Often when I am sitting with my family eating a meal, the canine member is sitting at my feet looking up with hope in his eyes. He is waiting for any scraps that he might be given. Sometimes he will bark a plaintive request, but usually gets nothing.
Giving dogs scraps at the table is not a good habit. But what about later when the meal has been cleared away and there are some scraps left? Can they be fed to my dog? What about pork? I have heard dogs should not have pork? Is that right?
Can dogs eat pork?
Pork is a great meat but must be given to your dog in moderation. Avoid highly-processed pork products and the fatty parts of roast pork and all should be well.
The general term ‘pork’ covers a range of products including ham, sausages, and bacon as well as roast pork, pork chops and pork steaks. The best way to judge whether to give pork to your dog is to decide if the product is highly processed or not.
Bacon, sausages and ham is usually processed. Salt and preservatives will have been added to extend the shelf life of the product. These can be harmful to your dog. Also these highly processed products will contain high levels of fat. No dog will be healthier for eating a lot of fat! It can lead to problems like obesity.
Too high a level of salt in your dog’s diet can bring about pancreatitis. Salt will also make your dog more thirsty and he will then need to drink more. This in turn causes bloating which can be fatal.
The other pork products to avoid are dried pig’s ears and rawhide strips. They are treated with chemicals to dry and preserve them and those can be harmful to your dog.
Pork meat that is not processed to the same extent can be given to your dog quite safely. The keyword here though is ‘moderation’. If you balance the amount of pork you give your dog with his other food, then you are unlikely to have problems.
Pork meat is rich and should always be given in moderation. There is evidence to suggest that dogs suffer allergic reactions more to pork than other meats. This may be due to the richness of the meat but always be aware of any symptoms your dog might show. Lethargy, lack of appetite, swelling around his mouth, or vomiting might suggest an allergic reaction.
Cooked or raw pork?
Dogs can eat either cooked or raw pork. Roast pork, cooked pork chops and cooked pork steaks are fine. Feed these cooked meats in moderation and your dog will suffer no ill-effects. Just avoid cooked bacon and the rinds from roast pork. The rinds tend to be high in fat – think of the crackling from roast pork and how fatty that is!
Dogs can also eat raw pork with no ill-effects. In fact dogs can eat a range of raw meat such as beef and chicken. Their wild forebears would have relied on raw meat to survive. Dogs can digest raw meat with no problem.
Fortunately the worst problem that can occur from eating raw meat is rare. It is called trichinosis. This is caused by a parasite sometimes found in raw meat. Today modern farming methods make trichinosis a rare occurrence. However should your dog contract it, he will show the following symptoms:
– Pain in his muscles
– Not being able to chew properly
– General weakness
– Developing a fever
– Cramps in his limbs
– Vomiting and other signs of an upset stomach
– Breathing problems
– Heart failure
If your dog shows any of the above symptoms after eating raw meat – whether pork or another meat – then consult your veterinarian immediately. He or she will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
What about bones?
Do not be tempted to give your dog either cooked or raw pork bones. Like chicken bones, pork bones can splinter and cause damage to your dog’s mouth. Even more seriously, the sharp bone shards can do severe damage to your dog’s intestines and stomach.
Are there any benefits of pork meat for dogs?
Yes, pork is a high protein meat. This means it can benefit general health and the ability of your dog to recover from illness or wounds. Pork also contains certain enzymes that can aid a dog’s digestion.