According to your dog, pepperoni is sausage and that means it should be A-OK for dogs to eat. It’s hard to find a dog that doesn’t have a fondness for sausage. But if you have wondered whether dogs can have pepperoni or if you can share a bite of your pepperoni pizza with your dog, it’s a little more complicated. Like other sausages, pepperoni is generally high in fat, salt, and seasonings that may not agree with your dog. At the very least, pepperoni is not recommended for dogs as a regular treat.
Can dogs have a little pepperoni as an occasional snack when you are eating some? Keep reading to find out.
Pepperoni is an American version of salami so the comparison to salami is appropriate. It’s made from cured pork and beef with paprika or other chili pepper. Sometimes turkey meat is used though it has to be clearly labeled. It’s a cured, dry sausage similar to some of the spicy salamis from southern Italy.
Nitrates and nitrites are commonly used during the curing process to protect against botulism and other microbiological agents that can cause the meat to spoil. It’s not unusual for nitrates to be used for curing meats but they can cause migraines in some people. Nitrates in processed foods are generally considered safe for most people in limited amounts. However, infants and people who are sensitive to nitrates should use caution about eating these foods.
Pepperoni (made from pork and beef) contains 20 percent protein and 80 percent fats. It’s a good source of protein but it is high in saturated fat and sodium. It also contains transfat. Transfat can increase your LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
One ounce of pepperoni contains 138 calories. Some 84 percent of those total calories are fat. Pepperoni is low in most vitamins and minerals though one ounce does feature 14 percent of the daily recommended value of selenium. Selenium is an important antioxidant that keeps your immune system strong. It helps control harmful free radicals that are produced as byproducts of metabolic and environmental factors. Selenium is also important for reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, and the synthesis of DNA.
For humans, eating pepperoni occasionally on a pizza isn’t harmful to your long-term health but the fat, cholesterol, and sodium mean that it’s not something you should eat on a regular basis .
One ounce of pepperoni contains 443 milligrams of sodium which is very high.
Pepperoni contains a moderate amount of manganese which helps the body with proper enzyme function for the metabolism of protein, cholesterol, and carbohydrates, bone development, muscle contraction, and wound healing.
It also contains zinc for immune function, neurotransmission, vision, and reproduction. Pepperoni contains a modest amount of phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. It has some iron for healthy red blood cell production. And it contains a small amount of copper that helps with iron absorption.
Along with small amounts of these minerals, pepperoni also contains small amounts of several B vitamins such as B12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. B vitamins provide energy so the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, and cells function properly.
Can You Give Dogs Pepperoni?
Pepperoni isn’t recommended for dogs on a regular basis because of its high fat and sodium content. However, you can give your dog one or two slices occasionally – very occasionally. Most of us have a hard time resisting when we’re eating pizza and our dog looks at us with pleading eyes.
If it makes you feel any better, while pepperoni isn’t toxic to dogs, it does contain some ingredients that aren’t very healthy for your dog.
We looked at the ingredients for one popular brand of pepperoni you can buy in supermarkets. Here they are:
BHA, BHT with Citric Acid Added to Help Protect Flavor Ingredients: Pork, Beef, Salt, Contains 2% or less of Water, Dextrose, Spices, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Oleoresin of Paprika, Garlic Powder, Sodium Nitrite, BHA, BHT, Citric Acid.
No Big 8 Allergens Present
A tiny dash of garlic powder is unlikely to hurt your dog but this pepperoni (and others) contains preservatives that you might not like. The spices are not identified.
One or two slices of pepperoni like this won’t hurt your dog but you can see why you shouldn’t give them to your dog regularly.
In addition, just one slice of pepperoni (2 grams) contains 33.1 milligrams of sodium. A 30-pound dog needs 100 mg of sodium in his diet in one day so you can see how much salt/sodium pepperoni contributes. If your 30-pound dog eats four slices of pepperoni, he would be over his daily sodium requirement. Too much salt/sodium can put your dog at risk for salt poisoning. Too much fat from foods like pepperoni can lead to obesity or pancreatitis.
If your dog consumes more than a few slices of pepperoni, watch for these symptoms:
How Much Pepperoni Can You Give Your Dog?
Because of the high fat and salt content in pepperoni, we suggest that you limit your dog to no more than one or two small round slices.
Don’t panic if your dog steals a slice of pizza and wolfs it down. One of my dogs stole an entire frozen pizza out of my oven once (very quietly). She survived. But don’t make a habit of giving your dog pepperoni.
If your dog does manage to eat a lot of pepperoni and you are concerned, call your veterinarian.
How Often Can You Give Your Dog Pepperoni?
It’s best if you don’t give your dog pepperoni very often. One or two round slices once per week would be enough. Remember that the sodium in the pepperoni can affect your dog’s electrolyte balance. If your dog eats a couple of pieces of pepperoni on Monday, even though it’s not a lot, you need to make sure his electrolytes return to normal before you think about letting him have another salty treat.
Most dogs love pepperoni but it’s not a good idea to use it as a frequent reward or to give it to your dog very often. Pepperoni is high in fat and sodium, both of which can be bad for your dog in large amounts. If your dog is begging you for a bite of pepperoni from your pizza, don’t give your dog more than one or two small, round pieces occasionally. Contact your veterinarian if your dog consumes a large amount of pepperoni.