Although dogs are omnivores, they require a significant amount of protein in their diets to stay healthy. And while we might think of sausages as a tasty meaty treat, are they suitable for our furry friends to enjoy? Can dogs eat sausages safely or should they be avoided?
The discussion here isn’t so much about can dogs eat sausage as much as should dogs eat sausages. Yes, dogs can eat sausages, but they shouldn’t eat a lot of them and you definitely shouldn’t be using sausages as their main protein source. However, a few little pieces of sausage as a special treat should be perfectly fine.
Even we humans have to be wary of eating sausages regularly because it is processed meat that is typically high in fat, saturated fat, salt, and all the things we need to moderate in our diets. They’re not a healthy food and definitely aren’t good for humans or hounds no matter how tasty they are.
Not to mention, the ingredients and nutritional content of sausages vary a lot between brands, the kind of meat used, and the various flavourings added. It makes checking the label important just in case there are any ingredients inside that are toxic to dogs.
By the way, the same goes for Quorn sausages for any of you vegetarians out there!
The nutritional content of sausages is fairly limited too. Despite them being meaty, they aren’t a good source of protein. Many brands contain less than 50% pork.
If you want your pup to have a tasty treat that packs some protein, consider cutting up some lean meats like chicken, turkey, or fish for them. Stick to whole meats because these have greater nutrition, no added fat, salt, or flavourings, and the less processed they are the better for your dog they will be.
No, the difference between sausages and sausage meat is minimal and the same rules apply.
Sausage meat might contain higher amounts of pork, but it’s still high in fat and salt and will have added sulfites and flavourings which aren’t good for your dog to consume regularly.
Raw sausage meat can also carry pathogens like E. Coli or Salmonella which have the potential to make your dog pretty sick.
Dogs shouldn’t eat sausage rolls for the same reason they shouldn’t eat sausages. The meat is highly processed and full of fat and salt, and the pastry just adds more calories. It isn’t toxic though, so a tiny bit as a treat probably won’t do your dog any harm. However, you definitely shouldn’t give your dog their own sausage roll or offer them frequent scraps.
Whether you like garlic sausage, liver sausage, salami, chorizo, or even just a flavoured pork sausage, you should keep that as a human treat and shouldn’t share them with your dog.
Firstly, flavoured sausages have the same problems as regular breakfast sausages such as high amounts of fat and salt. However, flavoured sausages also run the risk of containing ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as nutmeg, garlic, or onions.
Dogs are pretty sensitive to seasonings and spices too, so a highly flavoured sausage is more likely to cause stomach upset.
First and foremost, sausage isn’t healthy for us humans to eat regularly, never mind our dogs. But while we might be able to tuck into a fry up with sausage, bacon, eggs and black pudding on as a treat, your dog definitely shouldn’t.
For a start, dogs are much smaller than people with much lower calorie needs, so feeding them a piece of sausage can use up a surprising amount of their recommended calories and fat for the day.
For example, a healthy 15kg medium-sized dog only needs about 640-800 calories per day. If your dog isn’t in ideal shape or is neutered, they will need the lower end of that range. Looking at different brands of sausages, a single pork sausage can contain anywhere between 111 to 176 calories. As you can see, that takes up a lot of your doggie’s daily calories in one snack!
Part of a sausage’s unhealthiness is also down to their high fat and salt content. Looking at one well-known brand, there’s 8g of fat, 3.4g of saturated fat, and 0.93g of salt per sausage. Dogs do need some fat and salt in their diet, but this should be from healthy sources and definitely not in such high amounts. A medium-sized dog of 15kg shouldn’t have more than 200mg of salt per day, so a single sausage is more than four times the amount they should eat!
Dogs with health problems that affect their heart, liver, or kidneys require a low-sodium diet to stay healthy. If your pooch has such a health condition, you should definitely not give them a sausage.
Processed meats like sausages, bacon, and hot dogs are known carcinogens, meaning they can cause cancer. Cancer affects dogs at a similar rate to humans, with 1 in 4 dogs being diagnosed with the disease generally, and the number rising to 1 in 2 for middle-aged or older animals. Making sure your dog doesn’t eat processed meats regularly should help to keep your furry friend healthy and reduce their risk of developing the disease.
Finally, many brands of sausage and sausage meats contain nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs. Although the amount in a sausage probably isn’t enough to seriously harm them, it’s another reason why your dog shouldn’t eat a whole sausage and shouldn’t eat sausages regularly. Garlic leeks, and onions (fresh or in powdered form) are other common ingredients that are considered toxic to dogs. And although a little might not do your dog any immediate damage, even eating a few little pieces every day for a few days can lead to anaemia and damage to their red blood cells.
While sausages are unhealthy, it isn’t toxic. And provided your pup only eats a very small amount on the odd occasion, it shouldn’t cause them any harm. So yes, your dog could eat a little bit of sausage as a very special treat. Don’t use sausage bits as your go-to training treat though, as they’ll end up eating a lot regularly. Save sausages for those times you need a really high-value reward.
If you’re looking for other high-value rewards and tasty treats to use while training your dog, you can try whole lean meat like chicken, or crunchy dog-friendly veggies like carrots. Even cheese can be a good choice for a valuable reward.
If you do let your dog sample a snifter of sausage, always keep it as a special treat and never a regular occurrence, and only feed your dog a few small pieces. You definitely shouldn’t let them eat a whole sausage as it will be too fatty and salty and could cause stomach upset including vomiting or diarrhoea. In the worst-case scenario, it might even cause pancreatitis which can endanger your pup’s life and affect their dietary needs long-term.
Technically, yes, dogs can eat sausage however it doesn’t mean that they should. While it might smell and taste good for your furry friend, it’s very fatty and salty which isn’t good for your dog’s health.
Dogs definitely shouldn’t be offered sausage regularly or in large amounts as it will probably make them sick and can increase their risk of illness ranging from obesity to pancreatitis and even cancer.
But, sausage isn’t toxic and so stealing a dropped piece or being treated to the occasional nibble shouldn’t do your hound any lasting harm.
Rather than feeding your pooch a fat-filled sausage, offer them a nutritious, natural and tasty meal such as Pure, which is packed with much healthier protein than a sausage. It's complete and balanced, brimming with wholesome goodness, while also being mouth-wateringly tasty too.
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.