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Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs? Understanding Benefits and Risks

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Picture this scenario.

The weather is hot while standing around the barbecue with family and friends.

Your pup, tempted by the delicious smell of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, is sitting at your feet, giving you the saddest eyes in the world.

Should you give it a piece of a hot dog?

Worse yet, you have masterfully plated your grilled-to-perfection hot dogs and hamburgers, but when walking to the table, a Ballpark frank rolls directly off the plate onto the ground.

Your dog makes a beeline for the fallen treasure as your heart skips a beat – can dogs eat hot dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs?

The short answer is hot dogs are not a good food choice for your pet.

Many hot dogs have potentially harmful ingredients, including sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate, sugars, artificial seasonings, and garlic or onion powder.

Sodium nitrate has been linked to cancer, while garlic and onion are known toxic substances to dogs.

However, the most concerning ingredient in hot dogs is their high salt content.

According to the National Academies of Science, the daily recommended amount of sodium for dogs is 200mg.

The average hot dog contains more than 500mg of sodium, so feeding one to your dog would be more than double the daily recommendation.

Hot dogs also are a choking hazard for dogs because of their shape.

Dogs may try to swallow them whole, causing them to get lodged in the back of the throat or trachea.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Hot Dogs?

So hot dogs are not a good food choice for dogs, but what about raw hot dogs?

Raw hot dogs are a poor choice for dog food because they contain high levels of bacteria that can upset their stomach.

If you insist on feeding your dog a hot dog, or a small chunk of a hot dog as a treat, ensure it is not raw.

Are Hot Dogs Safe for Dogs?

In general, hot dogs are not safe for dogs.

Hot dogs are not a poisonous or toxic substance – if your dog eats a piece or even the whole hot dog it will not be a life-threatening incident (eating an entire pack of hot dogs is another story).

But just because they can escape harm from eating them does not make them safe.

They also pose a choking hazard for dogs.

Should You Use Hot Dogs as Training Treats?

While hot dogs are not a poisonous substance for dogs, they do not make good training treats.

Because of their high salt, fat content, and other harmful substances, hot dogs can cause upset stomachs and GI problems.

Instead, reach for a healthy treat like apples, blueberries, or peanut butter.

What’s Dangerous About Hot Dogs?

Hot dogs are dangerous for dogs to eat for the following reasons:

  • Excess salt: Salt is the biggest culprit in hot dogs. Typical hot dogs can contain over double the amount of daily recommended sodium intake for dogs. Excess sodium can cause dehydration, high blood pressure, kidney problems, fluid imbalance, weakness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and seizures.
  • Excess fat and calories: According to the USDA, the average hot dog has a whopping 13g of fat. Excessive calories from fat can cause weight gain in your dog. Additionally, if too much fat is eaten too quickly it can cause serious conditions like pancreatitis, liver problems, or gallbladder problems.
  • Processed ingredients: Hot dogs often contain processed and artificial ingredients like sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate, and artificial seasonings. These substances are detrimental to health and can cause cancer with repeated consumption.
  • Toxic garnishes: We often top our hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, relish, and other seasonings that are harmful to dogs. These substances often have more sodium, sugars, garlic, and onion seasoning that are toxic to dogs.
  • Choking hazard: Hot dogs pose a choking hazard for dogs because of their shape and texture. Dogs may try to eat them whole, or a piece may get lodged in the back of their throat or trachea.
  • Additives: Hot dogs often contain numerous harmful additives, including corn syrup, potassium lactate, sodium phosphates, garlic and onion flavorings, maltodextrin, and ground mustard seed.  
  • Potential for upset stomach: Hot dogs can cause an upset stomach and GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Are There Any Health Benefits to Hot Dogs?

Hot dogs do not contain nutrients that are beneficial to health.

They do have a fair amount of protein – the USDA says the average hot dog has 11.7 grams of protein – but there are much healthier sources of protein for your dogs like lean beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and fish.

How Much Hot Dog Can a Dog Eat?

Ideally, your dog should not be eating any hot dogs at all.

However, your dog will likely be ok if it eats parts of or a whole hot dog.

If your dog eats more than a hot dog or two, it might be a good idea to check in with your veterinarian, given the risks associated with excess sodium and fat.

What If Your Dog Eats a Hot Dog?

If your dog eats a hot dog, there is no reason to panic.

You can provide extra water, monitor your dog for any new or unusual symptoms, and resume feeding it a regular canine diet.

If your dog eats a whole package of hot dogs, it could be an emergency.

Contact your veterinarian immediately or bring your dog to a veterinary emergency hospital.

The veterinarian may use the following techniques and procedures to treat poisoning:

  • Induced vomiting
  • Activated charcoal
  • IV fluids
  • Bloodwork monitoring
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Supportive care

What Are Healthy Alternatives to Hot Dogs?

Just because your dog can’t indulge in a charred Weiner doesn’t mean all grilled meats are prohibited.

There are safe and healthier alternatives, including plain, unseasoned grilled chicken, lean steak, lean ground beef, turkey, and lamb.

Make sure to always cook the proteins well because they can contain food-borne illnesses like salmonella.

You can also give your pup non-protein sources of healthy snacks like many fruits and vegetables, plain corn, unsalted peanuts, unsalted pretzels, and bits of whole bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aside from hot dogs, there are many other foods you may wonder about.

Here are the most common foods people question about giving to their dog.

Can dogs eat scrambled eggs?

Eggs are generally safe for dogs as long as they are cooked well, unseasoned, and free of fats and oils like butter or lard.

The preparation method, whether scrambled, poached, or hard-boiled, doesn’t matter.

Can dogs eat cheese?

Cheese is also safe for dogs to eat in small quantities. It is an effective training tool because dogs go crazy for it.

However, it is high in fat, so you should limit the amount of cheese.

Like hot dogs, excessive cheese consumption could cause pancreatitis or liver problems.

Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?

Cooked, unseasoned shrimp are safe for dogs to eat.

Shrimp is low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories, and high in protein, making them an occasional good snack for your dog.

However, they are high in cholesterol and should not be a regular food.

They also should not be consumed raw because they contain many pathogens.

Wrapping Up

Hot dogs are a high-sodium, high-fat, heavily-processed food with many unhealthy and possibly carcinogenic additives.

They also pose a choking hazard because of their shape and texture.

In general, hot dogs are not a good choice for your dog to eat.

Choose a healthier and safer food or treat that your dog will love.

If your dog happens to eat a hot dog that falls on the ground, it will likely be ok.

Provide extra water and monitor your dog for any new or unusual symptoms.

Be sure to contact your veterinarian or go to an emergency hospital if your dog becomes ill.

Leave a comment below if you have any additional questions about dogs eating hot dogs.

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