Can Dogs Eat Pork Rinds? Are Chicharrones Good For Dogs?

Can Dogs Eat Pork Rinds? Photo of a dog looking at a bowl of pork scratching aka pork crackling

There are so many tasty foods out there that many of us want to share with our furry friends. But, not all of them are going to be well-received by your dog, including pork rinds. Below, here’s everything you need to know about pork rinds and the potential dangers they pose for your furry friend!

Dogs should never eat pork rinds. The pork itself is fine for dogs, but pork rinds — whether they go by the name of chicharrones, scratchings, crackling, or pork skin — are not good dog treats. They are fried and loaded with all sorts of bad ingredients, such as non-nutritional fat, salt, and other seasonings. This may cause sickness to your dog which eventually can lead to an expensive vet bill for you!

Still, tempted to share your salty treat? Get familiar with what goes in pork rinds, how they’re dangerous for your dog, and what you can do instead that they’ll love even more!

How safe are pork rinds for dogs?

The main thing here is getting familiar with what we mean by pork rinds. Whether they’re fried in a pan or grill, or deep-fried, pork rinds are a combination of pork skin and usually the fat and other “good stuff” that humans love. The keyword here, of course, is “humans.”  

No matter how they’re fried, these are designed for human guts and human taste buds. Sure, they smell divine to your dog, too, but they are going to end in serious pain for your dog. Here’s the breakdown on why:

  • The parts of the pork used
  • Frying/cooking
  • Seasonings and spices

The parts of the pork used

As we’ll discuss in a little bit, serving raw pork rinds, or pork skin, to your dog isn’t a totally terrible idea. However, pork rings or scratchings are something entirely different. Instead of it just being the skin, it’s often skin, gristle, fat, and other sinewy bits that all blend together to be a fatty, tasty treat for humans. No matter where you buy pork rinds, they will always be some blend of those pieces.

Frying/cooking

Then there’s the cooking and frying process. Pan or grill frying includes oils and sprays to help them stay stick-free and moving around as they fry up. None of those are good for doggies. The same goes for deep frying, especially since that’s even more oil and fat used to help the deep frying process (anyone else feeling kinda hungry?).

Seasonings and spices

Of course, pork rinds are as much about the seasonings as they are about the frying, right? Whether you go with classic salting, BBQ flavor, or something sweet like cinnamon sugar, none of these are good for your dog. In fact, a lot of the undisclosed ingredients in these seasonings (including salt, onion, garlic, and chocolate) are toxic to dogs. The seasonings are thought to be the worst part of the crackling when it comes to feeding it to your dog.

What will happen if my dog eats pork rinds?

We get it. You’re enjoying a special treat for yourself and your dog is staring at you with those eyes. Feeling pity and unable to resist his perfect puppy dog pout, you give him a corner to chomp down on before you finish your snack. It’s okay, we’ve all been there, and the puppy dog pout is something that all pet parents can relate to.

Just because your pup has had a corner of a pork rind doesn’t mean that he’s going to die. Even in the case of seasoning with salt or even nutmeg and cinnamon, it isn’t a death sentence. Of course, you’ll want to keep an eye on your dog to see if he’s having any kind of adverse reaction — just like you would with any other human food that he gets — and try not to make it a habit of it. The other thing would be to make sure that he only has a corner that is free from seasonings if at all possible, and only just a tiny little bit (rather than an entire bowl full).

What can happen if a dog eats pork rinds regularly?

Your dog simply can’t eat pork rinds regularly. He can’t handle the fat, the grease from cooking, the salt, and other seasonings, etc. He’ll either be dealing with a bad stomach upset or potentially something more serious, requiring intervention from a vet to help get him back to his usual self. That’s the best-case scenario, of course. We don’t need to tell you what the worst-case scenario is!

The reason that dog food and treats are so bland compared to human versions is that doggie taste buds and digestive systems have different needs. What’s bland and boring for you, is delicious and tasty for your dog ! Besides, you do have other options…

What can I feed my dog instead of pork rinds?

If you really want to make your dog something special for his birthday or another special occasion, you absolutely can do just that using pork. Pork is a core part of your dog’s diet, after all, and dogs can eat pork skin –aka pork rinds — without a problem. The key thing, of course, is to properly cook pork rinds for your dog!

How to make pork rinds for my dog

There are two approaches that you can take to making some delicious, dog-friendly pork rinds. These are:

  • Boil and bake
  • Bake

The first step is the same and is an important focus for the “dog-friendly” part. When preparing the pork skin, make sure you trim off everything except the skin. Fat, meat, gristle, everything. You can save those for yourself if you want. What you prepare for your dog should be just the skin.

Boil and bake pork rinds

Boil a pot of water and put your skins in. Keeping the water boiling the entire time, let them sit for an hour. Put your boiled pork rinds into a colander and let them cool and drain completely. 

With your oven at 170 degrees F,  place the skins on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 hours. If you want to speed it up, flip them over once or twice! It’s important to keep the temperature low, as this is what’s going to dehydrate them naturally and give them that crunch without any of the oil!

You know they’re done when you can remove them from the oven and they snap in your hands, rather than bend. They should be very dried out and perfect for crunching on. Feel free to sample, if you want to be sure!

Let the pork rinds cool completely and then snap them into small bite-sized pieces for your dog before you give them to him. Even though they’re free from salt and seasonings, etc, still keep his portion small.

Baked pork rinds

If you’re looking for the same safe way to cook pork rinds, but you don’t have 13 hours to kill, we feel you. This is a little faster and simpler.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Put a light pan spray (or parchment paper) onto your cookie sheet and then put your pork skin on the pan. Remember to skip the seasonings, though you may find yourself itching to put some salt on it — these are for your dog, not you!

Bake the skins for 3 hours or so, keep an eye on them to watch for the same bending versus snapping, just to be sure they’re cooked enough.

Let them cool completely, snap into small pieces, and then serve in small portions to your dog.

What else should I know about pork rinds and dogs?

Pork rinds are a dangerous food because so many people think that they’re “just a little treat” for their dogs to have with table scraps. Many people have been giving their dogs pork rinds and table scraps for years and years “with no problem”.

The thing is, our pooches are exceptionally good at hiding their discomfort and pain. They’re so food-motivated that of course, they’re going to scarf down a pork rind that you offer them! But, much like with our own diets, really, pork rinds are all bad ingredients and they will come back to cause serious harm and discomfort to your dog, no matter how much he may beg for them.

As dramatic as it may sound, stubbornly feeding human-produced pork rinds to your dog is actually a form of harming them, much the same as feeding them table scraps. It’s our job as responsible pet parents to make sure that we are always protecting our dogs in their overall quality of life. If we want them to have happy, healthy lives, pork rinds are not the answer!

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