Can Dogs Eat Lunch Meat?

By John Martin - September 13, 2022

Sliced lunch meat

Anything that’s made from grinding or chopping different parts of an animal is considered to be lunch meat. Usually, you will find that lunch meat is made of poultry, fish, lamb, beef or pork.

Sometimes, there is bone or blood added to them too. Doesn’t this make for a nice meal for your dog?

Not really and we’ll tell you why.

What’s Considered Lunch Meat?

The USDA states that most of the products that have the “lunch meat” label are from pigs and have parts from other animals added to them.

These food products also contain sugar, salt, spices and ice for taste and sodium nitrite for preservation and color. Then the meat is added to them and cured.

Once it is ready, the whole product is turned into a block or a loaf, smoked and cooked. And finally, it is packaged and sent on its way.

The Straight Answer

The simple answer to this question is that you should not be giving your dog deli meat regularly. That’s because cold cuts are mostly made of processed meat and the World Health Organization considers them to be carcinogenic or cancer-inducing.

There are other problems with lunch meats like high quantities of sodium, fat and nitrates. Let’s take a deeper look into what each of these ingredients can do to your canine’s digestive system.

We will also take a look at what’s to be done if they eat some accidentally.

Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs?

What’s the Problem?

Dogs belong to a scientific group called Carnivora which means they need to eat plant and animal foods. Of course, some animals in this category are purely carnivorous.

When it comes to the diet of your dogs, you need to make sure that it is balanced well with the right amount of fatty acids, amino acids, essential vitamins and minerals. The right composition of all these elements will make sure that your little guy is developing their tissues healthily and that the vital bodily functions are going on as per schedule.

Now, thanks to humans, over time, dogs have developed the ability to digest cooked food. So, what is the problem with deli meats?

While dogs can handle cooked meat, you really shouldn’t be pushing their buttons with processed meat. When you start feeding them cold cuts, their body gets exposed to ingredients that are not good for their digestive system.

Dogs have a much more sensitive system than humans. In fact, it is very different from ours which is why a lot of foods that we can digest can lead to catastrophic results when fed to our canine friends.

Here’s what’s wrong with giving your dog lunch meat.

Too Much Salt

Salt, in general, is not the greatest thing to feed a dog. Like humans, canines also need a little bit of salt to make sure that their cell functions carry on as usual.

But you don’t want to give them more because it very easily causes an electrolyte imbalance in canines. You should make sure that whatever salt your dog is getting is from natural food because it doesn’t take a lot of salt to cause this imbalance.

If you are getting them commercial dog food, you should give them high-quality food because those brands ensure that the amount of salt in their food doesn’t go over the recommended daily intake.

Now, when it comes to deli turkey, for instance, an ounce of this meat has up to 500 mg of sodium. And dogs can handle about 0.5 to 1.5 mg for 100 grams of their food.

There’s no way for you to know how much salt is in there even if you ask your deli person to reduce or remove salt from the equation entirely. See how quickly things can take a turn for the worse?

Too much sodium can cause problems with the nervous system, heart and kidney. And if your pet already has issues related to any of these organs, you might make things much worse.

Salt also makes dogs very thirsty and makes them pee a lot. This cycle is unhealthy and can cause dehydration which is, needless to say at this point, very dangerous.

Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Mustard?


Dogs need fat in their diet because it gives them energy and makes their food taste good along with making their skin healthy and coat shiny.

But the problem with lunch meats is that regular dog food already takes care of the amount of fat they need. So, when you give them a little extra because you don’t want to be mean, you’re actually being mean.

If your dog needs a lot of high-energy food, you might be okay by giving them a couple of scrapes once in a blue moon. But otherwise, you will be causing a lot of damage by giving your dog cold cuts.

A diet that is high in fats can also lead to pancreatitis. This will present itself by way of loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.


Nitrates are used to preserve meat and make sure its color doesn’t change. That’s a great little benefit for us humans but it’s not so good if your dog eats this food.

Nitrates are naturally found in leafy veggies but when you’re looking at cured or uncured deli meat, it’s a whole other thing. For 100 grams, cured meat has 500 mcg and uncured meat has 300 mcg of nitrates.

It’s also said to be bad for your dog’s heart in general.

So, you definitely want to keep this stuff away from your fur baby. But what happens if they accidentally have some?

You don’t need to rush to a vet. But you must be on the lookout for symptoms of diarrhea.

That can be dangerous because it can lead to dehydration. So, be very mindful.

You should change their food for a couple of days while their digestive system is getting better. Call your vet and ask if you need to give your dog any meds.

Also Read: Can Dogs Have Evaporated Milk?


You shouldn’t give lunch meats to your dog because they are high in salt, fat and nitrate content. None of that is good for your dog and will lead to digestive distress.