Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs?
A hot dog seems like the perfect food to feed a hungry canine. After all, it even has the word dog in it. And besides, a hot dog is basically just a cheeseburger anyway, right?
Wrong. Dogs shouldn’t be eating hot dogs. Maybe a bite of a dog now and then is perfectly fine, but no matter how big or hungry a dog is – dog as in animal! – they shouldn’t be munching down hot dogs. Not only are hot dogs filled with junk that dogs shouldn’t ingest, they’re also usually filled with junk that people shouldn’t ingest.
In fact, the unhealthiness of hot dogs isn’t really up for discussion. It’s pretty well proven at this point. Let’s take a look at the top reasons hot dogs are not good for pets, especially not for puppies.
Hot Dogs & Preservatives
The worst part of a hot dog is the preservatives that go into extending the shelf life of the product. In particular, sodium nitrate and potassium nitrite. These chemicals sound nasty, and that’s because they can be. And yet they are found in almost all cured meats, from bacon to lunchmeat, smoked fish to hot dogs. The stuff is even found in some commercial dog food.
These preservatives aren’t in themselves wildly dangerous. After all, nitrates are found naturally in a lot of fruits and vegetables like celery and carrots. Nitrates are a normal part of some diets.
The issue is too much of these compounds being ingested by your dog over a long period of time. This can eventually cause toxicity and even cancer. People shouldn’t really eat huge amounts of preserved food for this very reason and neither should dogs.
Hot dogs taste really good for a reason. It’s not just the meat. Often, hot dogs include some kind of artificial sweetener, and sometimes hot dogs can contain MSG. MSG is a weird compound that works kind of like artificial sweeteners to make food taste better. But MSG is also linked to obesity and diabetes and can be horribly toxic.
Then there’s the worst ingredient of all: salt. There is a lot of salt in a single hotdog, up to 700 milligrams. If your dog weighs 33 pounds, they don’t need any more than 200 milligrams of salt every day. That means a single hot dog will push them way over their limit. And if they’re stuffing their face with hot dogs every day, all that salt adds up and can lead to an increase in blood pressure, uncomfortable bloating, excess thirst, and even diarrhea and vomiting.
Dogs Can Choke on Hot Dogs
Another reason hot dogs are not ideal for pets is that they are a serious choking hazard. Forget the preservatives, the sweetener, and the salt – none of that will matter if your dog chokes and dies. As grim as that is to say, it is a thing that happens, and it’s devastating when it does.
As you’ve probably seen a dog eat before, you know they aren’t the politest eaters. Dogs typically stuff food into their mouths as quick as they can. When they do that with hot dogs, the thin sausages of meat can get clogged inside your pet’s throat. Because hot dogs are shaped so wiener-like, and because of their texture, they can be very difficult to get out of your dog’s throat when they’re choking.
How do you know if your dog is choking? Besides the obvious, you may notice them pawing at their mouth, making squeaks and high-pitched noises, and struggling to breathe.
If you absolutely must feed your pet hot dogs, be sure you cut them into small pieces. This makes it easier to eat, ensuring your dog won’t choke.
What Happens if My Dog Eats a Hot Dog?
If your dog accidentally eats a full hot dog – and let’s say it’s the worst-case scenario and they managed to eat the bun, the relish, the mustard, and the ketchup too – there’s no need to immediately panic.
If your dog has never had any of these ingredients before, chances are they’ll have a very upset stomach. If the hot dog itself doesn’t upset their belly, it’ll be all the greasy condiments. Still, a single hot dog will not kill your pet or require an emergency trip to the veterinarian.
Instead, watch your dog closely. They will probably be a little lazy for the next few hours since their stomach might hurt, but they might be totally fine. The only time to worry is if your dog somehow got into a whole package and ate like 20 raw dogs. That wouldn’t be great.
Hot Dogs for Dogs
We’ve primarily been talking about ordinary hot dogs that you get at the supermarket, but there are better hot dogs that are perfectly fine for pets to eat. For example, high-quality turkey hot dogs are made from whole meat and are much better for dogs. Your veterinarian still probably wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s a much better option.
And of course, you can always check the ingredients first. Top-quality hot dogs won’t come packed with so many unhealthy preservatives or seasonings. If the hotdog is made from a whole meat like pork, chicken, or turkey, and if there are no nasty ingredients like garlic or onion powder, you can feel a lot better about giving your pup a hot dog treat.
How Many Hot Dogs is Too Many?
More than one hot dog at a time is too many. Hot dogs should only be fed to animals every now and then, and only in moderation. Hot dogs are better used as treats and shouldn’t make up any large percentage of your pet’s diet.