Can Dogs Eat Ham? Is It Bad For Dogs? I’ve got the Answer for You!

The question is quite obvious and very repetitive in the dog owner circles - can dogs eat ham? Let's answer it once and for all! 

Some people tend to treat their dogs as garbage disposal units, and sometimes their stomach can become more sensitive than before.

What do I mean by this?

Well, people sometimes tend to give their dogs anything that’s left after a meal. 

You may think: They’re intrepid little omnivores, after all, and seem to enjoy eating almost anything. 

While this is true, and most of our canine companions act hungry all the time, it may be the time for you to rethink that position and ask yourself:  “Am I doing any harm to my dog?”.

The fact that cannot be ignored is that people must be conscientious about human food that they give their dogs, or it can cause some serious consequences for your pet’s health.

One of the foods that people often share with their dogs is ham. So, in addition to the previous question, you may add:  “Is ham bad for dogs?”.

Last Updated: August 6th 2020

can dogs eat ham? Monica answers!

In Short - Can Dogs Eat Ham?

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a short answer: No.

Don’t do it. Seriously, please DO NOT feed your dog ham - not even a slice.

Ham and any other kind of processed meat are simply terrible for your dog. Apart from the short-term complications like tummy aches, you’ll find that it can eventually harm your dog’s health quite a bit.

It’s terrible for them, and long-term complications aside, it’s borderline toxic to your little furred friend.

For starters, let’s go over all of the things that can happen in your dog eats ham, and later I’ll explain the reasons behind it.

What are the Long-term Consequences of Giving Ham to Your Dog?

  • It can lead to kidney damage

  • Your dog can experience seizures later on

  • Lethargy may occur, or even hypothyroidism

  • In severe cases (the very high intake of ham), it can lead to coma or even death

  • It can lead to pancreatitis

  • You dog can become overweight, which brings about a lot of other problems

What are the Short-term Consequences of Giving Ham to Your Dog?

  • Your dog can vomit

  • There will be a stomachache in 99% of the cases (even though you may not notice it)

  • Excessive thirst

  • Frequent urination (this can also prolong if the kidneys become infected)

  • Diarrhea

Here Comes The Science Behind
Why Ham is Bad For Dogs

the science behind why ham is bad for dogs

Your little pal is happy you’re reading this!

Of course, the prohibition on ham isn’t a religious thing, or a whimsical rule - it comes from some very well established scientific grounds. 

All these consequences that I mentioned stem from more or less similar facts about ham that cannot be ignored.

We may have overstated the danger a bit above - a couple of bites won’t harm your canine immediately, but it got your attention, didn’t it?

That aside, our advice is still the same: steer clear of giving your dog ham. But again, don’t be extremely worried if your dog’s eaten it before, or has stolen a piece from you. Just make sure to stop it.

Why is Ham Bad for Your Dog?

Why is ham bad for your dog? Monica Answers!

#1 It is rather processed. 

While ham is not as done up as lunch meats, it’s definitely altered hugely from just being part of the pork. This is done through a brining process, which adds a bunch of salt, or the so-called “curing injections” to the pork and renders it so delicious as an end product. To humans, anyways. 

Dogs don’t have self-control we do, and they also generally aren’t as used to salty and processed food as us.

Even for us, processed food is unhealthy - so you can only imagine how it affects your little friend.

#2 It causes them to drink too much water.

This can cause them to drink too much water to make up for the dry mouth the ham has caused them.

When dogs drink an excessive amount of water, a bloated condition arises, which can actually be somewhat dangerous in and of itself.

#3 Excessive intake of salt is dangerous for dogs.

Even if they don’t overdrink water, excessive intake of salt is a much more precarious situation for dogs than for us.

They need to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes in their system, and the large amounts of sodium in ham just aren’t going to do anything good for them.

#4 It has an unhealthy amount of fat.

In addition to all of that, you’ll find that ham is quite high in fat, more than many other types of meat. 

While it’s not overly harmful to humans, dogs simply don’t need as much of it as we do. You might find your dog gaining weight quite quickly if their fat intake goes up too much, and an obese dog certainly isn’t a healthy one.

Dogs are also prone to pancreatitis when their fat intake gets too high. This is a painful condition and expensive to treat at best, and it runs the risk of being fatal. 

Those begging eyes seem to be losing their allure, don’t they?

# 5 It is hard to digest.

Some people may think “it is a protein, after all” - my dog loves and needs protein.

However, the evidence suggests that this protein is fairly hard for your animal to digest, which can cause stomach aches and other minor problems in the short term.

