will cause very little damage, if any, to your dog. If there is anything you should be aware of, it’s the gas your dog might have after enjoying some ham. It may be bad.  

Women serving ham to dog

The Best Way to Serve Ham to Your dog

The best way to give your dog ham is in moderation. Do not feed your dog ham every single day. A small piece every now and then is much better for them. Owners should also make sure they give their dogs plenty of water to drink when ham if offered due to the excess amounts of salt ham contains.

Ham is not safe for dogs if it has excessive seasonings and sodium. Also, dogs should never eat ham that has not been fully cooked because it can cause parasites in their digestive system.

Dog owners should also know that giving their pets bones from a cooked ham can break and cause major internal health issues. 

The best way to serve your dog ham is by ensuring it is low in sodium and offered only in small portions. If you want to give them a few pieces of freshly prepared ham, be sure to cut it up into small, one-inches pieces.  Dogs that are offered small pieces of food are less likely to choke.

Alternative Protein Treats to Ham

You might be surprised to know that there are many healthy proteins you can feed your dog instead of ham. If you want to remove the risk of health issues contributed to your dog consuming ham, there are plenty of alternatives.  Some people are more cautious about these things, and that’s okay. 

Alternative protein choices you can feed your dog include: chicken, lean beef, salmon, sardines, turkey, eggs, and different types of fish. Some of these foods might have risk factors similar to those ham can cause.  For instance, sardines are notorious for being high in sodium, and a high sodium intake is bad for dogs. While some foods have drawbacks, there are plenty of other options that your dog will love to have as a special snack every now and then.

Person giving dog bowl of food


Often, many owners see their dogs giving them puppy dog eyes when they’re preparing food for themselves. Most dogs could be eating like four-legged kings and still want more. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to share your snacks with your dog. For example, bananas, blueberries, or peanut butter are great treats for your pets. However, things like ham should be offered to your pet with caution and in moderation.

Owners shouldn’t regularly feed their dog ham as a treat. Consuming too much ham can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Cooked ham bones, canned ham, and raw ham should be avoided when giving ham treats to your dog. Fatty meats like ham can cause your dog to suffer from an upset stomach. There are many options when it comes to tasty human foods with protein to give your dog, when ham isn’t worth the risk.

However, it is always up to you and you alone on what you feed your dog. It was mentioned earlier that humans eat plenty of foods that offer no nutritional value and often come with health risks. For instance, many people like soda but, it offers very little in nutritional value; however, many continue to enjoy one every once in a while.

When owners stay informed on the risks and rewards certain foods bring when it comes to feeding their dog, they make sure they are providing the best care possible for their furry friend.

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