Dog smelling ham slices on a cutting board

Can Dogs Eat Ham? Yes, But…

You might believe dogs to be carnivorous creatures, but they are considered omnivorous! But can dogs eat ham?

Unlike humans, many forms of food can be considered toxic for dogs. Check every time you feed your dog something new. Certain meats can be toxic to your four-legged friend because of additives or flavorings. Onion powder and garlic powder, for example, can be toxic and require a vet visit. We have a whole list of what house foods dogs can eat – but let’s look at ham specifically.

Can Dogs Eat Ham?

Yes, but there are many things to consider before you toss your pal a piece of sliced ham from your sandwich or Easter lunch.

Ham has enough sodium to cause issues not only for humans but dogs as well. If your ham is store-bought, then Fido is likely sinking his teeth into his fill of sodium for a long time.

That, and ham has sodium-based nitrites and nitrates that can cause problems for your dog. Too much salt for your dog can be toxic. You’re also looking at the possibility of kidney damage, seizures, and death due to too much salt.

Are There Any Safety Concerns Feeding Ham to My Dog?

If sodium concerns aren’t enough for you, then know that feeding your dog uncooked ham can also be a recipe for disaster. Uncooked meats carry the possibility of foodborne illnesses that can wreak havoc on your dog.

Hams, especially holiday hams, can also contain flavorings that can be toxic to dogs. While it might be fun to feed the pup from the table during Christmas dinner, too much ham can be a problem.

How Much Ham Can I Feed My Dog?

Have you heard of moderation? That’s the most important thing we can stress here. You may want to consider feeding your dog low-sodium ham only as a treat every once in a while. Be sure you cut the ham into bite-sized portions to reduce the risk of choking. A small serving size can be sprinkled in with your dog’s regular meal without issue.

How to Prepare Ham for Dogs

A piece of low-sodium ham from the deli counter or your grocery store’s meat section can be easily torn to manageable shreds for your dog to eat straight from your hand. If the ham is cooked, you’ll want to make sure it’s been cooked to an appropriate temperature of 145 degrees to reduce the likelihood of foodborne illnesses.

Tips from Our Vets

The following is a list of tips on how to think about what human foods are (and may not be) safe for your dog from Dr. Jennifer Coates’ article on Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat.

There are some human foods that dogs can eat safely, as well as some human foods dogs can’t eat.

If you have a dog, you might be used to seeing adorable puppy eyes begging for a bite of, well, anything that you happen to be eating.

While it’s natural to want to share human food with your furry pal, many of the foods we eat are toxic to dogs. Some reasons foods may be harmful to your pup include:

  • Foods that are a problem due to our physiological differences (foods we can handle that a dog’s stomach can’t)
  • Other foods aren’t toxic, but are still potentially dangerous for dogs because they are hard to digest
  • Another category of foods that are a problem for dogs are foods that may contain high levels of fat

Some tips and words of caution if you are feeding your pet human foods:

  • Always keep in mind that new foods of any kind, including switching to a different dog food, can cause stomach upset.
  • When you find a human food you’d like to share with your pup, go slowly. Give small amounts at first and watch for any problems like vomiting or diarrhea before giving more.
  • Remember that treats should make up less than 10% of your dog’s diet. So all of the foods that are safe for your dog should be given in moderation to avoid weight gain and nutrient excesses and deficiencies.

What To Do if Your Dog Eats Something He Shouldn’t

Now that you know what foods are safe for dogs, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your pup eats food that’s toxic to dogs.

If your dog does end up eating something he shouldn’t, try not to panic. You have a few options for getting the help your dog needs:

  • The first is to call your dog’s veterinarian, who can advise you to either come into the office or to watch for signs of poisoning, obstruction, or other potential problems.
  • If it’s after hours, you can try calling an emergency veterinarian.
  • Another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

In some cases, you might be told to induce vomiting in your dog. It is helpful to keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case you need to do this.

Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian or someone from one of the pet poison control hotlines advises you to do so, however, because in some cases, vomiting can make the situation worse. [efn_note]Is it ever safe to induce vomiting? ASPCA.org. November 19, 2019. Accessed April 28, 2021.[/efn_note]

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to think about giving your dog a little slice of ham as you finish your sandwich at lunch. There’s no harm in this, provided you’re not doing it daily and you’re practicing moderation.

Still, know that ham is high in fat content, which can be an issue down the road when your dog is older. Just like humans, too much fat can cause cardiovascular and weight issues for your dog (if you’re not sure about the desired weight for your pup we have a tool that can help you answer the question “how big will my new puppy be?”). Keep these things in mind, and your pup can enjoy a piece of hammy goodness as a treat!

If you’re looking for more information about which human foods are (and aren’t) safe for your dog to eat, check out our series of guides below:

Can Dogs Eat Asparagus? Can Dogs Eat Cantaloupe? Can Dogs Eat Kiwi? Can Dogs Eat Pineapple? Can Dogs Eat Shrimp?
Can Dogs Eat Avocados? Can Dogs Eat Cauliflower? Can Dogs Eat Lettuce? Can Dogs Eat Pistachios? Can Dogs Eat Tuna?
Can Dogs Eat Beans? Can Dogs Eat Celery? Can Dogs Eat Mangoes? Can Dogs Eat Plums? Can Dogs Eat Turkey?
Can Dogs Eat Beets? Can Dogs Eat Cinnamon? Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows? Can Dogs Eat Popcorn? Can Dogs Eat Walnuts?
Can Dogs Eat Bell Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Coconut? Can Dogs Eat Oatmeal? Can Dogs Eat Pork? Can Dogs Eat Watermelon?
Can Dogs Eat Blackberries? Can Dogs Eat Fish? Can Dogs Eat Olives? Can Dogs Eat Radishes? Can Dogs Eat Yogurt?
Can Dogs Eat Blackberries? Can Dogs Eat Green Beans? Can Dogs Eat Peaches? Can Dogs Eat Raspberries? Can Dogs Eat Zucchini?
Can Dogs Eat Broccoli? Can Dogs Eat Ham? Can Dogs Eat Pecans? Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken? Can Dogs Eat Hot Cheetos?
Can Dogs Eat Brussel Sprouts? Can Dogs Eat Honey? Can Dogs Eat Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Salmon?
Can Dogs Eat Cabbage? Can Dogs Eat Ice Cream? Can Dogs Eat Peppers? Can Dogs Eat Seaweed?

Obviously you’re likely interested in the quality of your dog’s food and your pet’s health, in addition to having questions about what your dog can and can’t eat. We happen to have a ton of resources on these very topics!

One is our guide which will teach you how to add fiber to a dog’s diet, along with or our guide to choosing the high fiber dog food. If you’re looking into dog upset stomach we have a guide for that as well, and we can even help answer how long does it take a dog to digest food?. If you’re portioning your dog’s food you can also check out our guide to choosing the best automatic dog feeder.

We also have a series of health and nutritional information for your dog. Our dog weight calculator and our answer to how heavy should my dog be? can help you determine if your dog is the proper weight and size, and we even have a collection of breed-specific growth charts such as our goldendoodle growth chart, great dane growth chart, golden retriever growth chart, chihuahua growth chart, or our labrador growth chart.

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.