Despite our own preferences when it comes to meat in our personal diets, it’s a scientific fact that dogs are carnivores with bodies designed to perform better when fed a high-protein, meat-based diet. In the wild, dogs do eat a small amount of vegetables, grass, and other roughage and most vets agree that these items can account for up to 30% of Fido’s total intake. For the most part, however, your dog should eat food that contains high-quality meat. And as the old saying goes, variety is indeed the spice of life.
While modern innovations allow us to shop at the pet food store for various flavors, brands or protein sources for our dogs, in the wild dogs often had to eat whatever game they came across. Typical proteins would have been beef, chicken or fowl, fish, and even pork. While a natural part of your dog’s diet, pork has gotten a bit of a bad rap when it comes to owners choosing the protein source over others. Here we delve into the tricky topic and talk about the pros and cons when it comes to feeding your pooch pork.
Pork stacks up well next to other common protein sources normally fed to dogs. Pork has a similar fat content to beef and is generally well digested by your dog’s system. Pork is one of the most widely eaten proteins on the planet, which makes it readily available and relatively inexpensive compared to other types of meat. Pork protein can be a vital part of your dog’s diet promoting healthy weight, digestion and overall health.
While pork is much like other proteins when it comes to the benefits for your pooch, there are a few drawbacks concerned pet owners should keep in mind. First, when fed in high quantities, pork fat can be difficult for your dog to digest. Too much pork fat can lead to digestive issues, stomach upset, or even pancreatitis, a chronic condition causing diarrhea, vomiting, and more. Owners that want to feed their dogs pork should steer clear of fattier cuts or trim off excess fat before feeding. As with all food items, moderation is also best, especially when introducing dogs to pork for the first time.
Another issue to consider when feeding your dog pork is parasites. For many years, pigs were susceptible to a type of worm known as Trichinella. Eating raw pork infected with this parasite would cause trichinosis in both dogs and humans, which would, in turn, create a host of health problems. Modern pork raised by reputable farmers rarely become infected by Trichinella, however. The parasite is also highly susceptible to heat and cooking your dog’s pork meal before serving it up will kill off the worm and help alleviate any concerns.
It’s important to note that not all pork products are created equal. Pork found in the butcher section that hasn’t been cured, processed, or otherwise altered from its original state is best. Processed meats such as sausage, deli-meats, and hot dogs often contain seasonings and spices that can irritate your dog or, in high doses, even be toxic. If you must feed these items, stay away from those that contain onion or garlic as these are especially harmful for dogs. Highly processed meats such as bacon or lunch meats also contain large amounts of salt. Just like in humans, excess sodium is no good for Fido and adding it to the diet should be avoided.
Overall, pork is a safe and healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Pork has many of the same properties as other protein sources such as beef and chicken and would have been a regular part of your dog’s diet in the wild. When shopping for store bought pork, owners should try to avoid overly processed pork products and consider cooking their dog’s pork before eating if there is any concern about parasites or worms. So, if Fido snatches a bit of your pork chop dinner or that unguarded hot dog at the next family picnic, never fear. Pork is a generally safe and healthy option in your pooch’s diet when given in moderation.