Can Dogs Eat Pork: Raw or Cooked?

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Hungry Dog Exploring Empty Ceramic Plate
Many owners are on the fence about feeding their four-legged friend pork. With a mixed response amongst our fellow dog owners, we’ve set out to settle the score; so, can dogs eat pork?

Should I Feed My Dog Pork?

The simple answer is yes, dogs can enjoy a pork treat as long as it is well-cooked and without seasoning - as common onion and garlic flavourings are not suitable for your pup’s consumption. However, pork must be approached with caution as not all pork-based products are suitable for your dog’s consumption.

For dogs, protein is a big part of their diet and most dot parents would not hesitate in handing over a chunk of pork or a small slice of irresistible bacon. However, while pork does have nutritional benefits, there are specific serving requirements to follow.

Sourcing Your Dog’s Pork

Pasture-raised, free-range pork has numerous nutritional advantages over-processed and factory-farmed pork meat. To ensure the pork you are buying for your dog is of good quality, you can look out for the Compassion In World Farming (CIWF) Foundation’s accredited welfare labels:

  • Soil Association Organic
  • Organic (UK origin)
  • RSPCA Assured
  • Free-range
  • Outdoor reared
  • Outdoor bred

Always remember, if you are introducing your dog to pork for the first time, ensure they are only fed small amounts, few and far between. Pieces of pork as an occasional snack should equate to more than 10% of your dog’s daily intake. All dogs should receive 90% of their nutritional value from their regular dog food.

Nutritional Benefits of Pork

Pork Chops Arranged On Chopping Board

Following these guidelines, your dog can benefit from specific nutritional benefits. Pork has a good amino acid profile, providing a balance of saturated and monounsaturated fats. And, of course, it is a rich source of protein

In addition, pork is also a great source of Omega-3 and Vitamin E.

Benefits Of Omega-3 For Dogs

Omega-3 is extremely beneficial for our four-legged companions as it acts as an anti-inflammatory supplement. By reducing swelling, Omega-3 is able to improve a dog’s mobility and any aching joints. Good levels of Omega-3 will also aid your pooch’s body to heal any wounds in the future.

However, not all pork contains the same amount of this healing nutrient. For example, in free-range pork, Omega-3 is 18-43% higher than in pigs bred in poor, confined conditions. Whereas, organic pork meat has 291% more Omega-3. 

Vitamin E For Dogs

A necessary, fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin E supports healthy muscles, heart health, immune system and nerves for dogs. While also supporting healthy skin and a luscious coat. 

Similarly, to Omega-3, levels of Vitamin E are much more prominent in free-range pork.

How To Feed Pork To Your Dog

Similar to carnivores, dogs are keen to get their teeth into any meaty treat, but you have to be careful. Pork that has not been properly sourced or prepared can be dangerous to your dog, posing choking hazards and the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort and illness.

Dangers Of Pork Bones

Most dog owners are already aware of giving their dog small bones to chew on due to the choking risk they pose, but cooked bones are even more hazardous for your pup. When bones are roasted, their structural integrity breaks down and these bones are prone to splintering. Bone splinters will always present a choking risk; however, if swallowed they are also able to cause internal tears in a dog’s digestive system.

To reduce this risk, avoid all cooked bones from pigs and other animals. Instead, source your dog’s bones from a reputable pet shop.

Risk Of Raw Pork

Just as humans must avoid raw and undercooked pork, so must your dog. Raw pork is known for containing the parasitical infection, trichinosis, leading to intense gastrointestinal problems. Undercooked pork also contains this risk. 

Trichinosis is when the parasitic worm enters the body via your gastrointestinal system, making its way to the muscles. The infection phase lasts between 7 to 10 days, after which the larvae begin spreading around the body. If the parasites reach the heart, cardiac symptoms can occur. 

While trichinosis is not a life-threatening condition, it is extremely distressing and uncomfortable for your dog. To reduce the risk of this infection, all pork must be thoroughly cooked and never served pink. 

Symptoms Of Gastrointestinal Upset

Poorly Dog With Gastrointestinal Upset

If your dog has eaten raw pork and has ingested the trichinosis parasite infection, it will display particular symptoms of gastrointestinal upset, known as gastroenteritis. Similarly, if your dog has eaten low-quality or processed pork, it will also show signs of a severely upset stomach. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Infrequent or frequent vomiting
  • Nausea, often displayed by excessive licking of lips or the air
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in their stool
  • Fever or a temperature
  • Gulping, associated with excessive acid reflux
  • Pale gums
  • No appetite
  • Tiredness and lethargy

If your dog shows any of the above symptoms or you have cause for concern regarding their health, do not hesitate to contact your local vet. 

Is Processed Pork Safe?

Sausages Cooking On A Grill

Processed pork, including certain sausages and bacon, are full of wheat products, chemical preservative and artificial flavourings. When these ingredients enter your dog’s digestive system, they can cause gastrointestinal upset, sickness and diarrhoea. This is due to the poor quality of pork that is used to create these, often cheaper, products. 

Products that contain pig’s ears also should be avoided due to the roasting, boiling and smoking processes that are used to eradicate salmonellosis. For your dog, these methods can cause intestinal blockage and pose bacteria hazards.

Moreover, a lot of processed pork also contains seasonings that are not appropriate for your dog’s digestive system. For example, salt, onion and garlic flavourings are toxic to dogs and can have a devastating effect on their red blood cells. Even when cooking free-range pork for your dog, this must be cooked separately from any pork you intend to eat, and far away from oils, spices and sauces. 

Are All Parts Of A Pig Safe For My Dog To Eat?

If you take into consideration where your pork comes from and thoroughly cook any meat cuts, pork can be a tasty treat for your dog. The majority of pork cuts are safe for your dog to eat, including organs. In fact, animal organs are extremely nutritious for your dog, but as they are extremely rich, only small quantities are recommended.

Safe organs include:

  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Spleen
  • Pancreas
  • Lungs
  • Brain
  • Heart 
  • Eyes
  • Reproductive Organs

Additional pork meat cuts, tongue, tail and cuts on the bone, including neck and ribs are also safe. Please be aware of the size of the bones and whether your dog is at risk of choking. 

What About Frozen Pork?

Freezing pork is a widely acknowledged way to kill off any parasitic bacteria that may be present. Storing pork at sub-zero temperatures for a prolonged period of time, at least three weeks, will slow down and break down the bacteria, sterilising the piece of pork. 

In addition to the previously discussed trichinosis bacteria, freezing will also destroy other parasites including, lungworms, kidney worms, whipworms, roundworms and nodular worms. These parasites are much less common to affect your dog, however.

If the idea of giving your dog a chunk of frozen pork to munch on a hot day doesn’t sit right with you, simply stick to cooked, well-sourced pork. You can always add in freezing your dog’s pork before cooking it through, to be doubly sure it is safe for consumption. 

While pork is full of protein, did you know your dog can get its protein from other sources? At Bug Bakes, we have created a dog food full of insect-based protein. A sustainable but tasty alternative for your pup, designed to provide your dog with all the energy they need from a healthy alternative. With Bug Bakes, your dog will love dinner times.

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