So… stick clear of feeding your dog ham.

But, They’re Begging…

Oh, just look at those teary eyes!

I think that the consequences I just noted were clear enough.

Now you know what complications for your dog ham can cause, and why is that so.

You just need to remind yourself of those reasons the next time you’re making yourself a ham sandwich, and your pet is drooling right next to your leg.

It is easier to ignore those big, begging eyes once you know what’s the harm behind giving them a slice - so steel yourself and don’t give it over.

They can immediately become sick, and your meal can turn into a visit to the vet.

In the long term, the outlook is even bleaker, so don’t feed your dog ham even if they do the cutest dance in the world while they’re begging.

You’re the one in charge, so take an interest in their health.​​​​​ They are too hungry to do it themselves!

But seriously, it’s the least you can do for your best friend.

What Else To Avoid (or Not)?

is ham bad for dogs - what do avoid

This plate might be your dog’s worst enemy.

For the same reasons we don’t feed our dogs ham, there are several other processed foods that you’ll want to avoid feeding your dog.

Bacon is chief among them, another “natural” meat that is highly processed, despite its ancient origins. This will include all the various older varieties of processed pork as well, including prosciutto and others.

So - any sausages, salami,  beef jerky, canned meat, etc., is a big no-no.

You’ll also want to avoid feeding them any kind of lunch meat, even stuff that would typically be quite safe, like chicken and turkey. They all have salt added to them, and, as we’ve seen above, that’s really not a good thing for your dog.

Other kinds of food, such as green potatoes, bread, pastry, chocolate, etc., are also forbidden - but today, my focus was on meat. Let me know, though, if you want me to write more about your dog’s diet!

It’s really safest to stick with high-quality dog food, but you can occasionally feed your dog unprocessed meats of most types.

What you should give your dog - from another angle:

Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones?

While on the topic, I wanted to address another burning question: Can dogs eat ham bones, or, even worse, can dogs eat cooked ham bones?

The stance that dogs should eat ham bones is yet another misconception in the feeding guidelines for dogs. 

It’s not just your fault - almost everywhere, dogs are depicted eating bones, and it’s pretty much a widespread stereotype.

 However, this is also incredibly dangerous for a variety of reasons. 

Cooked ham bones are generally more dangerous for your doggo.

Why is that so?

Well, cooked ham bones are soft and can easily break while your dog is chewing on them. Such bone fragments can cause breathing issues, choking, and injuries of the internal organs.

I often hear people say “Monica, don’t exaggerate! You can let your dog eat cooked ham bones if it’s under supervision.” But I say to them: “Can you control what happens with the small pieces once they swallow them?”

The answer is, of course, no. So, I’m repeating, dogs cannot eat cooked ham bones.

As for the raw ham bones, I like to say that there are some safety guidelines you have to follow if you want to give them to your dog to chew:

  • Always watch your pet while it is chewing a raw bone
  • Do not give them easily breakable ham bones, as your dog can swallow a chunk, and that can lead to dire consequences
  • Don’t let them chew on the bone longer than 10 minutes at a time
  • Do not reuse the bones

Again, there are some potential risks with the raw bones. For instance, they can cause some dental issues or bumps and lumps in your dog’s mouth.

It’s on you to decide whether giving a raw ham bone to your dog is worth the risks, but, please, don’t give them a cooked ham bone under any circumstances!

What About Pork?

Pork in and of itself is sometimes considered “unclean” meat because it quite often has parasites.

Debate abounds about the nutritional quality of pork as well, but for the most part, unprocessed pork is generally regarded as safe and quite tasty. Provided it’s cooked well, you’re probably okay with tossing your dog a chunk of the pork chop.

Pork is still a bit chancy no matter what, and opinions vary, but the consequences of choosing to do this will be far less than if you were to go with ham.

Can Dogs Eat Ham - Conclusion

I hope that I’ve convinced you not to make this common error.

If anyone asks you in the future “Can Dogs Eat Ham?" or "Is Ham Bad For Dogs?”, you’re now armed with an informed answer. Or, just point them to this article. ????

Knowing is half the battle, and just by asking this question, you may have saved your dog from some severe health issues in the future.

If you came here because you wondered whether your dog might suffer after eating ham, consult your vet immediately.

Your little pal will be grateful that you’ve read this!

Test yours and your pets  intolerance and allergy levels!

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Dog Allergy Test

Human Allergy Test

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If by any chance you have some questions or would love to add something to this guide, please leave a comment! 

I'm a devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time deputy pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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