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December 14, 2020 4 min read

Carnitas. Baby back ribs. Pulled pork. Pork chops. Bacon. Honey ham. 

Is your mouth watering? Mine is. Who doesn't love delicious pork (outside of vegetarians and vegans, that is)? It's a great meat that comes in a variety of cuts with different flavors, textures and price points. Whether you're looking to make a quick pork chop for dinner or roast a whole pig, there's some pork out there for you.

But if you've ever picked up a piece of bacon while eating breakfast, you've likely sensed some interest from any furry friends in your vicinity. So let's answer the question you were probably asking - can dogs eat pork?

CAN DOGS EAT PORK?

As you almost certainly know, pork is a pretty broad topic comprised of a whole lot of different cuts of meat, and for that reason it's more complex than a simple yes or no. That said, pork isn't toxic or dangerous, so dogs definitely can eat it. What you should understand and look out for is the nutritional value of any pork that you're giving to your dog.

If you want to be extra safe, there are plenty of pork treats out there designed specifically for dogs. That's not to say that a little bit of homemade pork isn't okay, but as you'll see here, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when it comes to giving your dog pork, and you can avoid all of those questions if you get something specifically made for dogs.

If you are going to offer your dog up some meat off your plate, though, you'll want to look for the right kinds to make sure you avoid stomach issues or any other problems for your pup. Both the cut of pork in question along with the way that it's prepared can lead to big differences in terms of healthiness and nutrition, so let's go a bit deeper.

IS PORK GOOD FOR DOGS?

We're big believers here at Cooper's Treats that all dogs should eat meat (that's why all of our products contain it). So yes, pork absolutely has the potential to be good for dogs - as with all meats, it's packed with protein, which is critical for your dog. Pork can not only make for a great snack, it can also be an excellent part of your dog's regular diet. 

Of course, when you think of pork you may think of cuts like bacon, which are delicious because they're particularly fatty, and fat is very flavorful. When you're considering whether your dog can have pork, we recommend that you lean towards leaner cuts such as pork loin and away from fattier ones like pork belly. Dogs should have a diet relatively low in fat, or they can run into health problems.

can dogs eat pork

RISKS OF GIVING PORK TO DOGS

Feeding your dog fattier cuts of pork can lead to weight loss and other problematic health conditions. Beyond that, you'll definitely want to stay away from any processed pork meats - we mentioned bacon above, which is a no-no, and similarly you should stay away from pork sausage. These have very poor nutritional profiles - in addition to being very fatty, they typically have an extremely high salt content, which will not go over well with your dog's stomach. Large amounts can cause pancreatitis, which is extremely dangerous. Ham falls under this category as well, so stay away from that.

Now that we know you should stick to less-fatty, unprocessed cuts of meat, the second thing to consider is preparation. Unfortunately, your delicious, slow-cooked pulled pork is too going to be too heavily seasoned and mixed with other unhealthy things to be suitable for dogs. When giving your dog pork, keep it plain - dogs love meat, and they don't need herbs, spices or anything else to flavor it up. Any method of cooking it, from boiling, to pan-frying, to oven-roasting is fine as long as you do it without things like salt and oil.

While some meats can be safely fed to dogs raw, pork isn't one of them. Because it can contain a parasite that causes trichinosis, it needs to be cooked before it can be safely eaten (by dogs or people). The best way to ensure you've cooked it all the way through is to use an instant-read meat thermometer going into the middle of the thickest part of the piece of meat - according to FDA guidance, it should read 145 degrees in order for you to be sure that everything is safe.

And last but not least, if you're wondering whether you can give your dog pork bones, the answer is definitely not if they've been cooked. Any time bones are cooked, they are weakened, which means they can splinter. A splinter in your dog's throat or digestive tract can be incredibly dangerous and require expensive surgery. Uncooked bones are much less likely to splinter, but many vets nonetheless recommend against them in favor of specially-made dental chews that have no risk of splintering. Nylabones make a great option that last a long time and are completely safe for your dog.

SO CAN DOGS EAT PORK?

The good news is that dogs can most definitely have pork. The key is to pick the right cuts, which are those low in fat, and to stay away from processed meats. You also want to hold off on the sauce - your dog is going to love pork even without barbeque sauce. Make sure whatever type of pork your pick is cooked plain, and avoid giving your dog bones.

If you want to be extra safe, pick out pork treats that are made specifically for dogs. Plain, freeze-dried meats (like the ones we use in our Pupsicle Mix and Baked Biscuit Mix) are ideal both because they're free of additives and because the fact that they're freeze-dried means they'll last a very long time without you having to worry about spoilage. 

Keep those things in mind, and you can safely give your dog delicious, delicious pork!