Chorizo is a kind of pork sausage originating from the Iberian peninsula. Many people in the United States know chorizo because it’s found in Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban cuisine. A version of chorizo is even used in Creole and Cajun cooking. Are you thinking of sharing some of your food with your dog and wondered, can dogs eat chorizo? Learn more about this tasty sausage below.
Chorizo varies depending on where it’s from and how it’s made. In Europe, it’s usually pork that is fermented, cured, and smoked. It can be eaten without any further cooking. In other places, chorizo may not be fermented or cured so it has to be cooked. There are differences between the chorizo in Spain and the chourico in Portugal but both are made with dried, smoked, red peppers. There are hundreds of varieties of chorizo in Spain. Portuguese versions tend to be a little hotter. Paprika, garlic, salt, wine, and hot pepper are common ingredients.
In Mexico, chorizo are usually the uncooked version. (Remember that pork always has to be thoroughly cooked if it’s not cured/smoked. Otherwise, trichinosis and food-borne illnesses are potential problems.) They are not just made from fatty pork but can also use beef, venison, chicken, and turkey. There are even versions made with tofu, kosher versions, and vegan chorizo. Mexican chorizo is usually made with local chili peppers so it’s spicier than the Iberian varieties. Instead of using white wine, as is done in Spain, the Mexican version adds vinegar.
Chorizo is used to make tacos, burritos, tortas, and it’s even used as a pizza topping. Chorizo con huevos (with eggs) is a popular breakfast dish in some areas.
Some of the Mexican chorizo have tomatillo, cilantro, chili peppers, and garlic added. Chili powder may also be added. Depending on where you buy the chorizo, they can be extremely hot and spicy.
Chorizo is also sold in grocery stores in areas where they are popular.
Nutritionally, chorizo is a good source of protein but it is high in saturated fat and sodium. Looking at a typical chorizo available in the United States that is made of pork and beef, one 4-inch long link (60 grams) contains 1 percent carbohydrates, 76 percent fats, and 23 percent protein. That one link has 273 calories.
One link of chorizo sausage contains 1.1 grams of carbohydrates, 0 dietary fiber, 23 grams of total fat, 8.6 grams of saturated fat, and 14.5 grams of protein. It also contains 52.8 mg of cholesterol.
It is high in B vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. It is also high in selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. Unfortunately, it is also very high in sodium. That small one link portion contains 741 mg of sodium which is about 1/3 of an adult’s daily requirement for sodium.
So, despite the protein, vitamins, and minerals, the sodium is problematic. It’s also high in calories and fats.
You can buy healthier chorizo if you find sausage made from chicken or other meats that have less fat and sodium. You don’t have to give up eating these spicy sausages if you really love them.
Can dogs eat chorizo?
Realistically, no. Even if you find “healthy” chorizo, it’s not really chorizo if it’s not spicy to some extent. Virtually all chorizo is made with spices that include garlic. Hot peppers, chili peppers, and chili powder are also used. All of these spices are bad for your dog. The kind of meat doesn’t really matter. The spices are one of the big problems.
Don’t forget that most chorizo are extremely high in sodium, too. The sodium in chorizo is high even for humans. It’s off the charts high for your dog. Remember that one 4-inch link of chorizo we discussed above that had 741 mg of sodium? That amount is more than three times as much sodium as a dog weighing 33 pounds should have in a single day. (A 33-pound dog only needs about 200 mg of sodium per day.) Giving your dog chorizo can lead to some serious problems with sodium/salt poisoning, especially if your dog over-indulges.
Symptoms of sodium/salt poisoning
- Excessive thirst
- Fluid retention
- Frequent urination
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle spasms
- Respiratory distress
- Stomach pain
- Tongue swelling
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog after he has eaten very salty food, contact your veterinarian immediately.
How much chorizo can dogs eat?
We don’t recommend that you give your dog chorizo because of the spices used in the sausage and the high sodium/salt content.
At most, you could give your dog one small bite. Even then, many dogs probably won’t enjoy chorizo because they are usually very hot. Most dogs don’t like hot, spicy foods.
The fat content of chorizo is also a problem for dogs. Again, if your dog eats one small bite, it shouldn’t be a problem. But if your dog manages to chow down on a lot of chorizo, it could lead to a sudden bout of pancreatitis because of the fat in the sausages.
Symptoms of pancreatitis in dogs
- Loss of appetite
- Belly pain
- A fever or low body temperature
- A hard time breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
If you notice these symptoms in your dog, especially if they last more than a day, contact your veterinarian.
How often can you give your dog chorizo?
We recommend that you don’t give your dog chorizo because of the hot spices, garlic, and sodium/salt content.
Chorizo is a delicious sausage if you enjoy Mexican, Caribbean, or other cuisines that feature this spicy food. However, the spices and sodium/salt mean that it’s not a good food to share with your dog. Most dogs don’t really like hot, spicy foods anyway. If your dog should somehow eat a chorizo, watch for signs of sodium/salt poisoning. If you notice symptoms such as excessive thirst, lethargy, frequent urination, vomiting, staggering, tremors, or other problems, contact your veterinarian immediately.