Is Lunch Meat Bad For Dogs?

A sliver of lunch meat every once in a while is not bad for dogs. However, you should not feed your dog lunch meat daily due to the high amount of sodium. On average, lunch meat has 362mg of sodium per slice, far too much for dogs to consume every day. 

Dog’s can use all the protein they can get, right? Afterall, they descended from wolves, who hunt down their food. 

But just because a food has a lot of protein doesn’t mean it’s good for dogs. What you may think is a special treat for your dog could actually be harmful to their health. 

While your dog may appreciate you tossing them a slice of lunch meat, is it really the greatest thing for their health?

Issues With Feeding Your Dog Lunch Meat

It can seem harmless to slip your furry friend a piece of sandwich meat, especially if they are giving you the ‘puppy-eye treatment’. Before giving your dog that slice of meat, make sure you know the potential risks so you can make an informed decision!

Risk 1: Nitrates and Sodium

Lunch meat is often treated with many chemicals to increase shelf life. As humans, we may appreciate the fact that it will last longer in our fridge. But dogs do not digest these types of chemicals well. 

Lunch meats typically have high levels of nitrates or sodium. Both substances are not good for dogs to eat in large quantities. 

The large amounts of salt in lunch meats could cause mild to severe issues. Fluid accumulation, vomiting, diarrhea, thirst, and lethargy are all potential problems caused by too much salt in a dog’s diet.

Risk 2: Food Allergies

Aside from unnatural additives in lunch meat, there are other potential issues. Even if the meat is entirely untreated (it won’t be), your dog may be allergic to the meat itself. 

Many dogs are allergic to meats like beef, ham, or chicken. An allergic reaction can be scary and could send your best friend to the vet if you are not careful. Make sure your dog is not allergic to a food before you give them a large quantity. 

Risk 3: Fat Content

Lunch meat, especially ham, can have a high fat content. Humans love meat with fat as it adds an amazing flavor. We also want to keep our pups around for as long as possible, so anything that could make them overweight is not a great idea. 

But weight gain from too much fat is the least of your worries. Food with too much fat can also lead to pancreatitis and problems in their digestive tract. Skip the vet visit and don’t give your dog fatty meat.

Risk 4: Bad Habits

There are a lot of physical health issues that can arise from giving your dog lunch meat, but there is also the possibility of behavior problems. 

You might be tempted to hand your dog a bit of meat from your sandwich as you sit down for lunch. But by feeding your dog “human food”, you could be training your dog to beg or even steal food. Even if you give your dog the “sit” command before feeding them human food, they may still get in the habit of begging every time you sit down for a meal. 

Alternatives to Lunch Meat for Your Dog

As you can tell, lunch meat is not the best snack for your dog. There are a number of issues that can spring up from a diet of sandwich meat. 

The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives you can use to treat your dog, especially when you want to give them a little taste of what you are eating. These alternatives have minimal adverse effects. That being said, keep in mind that anything in excess is dangerous, so make sure that your pup only gets these foods in moderation.

Boiled Eggs

Just about all dogs LOVE eggs, and the best part is they’re high in protein and low in sodium (depending on how you prepare them). They are a great source of vitamins and are readily available at grocery stores for cheap. 

However, make sure the eggs are cooked before feeding them to your dog. If you feed your dog raw eggs, you’ll run the risk of salmonella poisoning. 

We recommend boiled eggs since they are simple to prepare and you won’t need salt, butter, or other ingredients that are not healthy for dogs.

Seedless Fruits

Fruits are like candy for dogs. Fruits contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients. The downside is that they don’t contain any protein. 

Some doggy favorites include slices of apple, banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pears. Before giving your dog a piece of fruit, make sure to remove all the seeds. Some fruit seeds contain small amounts of arsenic, a known poison. 

While it is not likely that a couple seeds will send your dog to the vet, there is no reason to risk it. Seeds can easily be removed, and it makes the snack much safer.

And don’t forget- never feed your dog grapes!

White Rice

You can’t go wrong with a serving of white rice! Rice will provide your dog with a full tummy of human food without causing discomfort. Rice even helps if your dog has an upset stomach. Of course, like everything else, serve the rice in moderation. 

This is a cheap yet filling food to give your dog. White rice does not have a high nutritional value, so cooking it in chicken broth is a great idea. Not only will it add nutrients, but it adds flavor and a little protein. 

Keep in mind that rice does not have enough nutritional value on its own to be an acceptable long-term meal for your dog.

Boiled Chicken

Another easy-to-make meal for your dog is simple boiled chicken. Do not add spices or sauce to the chicken, as these can irritate their digestive tract. 

Chicken is packed with protein and readily available. If you’re making chicken for the whole family, you can season the part your family will be eating and give the rest (the unseasoned part) to your dog. You can even make chicken stock from the bones to minimize waste.

The Bottom Line about Lunch Meat for Dogs

It is very tempting to slip your dog a sliver of lunch meat when making a sandwich, especially if they have perfected their begging technique. 

But as a dog owner, it is your responsibility to make sure your dog is living the best life they can; and part of that is making sure they are healthy. 

As a general rule, you should not give your dog lunch meat. While a sliver may be acceptable on occasion, lunch meat can contain a whole slew of chemicals and preservatives that will not sit well with your dog. 

The potential digestive problems can be costly, messy, or even deadly in worst-case scenarios. With so many alternatives to give your dog as a snack, there really is no reason to put lunch meat in their bowl. If you want to share a meal with your dog, rice, eggs, fruit, and chicken are all great choices. 

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