Can Dogs Eat Pork? What You Need to Know

If you have any questions around whether or not your dog can eat pork, you can find your answer here. We look into areas such as processed vs unprocessed pork, different types of pork, alternatives to pork and much more...

There are many delicious protein sources and meats out there which are certain to make a pup's mouth water. However, if there is one that seems to drive our canine friends wild with excitement, it's pork.

Pork is the term for meat that comes from a pig. Most of us assume that pork is just like any other meat, which is why the odd bit of bacon or sausage is often given to our pet as a little treat. 

But is this the case? Should dogs eat pork or will it have a negative effect on them? And what about dogs with sensitive stomachs - is pork safe for them? 

These are questions we will be covering in more detail in this article. Let’s dig in. 

Is pork bad for dogs?

As a protein source, pork is generally considered safe for dogs.

However, pork comes in all different forms, including bacon, ham, gammon and sausage. This makes it difficult to say a definite 'yes' or 'no' to whether pork is bad for dogs and whether dogs should eat pork.

Processed varieties of pork like bacon can contain high levels of salt and fat meaning they're not particularly healthy and are better left entirely off any doggy menu. In contrast, leaner cuts of pork, such as pork loin, are positively good for dogs and very nutritious.

In fact, feeding your dog the right cut of pork is a great way to help them reach the recommended amount of protein in their diet. 

Unlike their wolf ancestors, dogs are not carnivores but omnivores having evolved to digest both meat and starches. Despite these evolutionary changes, protein remain an absolutely essential part of their diet and plays a vital role in things like healthy bone formation and maintenance. Without enough protein, dogs can develop weak and brittle bones.  

Aside from stronger bones, some of the advantages of pork include:

  • It’s an easily digestible protein source.

  • It's a source of Omega 3, which is great for their skin and joint health. Heritage pork, in particular, is higher in Omega 3 by 18-43% to other sources of pork.

  • It has a good amino acid profile. Amino acids are essential for a dog's body to function properly.  

  • Pork organs, such as the liver and heart, provide essential vitamins and minerals. 
  • It's a source of Omega 3, which is great for their skin and joint health. Heritage pork, in particular, is higher in Omega 3 by 18-43% to other sources of pork.

  • It has a good amino acid profile. Amino acids are essential for a dog's body to function properly.  

  • Pork organs, such as the liver and heart, provide essential vitamins and minerals. 

There are different types of pork that we'll briefly look into:

  1. Pasture-raised pigs - These thrive on pasture and are also know as pastured pigs. They typically feed on roots, plants, bugs and nuts. These pigs are generally healthier and happier as their movement is not restricted. They are also known to be more flavourful. Pork from these pigs can also be referred to as heritage pork. 
  2. Factory Farmed Pigs - These pigs are mostly confined in pens. Their food typically depends on the farmers, but even if they are fed wholesome grains and vegetables, these pigs are vulnerable to illnesses. As such, they are often put on antibiotics and dewormers. 

Understanding where your pork comes from enables you to get the best quality if you do decide to incorporate pork into your dog’s diet. 

Pork is not necessarily bad for your dog. Instead, it's the the type of pork you feed your dog, how it is prepared, and where you've sourced it from that you need to be cautious of.

Now, let us look at some key considerations before feeding pork to your dog. 

Is uncooked pork bad for dogs?

Raw or undercooked pork is very dangerous for both you and your dog. You should not risk feeding your dog uncooked pork as it exposes him or her to parasites such as Trichinella. Trichinella is a parasite found in raw meat and especially pork. If your dog consumes raw pork and you notice symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stiffness
  • Fever
  • Signs of stomach pain

You should consider getting in touch with your vet as soon as you can to avoid further complications. 

You might be wondering about the pork in raw dog food. This kind of pork is safe for your dog as it has undergone extensive treatment such as freezing to ensure there is no risk of contamination or nasty parasites.

Processed pork for dogs

The smells of cooking bacon, ham, sausages might be exciting for your dog but you should be very wary of these processed forms of pork.

For one, these processed forms of pork are likely to contain ingredients that could lead to serious digestive issues, especially if they have a sensitive stomach. 

For another, some of these forms of pork might be toxic for your dog or even lead to long-term allergies or intolerances

Pork based meats such as bacon and ham are highly processed and even humans are advised to consume them in moderation. Your canine friend is likely to give you pleading eyes whenever you are sizzling up some bacon but try and avoid giving in.

