Turkey bacon became popular in the 1990s when many people started to become more health conscious. It is considerably lower in fat than regular bacon made from pork. Before you decide to fry up a pan of turkey bacon for your dog, however, there are some pros and cons to this meat. Learn more below.
As you can guess from the name, turkey bacon is a meat made from chopped, formed, cured, and smoked turkey. It is marketed as a low-fat alternative to pork bacon. It has about 25 percent fewer calories and 35 percent less saturated fat than regular bacon. Some people also eat it if their personal religion forbids them from consuming pork products but they still want to enjoy some bacon flavor.
Turkey bacon is normally pan-fried. You can also use a microwave or bake it in the oven. It can be used in many of the same ways that pork bacon is used. It is lower in fat and calories than regular bacon. For example, two strips of Butterball turkey bacon contain 3 grams of fat and 50 calories (32 percent calories from fat). Turkey bacon from Louis Rich contains 5 grams of fat in two slices. Two strips of regular pork bacon contains about 7 grams of fat. However, turkey bacon contains, on average, about twice as much sodium as pork products.
One microwaved slice of turkey bacon has about 30 calories compared to 43 calories for pork bacon. It has 0.3 grams of carbs, 2.4 grams of protein, and 2.1 grams of fat. It has 0.6 grams of saturated fat.
On the down side, despite having fewer calories and less fat than pork bacon, turkey bacon is still relatively high in calories and fat.
Turkey bacon is a processed meat that has less protein (by about 20 percent per serving) and more added sugar than regular bacon. With less fat than pork bacon, manufacturers sometimes add more sugar for better taste. It also contains preservatives that have been linked to increased cancer risk such as nitrates and nitrites.
Nitrate and nitrate preservatives used in cured meats have been linked to an increased risk of throat, stomach, and colon cancers. They are believed to produce harmful compounds called nitrosamines.
Turkey bacon is also a highly processed meat product. Studies have found that the regular consumption of processed meat may increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There may also be an increased risk of developing some kinds of cancer but more research is needed.
You can find turkey bacon with no sugar added, lower preservatives, and low-sodium.
In terms of taste, turkey bacon doesn’t taste exactly like pork bacon but it has a salty, smoky, meaty flavor that many people enjoy. The texture is somewhat different from regular bacon.
If you want to eat turkey bacon, it’s best to have it in moderation.
Can you give your dog turkey bacon to eat?
Most dogs love pork bacon, whether it’s good for them or not. So, the question we need to ask is whether turkey bacon is better or worse for your dog than pork bacon.
It’s really a trade-off. While pork bacon is higher in fat and calories, turkey bacon has less protein and more added sugar. Turkey bacon is usually higher in sodium. Both kinds of bacon have added preservatives.
In both cases, you can find uncured pork bacon and uncured turkey bacon; as well as bacon without added sugar and preservatives; and low-sodium versions.
It’s always a good idea to read the label when you buy any processed meats to make sure they don’t contain seasonings such as onion and garlic which could be harmful to dogs.
The bottom line for your dog is that you can give him turkey bacon as long as you do so in moderation. Only let him have a small amount.
How much turkey bacon can your dog eat?
Since turkey bacon is still relatively high in fat and calories and it can be high in sodium and sugar, we suggest that you limit the amount you share with your dog.
One slice of turkey bacon has about 250 mg of sodium. That is more salt than a dog weighing 33 pounds needs per day. With that in mind, you can give a small dog half a slice of turkey bacon. A medium or larger dog could have one slice.
You can crumble the turkey bacon on top of your dog’s food or feed it to him from your hand. You can also use it to fill a Kong toy to keep your dog busy.
Giving your dog too much turkey bacon could lead to problems. The same is true if your dog manages to steal and eat a package of turkey bacon which has been known to happen. In these cases, a dog can develop salt toxicity. Salt toxicosis is rare but these are the signs:
- Ataxia (loss of coordination)
- Muscle tremors
- Seizure-like activity
If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to your veterinarian. Your vet will evaluate your dog’s hydration and electrolyte status.
Most dogs that eat too much bacon (or turkey bacon) will be very thirsty but they will not develop salt toxicosis. They may vomit or have diarrhea but it will pass.
How often can you give your dog turkey bacon?
If you like to give your dog a small amount of turkey bacon, it’s best not to do it too often because of the fat, calories, and sodium content. You can give it to your dog as a special treat once or twice per week.
We don’t recommend that you use turkey bacon as a regular training treat. It’s too salty and too high in calories for frequent use as a treat.
Most dogs love any kind of bacon whether it comes from pork or turkey. There are some pros and cons to giving your dog turkey bacon but, on the whole, you should be able to share some with your dog if you use moderation.