You’ve made up a pan of bacon and now you’re looking to give your dog a treat by adding bacon or carbon grease to his kibble. Looking to know if it’s safe and/or a bad idea for his long-term health? You’re in the right spot!
Dogs should not eat bacon or bacon grease. Loaded with sodium as well as being an unhealthy fat, this a very low-quality food that can damage your dog’s health long-term. It can lead to obesity and pancreatitis. Even just a little bit can be enough to trigger these life-long conditions. Below, you’ll learn about its role in a dog’s diet, how much is too much, and what possible benefits it can do in very specific situations!
What is the danger in bacon grease for dogs?
Most of us have seen our grandparents or maybe our friends give dogs bacon grease, and dogs are certainly not complaining about getting a couple slashes of bacon or some grease on their food, right? Sure, many people do it with their own dogs with their weekly Sunday brunches. But that doesn’t mean that they should!
There are two main dangers of bacon and the bacon grease/run-off when it comes to your dog’s health:
- Sodium content
- Fat content
A dog’s digestive tract is not designed to handle high amounts of sodium. What a human would consider a “healthy dose of salt” (ie: salty, but not excessively-so) would be dangerous to a dog. An example of this would be french fries or cans of soup. The smaller size of your dog in combination with your dog’s ill-equipped digestive system makes it impossible for them to digest and leads to health problems.
When dogs overdose on their recommended sodium (which is very low compared to humans), it’s called sodium ion poisoning. This is as simple as it sounds and means that sodium is poisoning your dog.
Similarly, there is also a condition called bloat that can be life-threatening, brought on by sodium. When your dog eats salty food, he gets excessively thirsty and drinks and drinks and drinks to feel better. Since his stomach is full of grease and gas and now water, this leads to his other organs trying to move out of the way to make room for the swollen stomach. Bloat can very easily be fatal in your dog, and it can be brought on by (seemingly) low amounts of sodium.
Both of these get even more likely when your dog eats something that is excessively salty even to humans, such as pork rinds or bacon grease. Even small portions of anything like this can be very dangerous to your dog.
The other issue with bacon grease is that it is not a healthy fat content. It’s one of the worst ones, actually, as it’s so low grade that, in combination with the sodium, it’s sort of like a natural poison. It can lead to a flare-up of pancreatitis easily in dogs, and it could impact a dog’s pancreas’ function for the remainder of his life if it happens often enough.
While dogs do need fat content to help them enjoy a shiny coat and great, natural energy, it should come from the high-quality fat content. This is much the same with humans!
Can dogs eat bacon grease on their food?
Is your dog really giving you the puppy dog eyes when you dry up the bacon and pour the grease into a tub? In most cases, you should absolutely refuse to give your dog a nibble of bacon or a lick of bacon grease simply because it’s so, so, bad for him.
But, if it’s a special occasion such as Christmas or his birthday, you can make a tiny allowance! Tiny, of course, is the key point. You can safely drizzle a tiny amount of bacon grease over his normal kibble if you wish. To make sure that you portion safely, you should literally measure it so that it’s no more than a teaspoon (or less, if you have a smaller dog). If you want to make it go further on this food, mix it with water. The smell and flavor will still be stronger enough that your dog won’t even notice.
What to do if my dog ate a pan of bacon grease
Dogs can pull tricks on pretty quickly, including when we’re cooking. Did your dog lick clean a pan of bacon grease that was cooling on the countertop? Sure, he might be happy and licking his chops, but complications can set in quickly. Some of the most important symptoms to watch for that your dog may be having complications from his salty treat, include:
- Drinking constantly for hours
- Loss of appetite
- Dry heaving
- Excessive lethargy
- Pacing and uncomfortable
There are all signs that either the sodium content or the fat content (or both) are causing a complication in your dog. If you see any or all of these symptoms, you’ll want to get him into the vet as soon as you can. The sooner your catch any issues, the better the outcome!
Is there any situation where bacon grease is helpful?
So, despite what it may seem like right now, there are a handful of situations where tiny amounts of bacon grease are actually helpful for a dog. If you are in any of these situations, you can consider it as an option.
A long hike or active adventure
If you are heading out for a long hike or a big adventure where your dog is going to need an extra zip of energy, bacon grease can be great for giving them that extra little reserve! Just make sure he has plenty of access to water and that you only give him a tiny, tiny bit to prevent any complications like listed above.
Gaining the trust in a rescue dog
If you have a stray dog or a rescue dog that won’t eat, or come near you, a tiny bit of bacon grease can do the trick! Try drizzling a small amount over some food and you’ll often find the irresistible scent of it can encourage them to gobble down the food. Since he’s so malnourished, the grease’s danger would be minimum.
If you’re trying to get them in a kennel or into a leash pole to get them to safety, a touch of bacon grease on your fingers can distract them enough that they’ll get close enough to you for you to grab them, and/or slip the collar on over their heads. In this case, too, a few licks of grease won’t cause enough harm when compared to getting him to safety.
A pregnant/nursing dog
In situations where you have a malnourished pregnant or nursing mom, a touch of bacon grease on her food can be good. In this case, though, you’ll want to check with your vet first to check amounts and any possible side effects it could have on the puppies.
So, the consensus is that bacon grease is more dangerous than good when it comes to your dog’s overall health long-term. Be wary and very sparing if you do decide to give him some, and keep an eye out for any symptoms of complications!
Bacon grease is loaded with potentially fatal amounts of sodium and low-grade fat that can injure your dog even in small amounts, every once in a while. While it can be helpful earning trust in rescue dogs or helping give our dog a boost of energy when he needs it, bacon grease has more potential to hurt than help unless it’s a special treat on very, very rare occasions.
Did any of this surprise you? Are you terrified of your dog getting anywhere near bacon now? Share with friends and family and spread the word for dog safety everywhere!