Can Dogs Eat Ham?

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Ham is a traditional Easter or Christmas course, although nowadays it is consumed regularly. It is made tasty by its rich fat content, which is actually the reason you might be asking whether it is safe for dogs or not.

Is it fine to give dog a slice of ham from time to time? Or should you refrain from offering it to him at all cost? In today’s post, we’ll get to know what usually happens to dogs after consuming ham.

Ham: A Not-So-Friendly Meat for Humans and Dogs

There are several types of ham. The kind you usually see in supermarkets is pre-cooked ham, meaning it was already baked, cured, or smoked.

A pre-cooked ham, also known as city ham, only requires reheating. Did you know that reheated precooked food can also be detrimental to your health? When reheated more than once, food loses its nutritional value and some of its natural taste.

Then there is the fresh ham, which is raw and needs hours of cooking. It is like preparing a turkey meat because it takes a bit more time. Fresh ham is usually served with a lot of condiments that might harm your dog. Some people cook it with white wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and ground black pepper.

A serving (around two ounces) of smoked ham has 5 grams of fat. The same amount of roasted ham has three times more fat than smoked sliced ham. The amount of fat depends on how the meat was prepared. Other types of ham have even more fat content.

The American Kennel Club said it would not hurt to occasionally give dog a small piece of tasty ham. Still, the institution believes that ham should be avoided for doggies as much as possible.

Furthermore, the World Health Organization warned about eating processed meats such as ham, bacon, and sausages. The organization advises people to stick to no more than 500 grams of red meat per week, this including beef, lamb, and pork.

Processed meats are bad for animals and humans and have even been ranked by the organization as one of the top carcinogens, being claimed to be as cancerous as cigarettes. What makes processed meats cancerous? Let’s take a look at the ingredients of pre-cooked ham. Here are the ingredients of one brand’s brown sugar cured ham:

  • Water
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Sodium phosphate
  • Sodium diacetate
  • Sodium nitrite
  • Modified corn starch
  • Xanthan gum
  • Yellow corn meal

Apparently, this pre-cooked ham contains too much sodium. Every 3-ounce serving of it already has a whopping 1,050 mg of sodium. That amount of sodium is very unhealthy for canines and way more than the recommended sodium quantity for them. The Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources says dogs around 33 pounds should not have more than 100 mg of sodium per day.

The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii together with the University of Southern California conducted a research about the connection between sodium nitrites and cancer. The study suggested that people who ate more processed meats have a 67% higher risk of pancreatic cancer than their counterparts who consume less. When mixed with the meat’s naturally present amines, the sodium nitrite creates carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds.

Processed meat like ham can be bad for both humans and canines. Like humans, dogs can suffer from pancreatic cancer or insulinoma when their pancreas is not functioning properly. It is important that your dog has a healthy pancreas in order to avoid this kind of condition. That said, you should be extra careful in feeding him processed meat.

Dogs with too much fat in their diet are prone to pancreatitis. When the pancreas is inflamed, your dog’s digestive enzymes do not function correctly. The enzymes damage the actual organ itself as well as other organs around it such as the liver, gallbladder, and intestines.

Pancreatitis is a life-threatening condition for canines. Since dogs are all different, they have unique ways of reacting to the illness. Some may only give out subtle hints, like all of a sudden lacking interest in their usual activities. Others may show alarming symptoms on the onset, including nausea and diarrhea. Pancreatitis can kill dogs if it goes without treatment for a long time.

The Best Kinds of Meat for Canines

Canines need a decent amount of meat in their diet, but not all kinds of meat are good for them. We all know processed meat is completely different from fresh meat. There are a lot of studies proving that people who consumed more processed meat are more prone to having cancer. When buying meat for your pet, consider the ones below instead of giving him processed meat.

Chicken – this lean meat is loaded with protein that can be a main energy source for dogs. The best thing about chicken meat is that it helps increase your pup’s energy source without adding on extra calories. It contains decent amounts of zinc, manganese, and thiamin. Chicken can be served to dogs in several ways. It can be added to your dog’s usual food or on its own. Chicken can also be paired with rice to be served to them with digestive problems. It can also be mixed with grains when you are thinking of making homemade dog food.

Beef – as long as the beef is well-cooked and free from bones, it can be a safe and healthy treat for dogs. In fact, most of them would die for beef. It is amazing to watch a dog eat beef jerky in just a few seconds! Just a tip: when offering beef jerky to your dog, make sure it is plain. For people who are health conscious, there is grass-fed beef readily available on the market. These types of beef do not have by-products and the cattle was grazed on pesticide-free grass. You can prepare beef for your dog the same way you would prepare chicken, including adding rice for sick pets. Ground beef and rice are a perfect combination for doggies with an aching belly.

Pork – another canine-favorite, pork is actually safe for them as long as the meat was prepared accordingly. Many dog products also have pork incorporated, including pork biscuits and pig ears. Undercooked pork or contaminated raw pork can carry a parasite called Trichinella. This roundworm causes an infection called trichinosis. To make sure there is no parasite in the meat before you cook it, it is advised that you freeze the pork for three weeks before cooking. This process kills the potential parasites. However, offer pork in moderation and keep it plain.

Kangaroo – kangaroo meat is incredibly high in protein but low in fat and that is why many pet owners offer it to their dogs. If your pooch likes the taste of venison and buffalo meat, then he will surely enjoy this one as well because it tastes similar to these kinds of meat. Kangaroo meat can also be added to a dog’s diet if he is suffering from chronic diseases because it contains conjugated linoleic acid that does so many good things for the body. Besides improving your doggie’s immune system, the said free fatty acid also works as an antioxidant. The only problem with kangaroo meat is that it can be hard to find, unless you live in Australia where it is considered a native food.

Turkey – your dog will love Thanksgiving as much as you do because there is turkey on the table. Turkey is categorized as poultry, so it has a resemblance to chicken when it comes to the flavor. However, it has a stronger smell than chicken. You have to make sure the skin is off the bone, the skin was removed, and there is no excess fat before giving it to your dog. Also, don’t let him eat the holiday leftovers as they might contain onions and seasonings that can be toxic for your pup.

Lamb – nutrition-wise, lamb meat offers decent amounts of protein. Lamb has always been a favourite among dogs, except when it has already been cooked since the spices used can mask its natural aroma. Some dog owners even offer raw lamb to their pets, believing that it is better for doggies. Lamb meat normally has an earthy and gamey taste. Compared to other types of meat like chicken, lamb meat has a stronger flavor and it is meatier. It is fattier too, so better offer it in very small amounts. This type of meat is, in fact, an excellent source of antioxidant minerals that can protect your dog from oxidative stress as well as from the risk of heart diseases. If your dog has allergies to beef or chicken, consider offering him lamb meat instead.

Conclusion

Dogs need fat and oil in their diet, but the fat should not only come from an animal source. They can also get it from oils of plants. Too much fat may cause pancreatitis in dogs, so it should be given in moderate amounts.

Your dog will not die from occasionally eating ham but it’s better to only give him small cuts every now and then, just to be safe. Don’t let your pet consume too much processed meat because it can be detrimental to his well-being. Processed meat can be very salty so your dog will end up being very thirsty afterwards.

Ham contains very high amounts of preservatives and saturated fat. Thus, giving it to an already overweight dog will make his condition worse. Better stick to lean meat such as beef and chicken when feeding your pooch meat.

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