It’s a rare dog that doesn’t love beef but what about corned beef? Corned beef is a salt-cured brisket of beef, usually with other spices added. Find out if it’s safe to let dogs eat corned beef in our short guide below.
Corned beef is made from beef brisket. It’s cured with large-grained rock salt (sometimes called “corns” of salt). Sugar and other spices are added to some recipes. Some recipes include nitrates which give the beef a pink color. Nitrates reduce the risk of botulism. However, nitrates and nitrites have been linked to an increased risk of cancer in mice. If the beef is cured without nitrates, it is typically a grayish color. This is sometimes called “New England corned beef.”
Corned beef was known in Europe and the Middle East during the middle ages. It was an important food during World War I and World War II when fresh meat was rationed. It’s still a part of field rations for armed forces today. It’s also a popular food in various cuisines around the world.
Nutritionally, corned beef is a good source of protein, vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium. However, it is high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
It is made up of 1 percent carbohydrates, 68 percent fats, and 31 percent protein.
A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of corned beef contains 213 calories. It has 0.4 grams of total carbohydrates, 16.1 grams of total fat, including 5.4 grams of saturated fat. It also has 15.4 grams of protein.
That 3-ounce serving of corned beef has 964 mg of sodium – 40 percent of the daily value recommended for sodium.
Corned beef is tasty but is it a healthy food? The brisket typically used to make corned beef is a tough, fatty piece of meat. That’s why it is brined or marinated in salt and cooked slowly to tenderize it. Slow cooking, salt, and other spices make corned beef very tender and flavorful but it’s high in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
There’s really no way to make a low-sodium version of corned beef since the salt/brining is necessary to tenderize the brisket.
Homemade corned beef made with pickling salt will not contain nitrates. However, if you buy canned/commercial corned beef, most of it will contain sodium nitrite as a preservative. If the corned beef is homemade it will be gray in color. If it’s commercially made, it will probably be pink.
As a source of protein, corned beef provides iron and other nutrients that help make healthy red blood cells. However, corned beef is considered to be a processed meat since it has been cured or brined. According to some studies, processed meats may contribute to a higher risk of health problems and death.
The high amounts of sodium in processed meats may raise blood pressure and contribute to a higher risk of heart disease.
Because of the high salt content and other possible risks, it’s a good idea to only eat corned beef occasionally.
Should you give dogs corned beef?
No, corned beef is not recommended for dogs. The sodium content is much too high for dogs to eat safely. Even a couple of ounces of corned beef contains far more sodium than your dog needs in a day due to the brining process for the meat.
If your dog manages to consume a lot of corned beef (such as your corned beef sandwich), he could experience salt toxicity. Contact your veterinarian.
The brine for corned beef can also contain spices such as sugar, allspice, coriander, peppercorn, mustard seeds, and bay leaf. Some of these spices – especially allspice – can be harmful to dogs.
Corned beef is also high in fat. Eating too much fat can be problematic for dogs. Too much fat in your dog’s diet can lead to pancreatitis. Your dog can develop an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, or vomit.
Pancreatitis in dogs occurs when the pancreas (a small organ that sits behind the small intestine and the stomach) is inflamed and swollen. This can occur if your dog eats too much fat and the enzymes in the pancreas over-react. The purpose of the pancreas is to help dogs digest food and regulate their blood sugar.
Signs that a dog may have pancreatitis include:
- Hunched back
- Repeated vomiting (either several times within a few hours or periodically over several days)
- Pain or distention of the abdomen (dog appears uncomfortable or bloated)
- Loss of appetite
If you notice these symptoms, you need to contact your veterinarian. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening.
How much corned beef can you give your dog?
We don’t recommend that you give your dog corned beef because of the salt content, the presence of other spices, and the fat in the meat.
If you do want to share some corned beef with your dog, you should only give him a small bite.
There are many other kinds of beef that you can share with your dog that don’t contain the high sodium level found in corned beef. Look for plain roast beef or ground beef.
How often can you give your dog corned beef?
We don’t recommend that you give your dog corned beef. It should not be a common part of your dog’s diet.
Corned beef may be delicious but the sodium, spices, and fat make it a unsafe for your dog. If your dog loves meat, look for some plain roast beef to share with him instead.