Knowing what your dog can and cannot eat is an essential part of keeping them healthy and happy. In this case, you may be wondering whether or not it is ok to feed your dog ham. As such, this post is dedicated to the question of can dogs eat ham and is meant to provide you with everything you need to know about this topic.
In some ways, the answer to whether or not your dog can eat ham is a relatively simple yes. Feeding your dog a piece of ham on occasion should be perfectly fine as long as your dog is in good health. However, ham is not the healthiest option since it contains large amounts of salt and fat.
Knowing what your dog should and shouldn’t eat isn’t just about understanding what foods could harm or poison them. Instead, it requires a more complete understanding of your dog’s overall health and the potential effects that any food you give them could cause.
Why Ham Is Not the Best Choice for Dogs?
Imagine you’re standing in the kitchen carving up a ham and your precious pooch can’t help but start drooling over the delicious smell. If you’re like most people, your first inclination might be to give them a small slice as a treat.
However, you may want to reconsider this if you want your best friend to stay healthy and in good shape for as long as possible.
As previously stated, feeding your dog the occasional slice of ham will most likely cause them no harm. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that there is a huge range of healthier treat options that are far better for your pet and will provide them with the same amount of enjoyment.
Now, this isn’t to say that ham is the worst option, but is also definitely not the best in terms of protein, salt, and fat.
Ham Is Very High in Sodium
Like other processed meats, ham usually has a very high sodium content. Ham is also a cured meat, which means it is preserved using nitrates and nitrites. Unfortunately, these are also sodium-based, which only increase the total amount of salt your dog your pup will take in from eating a piece of ham.
The reason you need to be aware of this is that sodium can actually be toxic to dogs. An excess of salt can potentially cause your dog to experience a variety of different health problems ranging from minor to even life-threatening.
Excessive urination, dehydration, diarrhea, and vomiting can all occur from excess sodium. Too much salt may also cause your dog to become lethargic or lead to water retention or the accumulation of excess fluid in your dog’s body. In more serious situations, an excess of sodium can even lead to seizures or kidney damage. Worst of all, it could cause your dog to fall into a coma or even be fatal.
Of course, dogs do require some sodium in their diet just like their owners do. In general, experts recommend that dogs get between 0.25 and 1.5 grams of sodium per 100 grams of food they eat.
The issue is that ham contains far more salt than this. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that a single 143-gram slice of ham contains 1.42 grams of sodium on average.
This means that feeding your dog just one slice of ham could provide them with equal to or more than the total amount of sodium they should have for the entire day.
Now, this may not sound like an issue until you consider the fact that any well-balanced dog food already provides your pet with as much sodium as they need to function properly.
Understanding the Importance of Protein and Fat
To stay healthy, an adult dog needs both fat and protein. In general, experts recommended that at least 5.5% of a dog’s total calories come from fat and at least 10% comes from protein.
However, it is worth noting that these numbers are only the bare minimum. In fact, most vets recommend that around 20 to 25% of a dog’s caloric intake comes from protein and anywhere from 10 to 20% from fat.
Now, you might be saying to yourself that ham contains both fat and protein so it should be ok for dogs. While this is technically true, the problem lies in the amount of fat and type of protein that ham contains.
In terms of protein, there is much debate as to how easily digestible the protein found in ham actually is. While there are some studies that show it is easily digestible, there are numerous other studies that contrast this. These other studies seem to indicate that ham is far inferior to other protein sources as it is much harder to digest.
Still, the far bigger issue with feeding your dog ham lies in its high-fat content. Generally speaking, a dog’s diet should never consist of more than 25% fat as otherwise they can become overweight and experience a variety of associated health issues.
The problem is that ham is very high in fat, which means that even feeding them a few pieces here and there could cause your pet to take in far more fat than they need.
Overweight dogs generally live much shorter lives than their healthier counterparts. In addition, being overweight can lead to dogs experiencing heart and respiratory problems, arthritis and orthopedic issues, pancreatitis, diabetes, and other potentially life-threatening health conditions.
Well-balanced dog food should contain all of the fat and protein that your dog requires. This is precisely why experts recommend not feeding your dog treats or table scraps too often, as this can throw off that delicate dietary balance.
This problem only becomes exacerbated when you choose to feed your dog ham since it has a higher fat content than almost any other type of meat.
[Related Article: Is There A Limit How Much Raw Food You Can Feed Your Dog?]
Healthier Treat Options for Dogs
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to give your pooch a treat now and then or even. In fact, you can even give your dog treats on a daily basis. Although, veterinarians do usually recommend that treats account for less than 20% of a dog’s daily calories.
All this being said, there are a variety of treats options that are far better than others in terms of helping to protect your dog from becoming overweight.
Raw or steamed vegetables are one of the healthiest options since they are both low in fat and high in fiber. Many dogs enjoy carrots, peas, green peppers, and other vegetables.
Pumpkin and other squash are also a great choice, but typically these will need to be cooked first to allow for easy digestion. Still, some fruits and vegetables are toxic to dogs, which is why all responsible pet owners should also know what things their dogs can’t eat.
Dogs truly are humans’ best friends. For most people, their dog is really more like a member of the family than just a pet. For this reason, it is essential that you pay close attention to your dog’s diet just as you would your own.
Therefore, you may want to think twice next time you want to feed your pup a piece of ham. Although the odds are good that the occasional piece of ham won’t hurt your dog, the fact is that it won’t really help them either.