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Is Ham Healthy for Dogs?

Is Ham Healthy for Dogs?

Can dogs eat ham? Is it okay to feed a few pieces to your dog? Is it safe, or is it a big mistake? This DogAppy article takes an in-depth look into this very issue.
Priyanka Athavale
Holiday Blues
In a classic case of post holiday 'un'-merriment, many vets get the highest traffic of ill dogs after the festivities are over. The unintentional yet harmful feeding by owners, of various dishes and meats, to their furry family members causes them to rush to the emergency room soon after with a host of debilitating symptoms.
When the holiday season arrives, the table is laden with a delicious array of mouth-watering savories. Among these is the scrumptious comfort food – ham. Everyone is gathered around the table, friends, family, and another important member – the dog! As a dog owner, I know what it feels like to have your dog unleash the power of its eyes on you when you are eating something. The guilt you feel of not sharing is too overwhelming to bear, and your dog knows just how to work this to his/her advantage! As cute as it is, sometimes this situation can turn into an unpleasant one. Imagine that you are at the holiday dinner table; you feed your dog some ham out of guilt. A while later, you are running to the vet's with an even bigger guilt feeling and a very sick dog. Most owners know what I'm talking about; they have experienced this scenario. So is ham really that bad or can dogs eat it? The following paragraphs discuss this issue in detail.

Is Ham Good?

The answer is a firm no. Ham is not good for dogs at all. Although it may not cause any severe effects if your dog happens to siphon a small piece off the counter, its basic composition is very harmful. Ham contains high levels of sodium, which is bad for dogs as they cannot digest it. They are more sensitive to it than humans. Ham also contains high levels of fats; if your dog has weight issues, heart issues, or similar conditions, then it must be consciously avoided.

As ham is a form of pork, there is a greater chance of harmful bacteria or worms being present in it despite it being cooked or cured. Pork is not considered as white meat by many people either, and is not eaten as regularly as chicken or fish. Cooked ham is more harmful for dogs as it is seasoned. Smoked, salted, or otherwise cured ham is also bad for dogs, especially if fed in large quantities. Also, the type of protein present in ham is not of a very high quality. It does not do any good, and also makes the ham more difficult to digest.

Health Problems

The following are some health issues that dogs can experience due to overconsumption of ham. If you see your dog displaying any of the following symptoms, then contact the vet as soon as possible.

Vomiting and Diarrhea
Your dog may begin throwing up in the house a few hours after consuming the ham. He/she may also experience diarrhea/stomach upset and have 'accidents' around the house.

Your dog may appear depressed, unenthusiastic, and in general disinterested in everything. If you feel that your dog's mood seems off, then keep a lookout for other symptoms.

Consuming too much of salty and fatty ham can cause the dog's pancreas to inflame. Secretion of pancreatic juice might cause the dog's body to digest its own pancreas and also cause damage to other internal organs! This can lead to death.

The salt content in ham will cause your dog to drink water rapidly due to excessive thirst. In big breeds like Dobermans, Great Danes, GSDs, etc., the sudden water intake will cause a lot of air to be inhaled as well. This can cause the stomach to twist within a few hours; it can be potentially fatal.

Some dogs are allergic to certain meats. If your dog does not take well to ham, then he/she will display an allergic reaction like vomiting, a rash, itching, etc. Keep an eye out for any of these signs.

Internal Injuries
If your dog gets a hold of the ham bones and chews on them, they can splinter and cause serious injuries. They can also get lodged in the stomach or intestines and may have to be surgically removed.

Other Problems
Heart problems can occur with long-term consumption of fatty and salty foods. It can also lead to obesity, which in turn can lead to joint problems, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. It can also cause arthritis.

The Verdict

Ham is generally bad for your dog. However, it will not cause any problems if fed in small amounts once in a while. Ham and ham fat are generally unhealthy foods that are not really 'good'; ham is an excellent comfort food though. However, that is only for us, not for our dogs. Feeding a small piece or a little of the leftovers one time will not cause any serious problems to your dog, hopefully.

Each dog is unique, and so it is quite difficult to say what can happen after he/she consumes ham; the reaction of the body cannot be predicted. There are dogs who digest ham quite easily, while there are some who cannot tolerate even a small amount. Avoid feeding your dog ham as much as possible; feed him/her the specially-formulated dog food instead. Although it is high-priced, it still runs lower than the cost of future health problems.

This was all there is to know about feeding ham to dogs. Although established that it does not cause any harm in small quantities, it is still a pretty viable risk. So if you do decide to feed your dog some ham, then make sure it is unseasoned, cleaned of bones, and very little in quantity.