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Can Dogs Have Ham?

Can Dogs Have Ham?

It’s been a few days since Easter, and maybe you bought a huge ham that’s still sitting in the fridge. If you’re tired of leftover ham sandwiches and tempted to throw a few pieces to the dog, read on.

What’s In Ham That Can Hurt Dogs?

I’m all about fresh, raw or cooked meat for dogs, but ham is usually more than just pork.

Most ham – including deli ham, boneless, bone-in, and breakfast ham are all brined with lots of salt and sugar.

Many commercial dog foods and treats do contain some amount of salt and sugar. Salt can be used to supplement iodine, and sugar can be used for taste – dogs love sugar just like us.

Ham is also higher in fat than most cuts of meat, especially if you give your dog the fatty rind. It’s the fat that puts your dog at the most immediate risk.

Veterinarians typically see many cases of acute pancreatitis in dogs on and around holidays.

Acute pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas – happens when your dog is unable to metabolize an unusually high amount of fat. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea, and your dog may stretch out with her hindquarters in the air, like a play bow, to help reduce the pain and pressure in her abdomen.

Pancreatitis is an emergency, and in some cases it can be fatal.

How Much Ham Does It Take To Make Dogs Sick?

Fat, sugar, and salt are harmless to dogs in small amounts, and actually essential to their diet.


Dogs are so much smaller than us. It can be difficult for most people to offer an appropriately sized sample to their dog.

Also, keep in mind that if you have family members, especially children, there’s a strong chance that if you demonstrate that you’re giving the dog “just a bite,” your family members may think it’s okay to sneak even more bites behind your back.

Kids want the dog to like them. Even the most well-behaved kids will sneak food to make that happen.

A blanket ban on table food is safest when you’re setting an example for your family.

You can give your dog fresh “people food,” but it should be done meaningfully – not just as a way to discard fatty scraps.

What If I REALLY Want To Give My Dog Ham?

If you truly want to treat your dog to a small amount of ham, make sure it’s:

  • No more than a cubic inch (about the size of the tip of your thumb) per 5 pounds of dog.
  • Does not include any visible fat or the rind.
  • Does not have any sugary dressing or glaze on it.
  • Does not have any cloves on it.

To make a little ham go a long way in making your dog’s meal more appetizing, shred that tiny ration as finely as possible, add it to your dog’s kibble, and then mix it with warm or hot water. That way, the flavors will seep into every piece of food, and your dog won’t simply pick out the ham and leave the rest.

Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell, but their sense of taste is less powerful than ours. So, if you can make their whole bowl smell hammy, you can pique their appetite with a very tiny amount of ham.

Can I Feed My Dog Other Types Of Pork?

Pork is a great protein source for dogs.

Raw or cooked pork can be added to your dog’s kibble diet, or a part of their raw or cooked diet.

You can use lean ground pork or boneless pork chops (after cutting away the visible fat) in your dog’s meals.

You can also feed pork-based dog food made from commercial raw or cooked dog food companies.

Just steer away from cured or processed meats like pepperoni, bacon, or ham.

Can Dogs Eat Ham?

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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Jane Cowan

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

Lindsay, thanks for this piece. Great to see proper, commonsense and accurate information getting out there on this. Love that you made the point about pancreatitis and about dogs' sense of taste being nowhere near as refined as ours.

Valida Pets

Tuesday 14th of July 2020

Making sure everyone we share with knows our dog's feeding habits is a great way to make sure all they ingest is supervised as much as possible. A little patience at those tempting times can bring a happy tummy overall.

Cheri Janssen

Sunday 19th of April 2020

Hi Lindsay - really enjoyed this post! My dogs are always looking for special treats, too, although we give them sparingly. But puppy dog eyes are real! Liked the suggestion to add just a little to their meals to appeal more to their sense of smell. They already love salmon on their food, so I know they'll love ham.

Hope you, Cow, and Matilda are all doing well. Thanks again for the great article!

Lindsay Pevny

Monday 20th of April 2020

We love salmon over here too! Thanks for the well wishes, Cheri, I hope you and your family are doing well too.

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