Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs?

By John Martin - March 9, 2022

Hot dogs with buns

Summertime weekend barbeques can be a great time for you to get together with your family and friends. And, while you’re at the grill working on the perfect hot dog, all the divine smells and foods are probably driving your pooch completely crazy, with him making the rounds of the table looking for a way to get a nibble of the yummy hot dog.

Your pet would probably scarf down a bunch of hot dogs in a jiffy. But, before you give in to your pooch’s adorable requests for nibbles, you should consider the fact that hot dogs are not really the best food for your pet. Not only are hot dogs hazardous for your pooch’s health, but they can also be a choking hazard too. So, before you offer your furry pet a hot dog, here a few things you should know.

Hot Dog Hazards

Any processed food, particularly food that’s made for humans, is not the healthiest option for your dog. And, hot dogs are not the most nutritionally healthy foods. Hot dogs have been historically made by using cuts of meat that are less desirable, which are usually ground up and put into a sausage casing.

Store-bought, cheap hot dogs are usually made of unknown highly processed meats and contain artificial flavorings, artificial colors, nitrites, nitrates and fat. While these may be extremely delicious, they have loads of ingredients and preservatives that are not very good for your pet.

The hot dog also contains loads of salt, which comprises more than 500 mg of sodium, which is 2x more than the recommended amount of sodium for a dog that weighs around 33 lb. Any quantity of sodium exceeding the recommended limits can cause dehydration and also increase your pet’s risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Hot dogs contain artificial ingredients that are harmful to your pooch’s digestive system. Most hot dogs commonly contain sodium nitrate, a preservative that studies show is linked to cancer. Hot dogs are also seasoned with various flavorings such as garlic, onion and MSG (monosodium glutamate), which can be quite toxic for dogs.

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The processed meat is very high in calories and fat and a typical hot dog contains around 300 calories and around 17 grams of fat, both of which are unhealthy for dogs, especially if your pet is older, more sedentary or obese. Hot dogs usually come in a bun and the bun is usually loaded with processed carbs and sugar, which are not recommended for your dog regardless of his size or age.

And, apart from the potentially harmful ingredients in a hot dog, if your dog has been drooling quietly while you were eating or has snuck food on the sly, he may be scarfing down the foods whole very quickly without chewing them. And, if your pet tries to swallow a hot dog too without chewing it, it can easily become a choking hazard.

Because of its shape and size, the hot dog can get lodged in your pooch’s throat, fill up the passageway and block the air. Your pet will not be able to tell you that he’s choking and it can be quite difficult to remove the hot dog from your pet’s throat, which can be very dangerous.

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What If Your Dog Does Eat a Hot Dog?

If your pooch does eat a hot dog, there’s no cause to worry. Just one hot dog will probably not cause your pet any harm. However, if you do have a cookout, avoid throwing the leftover hot dog in a trash can that can be easily accessed by your pet. The enticing smell is sure to attract your nosey pooch and bingeing on high-fat food can cause diarrhea, vomiting and inflammation of the pancreas. Make sure to throw away the leftovers where your pet cannot help himself.

If your pet has diarrhea or vomiting after eating a hot dog, it will probably last for a day. However, if the diarrhea persists, then take your dog to the vet. If your pooch is having diarrhea along with vomiting, this could cause extreme dehydration. The excess salt in the hot dog can also make your pet extremely thirsty. So, ensure that he has plenty of water to drink.

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Healthier Alternative to a Hot Dog

Hot dogs may be fine for your pooch as a once-in-a-while treat. And, if you do want to include your dog in your barbecue and feed him a hot dog, make sure that it is made with high-quality ingredients. Give him a plain hot dog without the condiments like mustard, ketchup, etc. and the bun, which only adds unnecessary calories. You could give your pet some plain, chicken, pork or beef without any salt or other seasonings.

Usually, store-bought hot dogs are precooked and can be eaten as is. However, it is recommended that you cook the hot dog first before you feed it to your pet. The cooking will help to kill any bacteria and reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning. Also, make sure that you cut up the hot dog into small, bite-sized pieces to ensure that your dog doesn’t choke on it.

If you feel that giving your pooch a taste of your food is a way to create bonds with your pet and earn his trust and love or that it is a helpful way to motivate your pet by giving him a treat as a reward for obeying you while training him, you must limit or avoid many types of foods, which can be harmful and even toxic for your dog.

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Some of the food on the “not recommended” list include chocolate, citrus fruits, raisins, caffeine, avocado, yeast dough, alcohol, xylitol, coconut, onions, garlic, chives, macadamia nuts, undercooked eggs and meat, snacks that are high in salt, dairy, high-fat cheese and bones that can splinter. Giving your pooch unprocessed, lean meats, veggies, fruits, hard cheeses and peanut butter as an occasional treat are better choices. However, you must remember that even these foods must be given in moderation.

In conclusion, if allowed, your dog would love to chow down one or a few delicious hot dogs. He may beg you to get some or maybe sneak one off the table while you’re not looking. So, can dogs eat hot dogs? Well, if your pooch happens to get a hot dog and gobbles it down before you are able to stop him, then don’t panic. This will not cause a lot of damage and he should be fine. But, one too many can be a bad idea.

As discussed in the article, not only are hot dogs unhealthy for your pooch because they are made from processed meat, are high in calories, fat and sodium and also contain garlic and onion powder that can be toxic for your dog, but also, the shape and size of the hot dog can be a choking hazard, especially if your pet swallows his food without chewing it.

While it may be fine to give your pooch a hot dog on a rare occasion, there are loads of healthy treats that are pooch appropriate and can be healthier for your pet. Your vet clinic or pet store is sure to have healthier treats that you could stock up on to feed your pet, while you’re eating a hot dog. Also, if you do give him a hot dog, make sure to cut it into small pieces to prevent your pet from choking on it.

So, whenever you’re having a cookout and your pooch joins you, make sure to use your discretion before you begin sharing your hot dogs with him. Always remember that your pet will thrive and be healthy on dog food and any other food, including a hot dog, should be a rare treat.