Why Dogs Can't Eat Hot Dogs



Family barbeques and get-togethers are a lot of fun and a great way to socialize your fur baby. These social occasions include lots of smells and foods for everyone to enjoy, but are not necessarily the best spread for your pooch. Hot dogs can be a choking hazard as well as a health hazard for your pup and are best avoided at all times. Should your dog absolutely go gaga over them, there are some you can consider as a high reward treat. And if he sneaks one, take heart that he should be okay in the long run as well.

The Root of the Behavior

Depending on the size of your dog, he may make it a habit to scarf down foods whole, especially if he has snuck them on the sly or been quietly drooling watching you eat. Because of its size and shape, a hot dog can easily become a choking hazard for your hungry dog. The mystery meat can become lodged in his throat, and because of its length and girth, can fill up his passageway, blocking any air. Dogs cannot tell you they are choking, and an intact hot dog can be difficult to remove even with a Heimlich maneuver. Hot dogs are a choking hazard for children, even when cut into small pieces, for much the same reason. They can be quickly scarfed and swallowed with minimal chewing but then become lodged in the throat.

Hot dogs are fun summertime foods enjoyed by all. The basic hot dog, however, is full of processed meats, artificial colors, artificial flavors, nitrates, nitrites, and fat. The average hot dog has more than 500 mg of sodium. This is more than twice the recommended amount per day for a dog weighing roughly thirty-three pounds. Exceeding recommend sodium limits can increase your dog’s chances of dehydration as well as put him at risk for cardiovascular disease. Hot dogs also contain artificial ingredients that your dog’s digestive system cannot handle. The summertime treat also often contains ingredients for flavoring including onion and garlic powders, which can be toxic to dogs. The processed meat tends to be high in fat and calories, with the typical hot dog having 300 calories and 17 grams of fat. Neither of which is recommended for dogs in large amounts, especially those that are older, obese, or more sedentary. Hot dogs also tend to come in a bun, and the buns tend to be full of processed carbohydrates and sugar, neither of which is recommended for a dog of any age or size.

Encouraging the Behavior

There are high-quality meats on the market that are a more appropriate option should you wish to share your barbeque experience with your pup. Many of the organic brands are made with pure beef or pork, do not have any artificial ingredients that are dangerous to your pup’s digestive system, and their quality ingredients balance out the possible negative effects of fat and calories. Butchers often make their own sausages and hot dogs on site, so be sure to discuss with him or her what ingredients he or she has put in the meats prior to placing them in their casings. You still need to avoid any ingredients such as garlic, onions, or hot peppers that can cause digestive upset or possible poisoning to your dog’s digestive system. Make sure to fully cook the meat as raw meat also can carry bacteria that can make your dog quite ill. Cutting the hot dog into small non-choke able bites is highly recommended. Trainers will also recommend you reserve giving him this meaty treat as a high-value reward rather than as a daily meal or treat. Should your dog begin to drink more water after eating the hot dog, consider using a brand that is lower in sodium. Make sure to supply him with plenty of water to accommodate the added thirst from the hot dog consumption. Monitor him as well for any intestinal upset such as constipation or diarrhea, which can occur from ingesting too many processed ingredients at once. If you fear your dog is choking, contact your veterinarian immediately and take your pup to an ER vet near you.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Sharing food is one way humans show kindness and create bonds. You may feel that giving your dog tastes of your food is a way to earn his love and trust. It is also helpful when training to find high reward treats to motivate your pet to obey. However, there are many foods that are not good for dogs and can be toxic, that you need to limit or avoid in order to protect your pooch. These foods include but are not limited to grapes and raisins, citrus, avocado, chocolate, caffeine, Xylitol, alcohol, yeast dough, coconut and coconut oil, macadamia nuts, undercooked meats and eggs, cooked bones that can splinter, fat trimmings, onions, chives, garlic, snacks that are high in sodium, and high fat cheese and dairy to name a few. Better choices are lean unprocessed meats, whole fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, and hard cheeses all in moderation and used as high-value treats to reward them during training.


Dogs would love to chow down on some tasty hot dogs, so they may beg you to try some and perhaps sneak some when you are not looking. Because of their size and shape, and a dog’s tendency to inhale food without chewing, they can be a choking hazard. Hot dogs are made from processed meat, high in fat, calories, and sodium; none of which are good for dogs. They also often contain garlic or onion powder that can be toxic. Because of the high salt content, they can cause abdominal distress and dehydration as well. While it is okay to give your pup a hot dog on occasion, there are plenty of other more healthy choices to offer him on a more regular basis.