There are probably some places where if you simply whisper the word “bacon,” dogs will appear from all over the neighborhood. That is, if they haven’t smelled the aroma of the bacon first. Can dogs eat bacon? Yes. Should they eat bacon? Bacon is high in salt and fat. This is another food that has some pros and cons when it comes to sharing it with your dog.
Bacon is a salt-cured pork. If there are two things almost guaranteed to appeal to the human taste buds, it seems to be salt and fat. Bacon has lots of both. Add in the smokey scent during cooking and it can be darn near irresistible.
Bacon is made up of 31 percent protein, 1 percent carbohydrates, and 68 percent fats. It’s a good source of protein, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium.
On the down side, bacon is high in saturated fat and sodium.
One pan-fried slice of bacon (8 grams) has 41.3 calories, 3 grams of protein and 3.1 grams of fat.
Just one slice of bacon contains 188 mg of sodium.
One reason that bacon is so high in sodium is because it’s a cured, processed meat. The pork is soaked in a solution of salt, nitrates, and sometimes sugar. It’s often smoked afterwards. Curing and smoking bacon are ways to preserve it and prevent bacteria from growing. It has a much longer shelf life than fresh pork and other kinds of meat. The curing process also gives bacon its customary flavor.
However, curing methods and the ingredients used can vary from one manufacturer to another so there can be differences in bacon.
Eating foods high in salt has been associated with higher blood pressure and an increased risk of stomach cancer.
Bacon is high in fat. These fats include about 50 percent monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid. This is the same fatty acid family as olive oil. It’s considered to be “heart healthy.”
The other fat in bacon is about 40 percent unsaturated and 10 percent polyunsaturated, as well as some cholesterol. Some health professionals are concerned about the effects of unsaturated fats on the body. They believe they may be a cause of heart disease.
The nitrates and nitrites used in curing bacon can also form substances called nitrosamines when foods are cooked at high temperatures. Nitrosamines are known carcinogens. However, vitamin C and erythorbic acid are now added by manufacturers during the curing process for bacon. These ingredients reduce the nitrosamine content in bacon.
Processed meats, in general, have been associated with many kinds of cancer in the past such as colon, breast, liver, and lung cancers. Heart disease and diabetes have also been associated with processed meats. It’s unclear is these links between bacon and diseases are due to lifestyle or ingredients in the food.
The bottom line about bacon’s nutrition seems to be that it does offer some good nutrition, especially protein, but it’s best if it is consumed in small amounts.
Should Dogs Have Bacon?
Most people have a hard time resisting bacon. According to some popular news stories, even vegans and vegetarians have admitted that they have lapsed when it comes to bacon. You really can’t blame your meat-loving dog for wanting some of your bacon.
Some sources say that you should shun giving your dog any bacon at all, citing concerns about sodium and fat. It’s true that the sodium content of most bacon is very high. One strip of bacon contains 188 mg of sodium. A 30-pound dog needs just 100 mg of sodium in his diet in a single day which he gets from his dog food. Eating bacon will certainly put him over the amount of sodium he needs per day. Too much salt/sodium in your dog’s diet can put your dog at risk for salt poisoning (hyponatremia).
Signs of salt poisoning in dogs can be seen in these symptoms:
In addition, bacon is high in fat. Bacon is about 68 percent fat. Eating a lot of fatty foods can lead to gastrointestinal problems for dogs such as pancreatitis – an inflammation in the pancreas that can result in abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and vomiting.
If you suspect that your dog is ill for any reason, including salt poisoning or an attack of pancreatitis, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Despite these dire warnings, most experts agree that dogs can have small amounts of bacon as an occasional treat. You should make sure that the bacon is cooked thoroughly without being overcooked or burned.
If your dog happens to steal a package of uncooked bacon in the kitchen or eats all of your cooked bacon from the table, call your veterinarian. If you act quickly, your vet can probably make your dog disgorge the food before it is digested.
How Much Bacon Can You Give Your Dog?
Since bacon is so high in salt and fat, you need to limit how much you give your dog. Experts suggest no more than one-half strip of bacon for a small dog; and no more than one strip of bacon for a large dog.
Your dog probably won’t agree with these recommendations.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Bacon?
You need to consider bacon a special treat for your dog. Don’t give it to your dog very often. Once a week would be sufficient. If you feel guilty, remember the huge salt load in bacon.
There are lots of bacon-flavored dog treats and chews you can give your dog as a substitute for real bacon. They may not be quite as good as the real thing but they are probably healthier.
It’s no secret that dogs love bacon. Despite its delicious flavor, bacon is not the safest food for dogs. You can let your dog have a small amount of bacon occasionally, as a special treat. Giving your dog bacon in large amounts or letting your dog have bacon frequently can lead to problems.