As mouthwatering, flavourful and aromatic bacon or ham is, it still contains plenty of unhealthy fats and excess salt which will only do damage as your dog’s stomach struggles to digest it. 

The excess fats could also lead to health conditions such as heart disease or dog pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a condition where digestive enzymes in the pancreas are activated too soon leading to ‘self-digestion’ of the pancreas.

If you don't want to avoid processed pork altogether and do decide to spoil your furry friend with the occasional sliver of sausage, practice a high level of moderation.

If your dog has health problems, issues with fatty foods, or a sensitive digestive system, however, do not attempt to feed him or her these forms of processed food.

 

Can dogs eat pork bones?

Before you throw your dog a (pork) bone, it is important to know that pork bones are very brittle when cooked and they can easily break or splinter. They therefore pose a choking hazard and can cause tears in your dog’s gut if swallowed.

Instead of a pork bone, if your dog really needs a good chew consider getting them a dog toy such as hemp rope instead. Hemp rope is a much safe and more durable - while still eco-friendly - option. 

 

Are there alternatives to pork?

As most pet parents feed their dogs beef and chicken, pork is considered a "novel protein". As the name suggests, a novel protein is a protein your dog does not usually eat making it less likely to cause adverse reactions.  

This may make pork a good option for dogs with certain protein allergies - although, if your dog does have allergies, it's best to consult your vet before making changes to their diet.

Not keen to feed your dog pork? The closest alternative to pork is wild boar.

Like pork, wild boar is also a novel protein source making it one of the best options for dogs with allergies or intolerances.

Wild boar has the advantage over pork in that it is a considerably leaner meat (wild boar moves around a lot more). When served alone as a single source of protein it's also very easy for dogs to digest.

Unlike most pigs, wild boar is allowed to roam free and forage for grass, roots and seeds. As such, there are no processed farm feeds involved in the raising of boar, eliminating the need for antibiotics/treatments.

At Beco, we are big on treating your dog well while simultaneously loving the planet, which is why we use wild boar in some of our products. 

Not only does wild boar have the health benefits listed above, its foraged diet means it has a low impact on the environment. This makes it both a healthy and eco-friendly alternative to more traditional animal food sources.

How should I prepare pork for my dog?

Still want to try feeding your dog pork? The first step is to make sure that your vet approves and your dog hasn’t got a history of pork sensitivity (more on this in a bit). 

Next, as we established earlier, heritage pork from pastured pigs has more nutritional value. So, opt for this if you can. Also choose lean cuts of pork with no bones and strip away most of the fat. Although it might seem unpalatable to us humans, some part of the pig your furry friend might enjoy are the (nutrient-dense) heart, liver, tongue and trachea.

Finally, take care when preparing the pork. The pork should be very simple, so refrain from seasoning the meat with condiments or spices. Avoid vegetables such as onions or garlic as well since they can be toxic to your dog.

 

Can dogs with a sensitive stomach eat pork?

Pork can be suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs, but it all depends on the leanness of the cuts.

Opt for lean cuts of pork as high fat and a sensitive stomach might not be a good mix. Processed pork such as bacon or ham is definite "No!" for dogs with this condition. That's because these processed forms of pork contain high fat, salt and other ingredients which might not be the best for your dog with a sensitive stomach. 

If you are cooking pork for a canine with a sensitive stomach, it is extremely important to ensure that on top of the meat being lean, it should have no additives, extra ingredients or condiments. You might find it bland but best believe your dog will happily gobble the meal up without the risk of an agitated stomach.

Finally, be sure to consult your vet before feeding pork to your dog with a sensitive stomach.

Should dogs eat pork? The final word

Still wondering, 'Should dogs eat pork?' then here are our final word on the subject.

Not all pork is created equal: pork products, while tasty, are not the same as healthier cuts of meat. Unlike processed pork, lean cuts of pork offer nutritional advantages to both humans and dogs alike, and can be part of a nutritionally balance diet for both.

If you are preparing pork for your dog at home, it's important to remember to keep it simple, plain, and avoid potentially dangerous additions.

For the most part, avoid feeding your dog processed pork. Even if their mouth waters at the smell of cooking bacon and sausages, as a dog owner know that you are doing the best for your pup: excessive salt and fat is not good for your dog's digestive system or their overall health.

You should also resist giving your dog pork bones as a chew toy: cooked pork bones break easily and can pose a choking hazard. 

For those wanting an alternative to pork, remember wild boar is a great choice. It is just as flavourful as pork but is a novel protein (making it less likely to lead to allergies), is lower in fat, cholesterol, and  is better for the environment.