The word prosciutto rolls off the tongue when you pronounce it. It always sounds like something elegant and delicious, doesn’t it? If you’re not familiar with prosciutto, it is Italian uncooked, unsmoked, dry-cured ham – usually thinly-sliced and expensive. Your dog would probably love to have some but can dogs eat prosciutto safely? Find out below.
In Italian, the word prosciutto refers to any kind of ham, either dry-cured or cooked. However, in English-speaking countries, prosciutto usually refers to dry-cured hams. Most people use prosciutto to mean dry-cured hams produced in Italy but they can be made elsewhere. If you are buying prosciutto, make sure you read the label so you know where it comes from.
Prosciutto is generally made from the hind leg or thigh of a pig or wild boar. It can also be made from the hind leg of other animals such as a lamb. If another animal is used, it should be included in the name of the product (“lamb prosciutto”). It can take between nine months and two years to dry-cure the ham to make the prosciutto, depending on the size of the ham.
The prosciutto crudo di Parma, from Parma in Italy, and prosciutto crudo di San Daniele, from the San Daniele del Friuli area in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, are the two most well-known kinds of prosciutto. Salt is the only additive allowed for these meats. Additives such as nitrites and nitrates for curing are prohibited. Other regions have their own special meats with different color, texture, and flavor.
A serving size of prosciutto is considered to be one ounce. While a serving size of most meats is usually considered to be three ounces, prosciutto is a processed meat (dry-cured). Servings of processed meats are recommended to be one ounce instead of three. One ounce may not seem like much but it is usually two slices of prosciutto since the meat is cut thin.
A one-ounce serving (28 grams) of prosciutto contains just 55 calories with 21 calories from fat.
It has 59 percent protein, 1 percent carbohydrates, and 40 percent fat.
It contains 2.4 grams of total fat and 7.9 grams of protein.
One ounce of prosciutto contains 145 mg of potassium. It also contains 764 mg of sodium. The high amount of sodium can be a concern.
Prosciutto does contain fair amounts of riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, niacin, zinc, vitamin B6, and choline.
Prosciutto is considered to be a healthier alternative to bacon since it has half the calories but all of the flavor.
On the down side, the American Cancer Society considers any meat that has been salted, cured, smoked or fermented for flavor and preservation as a processed meat. Processed meats may be more likely to cause some cancers. It’s best to eat foods like prosciutto in moderation.
We note that Italian producers of prosciutto took exception to their products being referred to as “processed meats.” We do agree that there is a difference between prosciutto and hot dogs.
Foods that are high in saturated fats can also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. However, compared to many other meats, prosciutto is not particularly high in saturated fat.
Because of the sodium used for curing prosciutto, you should be extra cautious with the amount of salt used in your diet. High amounts of sodium in the diet have been linked not only to high blood pressure but also to stomach cancer.
Food allergies or sensitivities are a possibility with some kinds of prosciutto, depending on the spices and preservatives used during the curing process. The highest quality prosciutto is not cured with nitrites or nitrates. It is probably less likely to induce an allergic reaction.
Is prosciutto raw pork?
Yes and no. There are two kinds of prosciutto: prosciutto cotto (cooked) and prosciutto crudo (uncooked but cured).
You can read about how prosciutto is cured here: https://parmacrown.com/what-is-prosciutto/.
Prosciutto does not have to be cooked when you buy it. The meat has been dried and cured before you buy it. It is ready to eat. The curing process ensures that no bacteria grows on the meat. Inspectors must pass the meat while it is curing and before it is sold.
Can you give your dog prosciutto to eat?
Yes, dogs can eat prosciutto, in very small amounts. Tiny amounts. You can give your dog a small bite of prosciutto as a reward or as a Christmas treat. But, don’t give it to your dog very often. Prosciutto is delicious but it’s high in sodium.
Not only is prosciutto high in sodium but it’s really expensive! A pound of sliced prosciutto di Parma, imported from Italy, is about $35, plus shipping costs. If you buy the whole prosciutto ham, it can cost several hundred dollars. Prosciutto may be delicious but there are healthier treats for your dog that won’t empty your bank account.
It’s always possible that your dog might be allergic to a meat protein in prosciutto or have a sensitivity to one of the ingredients used to cure the meat. However, this doesn’t happen very often. If your dog has eaten pork before without any problems, he problem won’t have a problem with prosciutto. We do recommend that you examine the label to see if any of the named ingredients might pose a problem for your dog.
How much prosciutto can you give your dog?
If you are going to give your dog any prosciutto, you should only let him have a small bite, regardless of his size.
In some ways, prosciutto may be a healthier alternative to bacon. It has fewer calories than bacon, for example. It’s also not especially high in saturated fat compared with some other pork products. Plus, it has intense flavor.
The problem with prosciutto is that it’s high in sodium. A one-ounce serving of prosciutto contains about 764 mg of sodium. A 33-lb dog is only recommended to have 200 mg of sodium in his diet per day. That one-ounce serving of prosciutto contains nearly four times as much sodium as the dog in the example needs in a day.
If your dog eats that much sodium very often, he can become dehydrated or worse. He could experience sodium poisoning or salt toxicosis. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, loss of coordination, and seizures. If you think your dog is experience salt toxicosis, contact your veterinarian.
If your dog eats too much salty food and becomes dehydrated, he may drink too much water. In some cases this can lead to bloat. Bloat can be a life-threatening emergency. If you suspect your dog is bloating, get him to a veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms of bloat include:
- swollen or distended abdomen
- painful abdomen
- overall look of distress
- retching or attempts to vomit with no success
- excessive drooling
- panting or rapid breathing
- collapse/inability to stand
How often can you give your dog prosciutto?
We know that dogs love foods like prosciutto. If you can’t say no (we have trouble saying no, too), it’s best if you only give this kind of food to your dog occasionally, as a special treat. Only give it to your dog in a very small amount.
Prosciutto is one of the more delicious kinds of pork in the world. It’s not surprising that many dogs leap at the chance to have a taste. All the same, the high sodium content makes prosciutto unhealthy for dogs. If you do want to give your dog a little prosciutto occasionally, make sure it is a very small bite and don’t let your dog have it very often.