Can dogs eat bacon?

Health and Wellbeing

Bacon could very-well be the backbone of a British fry-up, alongside sausages, eggs, beans, black pudding and a few slices of toast. It smells amazing, tastes great, and the texture can suit any taste whether you like it chewy or crunchy. But that delicious aroma will almost always attract someone else’s attention, and you’ll have your hound at your heel begging for their own rasher. Although your pooch really, really wants to eat some, can dogs eat bacon? It’s certainly not the most healthy human food around, so is it just as unhealthy for your pup?

Can dogs eat bacon?

CAN DOGS EAT BACON?

The general consensus is that no, your dog shouldn’t eat bacon. This is the simplest and safest answer because there are a few risks that come with feeding bacon to dogs, and it is pretty unhealthy food. Plus, some individual dogs shouldn’t eat bacon at all due to allergies or other health conditions.

However, most healthy dogs can eat a little bit of bacon and be perfectly fine. Given how tasty bacon is, it’s no wonder most dogs will be sniffing the air and giving their best puppy eyes whenever you’re making a fry-up.

Bacon can be a very high-value treat since most pups go barking mad for the stuff. It’s got great texture, it’s full of flavour, and it smells delicious. (And since a dog’s sense of smell is between 10,000 and 100,000 times better than ours, it must smell positively divine to our furry friends!)

But there are a few reasons why your pup shouldn’t eat bacon except for a small piece as a rare treat.

Bacon is “safe” for dogs to eat and it is generally fine to let your pooch have a small slither of bacon, just don’t offer them a whole rasher and don’t feed them bacon often.

Arguably, we humans shouldn’t eat bacon too often either for the same reasons, since bacon is high in salt and fat. When we fry it, we’re adding even more oil and fat to the meaty treat. Salt and fat aren’t good for dogs, and they are more sensitive to these components than we humans are. Not to mention, eating too much bacon could lead to your pooch piling on the pounds.

Some dogs shouldn’t eat bacon at all though. For example, a pooch with pancreatitis should avoid eating bacon because the high-fat content could trigger a flare-up of their condition.

CAN DOGS EAT BACON RAW?

No, your dog shouldn’t eat bacon raw. Although raw bacon is technically “safe” for a dog to eat, it is more likely to make them sick. And just like any other raw pork product, there is the small potential that there are parasites or bacteria on the meat that could make your dog unwell. However, if your dog manages to eat a tiny scrap from the floor, they’ll probably be fine.

CAN DOGS EAT BACON FAT?

Technically yes, but they probably shouldn’t. Again, a tiny bit on occasion is probably perfectly fine for most healthy, adult dogs. However, this rich fat can cause gastrointestinal upset, especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach. Some dogs with underlying conditions should avoid eating fat, including any dogs on a calorie-controlled diet or those with pancreatitis, so bacon fat is a no-no.

CAN DOGS EAT BACON GREASE?

No, don’t feed your dog bacon grease. Again, it’s oily, high in fat, and very heavy on the stomach. It is pretty likely that bacon grease will upset your pooch’s stomach and cause gastrointestinal illness. If your dog has an underlying health condition affected by their diet or fat, you definitely should steer clear of spooning any grease onto their dinner.

CAN DOGS EAT PORK?

Yes, dogs can eat pork as long as the meat is cooked, served plain, and it’s only a small amount. There are better protein sources out there, like chicken and fish, which are more digestible and healthier for your pup to eat regularly. That is unless your pooch is allergic to pork. In which case, they shouldn’t eat any pork or pork products, including ham, bacon, and sausages.

IS BACON BAD FOR DOGS?

Yes, eating a lot of bacon or regularly eating bacon is bad for dogs, just like it is for humans.

Firstly, bacon is high in fat and depending on how you cook it, you could add even more fat by frying it in butter or oil. Dogs do need fat for energy, but this should be in the form of “healthy” fats, including polyunsaturated fats. These are sometimes called “functional” fats because they play an important role in your dog’s body but your dog cannot produce them on their own and so must have them in their diet.

Bacon however is packed full of saturated fat and cholesterol. Cholesterol and saturated fat doesn’t pose the same risks to dogs as it does humans, because it is not as likely to clog their arteries and it’s unclear if it causes heart disease with the same prevalence as in humans. However, these fats are more likely to be stored in the body, increasing your pooch’s risk of obesity. Obesity, in turn, can raise the risk of your dog developing other health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Too much fat can also cause pancreatitis, and dogs who have suffered from the condition previously will need to avoid fatty foods for the rest of their life. Your dog can get pancreatitis if they eat a lot of fat at once (acute), or they can develop the condition over time even if they only eat a few fatty foods regularly.

In addition, processed meats like bacon, salami, and sausages, have been identified as carcinogens with links to causing bowel cancer and higher risk of gastric cancer. (Conversely, red meat is the class below and “probably” causes bowel cancer.)

Finally, bacon is full of salt and preservatives, usually nitrates. Nitrates themselves are a salt, so bacon is just generally high in sodium. Although your dog needs some salt in their diet, too much can make your pup unwell and cause dehydration or even sodium poisoning.

This might all sound scary, but as long as your pup is healthy and eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, a little bit of bacon every now and then should be perfectly fine. Just like with humans, moderation is key.

CAN BACON KILL A DOG?

Not unless you’re very, very unlucky and your dog eats a lot of bacon at once, no, it shouldn’t kill your dog.

Bacon itself isn’t toxic, but eating a lot of it at once could be the catalyst in triggering a condition like pancreatitis or bloat which can put your dog at risk. Pancreatitis could be caused by eating a lot of fat, while your dog might become bloated if they drink a lot of water to quench the thirst caused by salt.

If your dog somehow manages to eat a whole packet of bacon, or eats some bacon and vomits or shows signs of illness, don’t feed them any more and contact your vet for advice.

Moderation is key to keeping your pup happy and healthy. As long as bacon is kept as a special treat, your pooch should be perfectly safe.

WHY DO DOGS LOVE BACON?

So if bacon isn’t healthy for your pooch to eat, why do they love it so much? Well, bacon isn’t very good for us humans either, and yet many of us love the stuff. Like a lot of the foods humans and hounds enjoy most, bacon is fatty and salty so it’s full of flavour. A bit like cheese, bacon is a non-toxic, high-value, and super tasty treat for your dog but it is not necessarily healthy.

RECAP: CAN DOGS EAT BACON?

Dogs can eat bacon but it isn’t very healthy, so should be avoided if possible. However, most dogs love the smell and taste of bacon, so it can make a very high-value reward for them or a special treat. But, it must stay that way and be just a treat. Your dog shouldn’t eat a lot of bacon or eat bacon regularly as it can contribute to weight gain and has the potential to make your dog sick if they eat a lot at once.

So if you’ve had a cooked breakfast and your pooch has been a very good boy (or girl), you could cut off a little slither of bacon and offer it to them, and it usually won’t cause them any harm. Just don’t offer Fido a whole rasher, and don’t start giving your dog their own fry-up every week.

Although bacon is tasty, it's not very healthy. Your dog should be eating something that's both delicious and nutritious, like Pure! Containing meat, fruit and veggies, Pure is perfect for feeding your dog a wholesome, balanced diet.

Dr Andrew Miller BVSc MRCVS

Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS

Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.