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Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs? | Are Hot Dogs Bad for Dogs?

are hot dogs bad for dogs

Hot dogs are an all-American food seen at baseball games and cookouts throughout the country, but can dogs eat hot dogs too?  Would a bite of a hot dog be a fun treat for your pup at a summer cookout?  These are important questions that dog owners should ask before feeding their four-legged friends hot dogs as a treat or as part of their meals.  Read on to learn whether you can introduce this new cuisine into their diet!  

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Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs?  (The Short Answer)

Yes!  In short, dogs can eat hot dogs.  Hot dogs can provide a protein-rich snack for your pup!  That being said, like most foods, they should be given in moderation.  Keep in mind that hot dogs should be chopped into small pieces and used as a treat or a snack, not eaten whole as an entire meal.  Additionally, dogs should only have plain hot dogs without any condiments and preferably without a bun.  By following these guidelines and the advice throughout the article, you can introduce your furry friend to a fun new treat.  

It’s important to remember, that even with the best of intentions, accidents happen and dogs can easily eat things they shouldn’t.  Unfortunately, even if those accidents aren’t fatal, they can result in huge, unexpected veterinary expenses.  That’s why we recommend all responsible dog owners get a free, online pet insurance quote from Healthy Paws.

Are Hot Dogs Good for Dogs?  

We’ve already answered the question, “can dogs eat hot dogs?” Now, let’s learn about the benefits of feeding your dog this food! Are hot dogs good for dogs?

Hot dogs are not the most healthy food for humans, or dogs.  That being said, they do have some healthy aspects to them.  Hot dogs do provide a significant amount of protein.  Hot dogs generally contain between 5.5-10 grams of protein in them.  They also are a significant source of minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, iron, and zinc.  Depending on which type of meat is in the hot dog, chicken, pork, turkey, or beef there may be additional health benefits.  

To ensure you supply your pet with the most nutritious treat, you should opt for leaner meats such as chicken or turkey.  They still contain ample amounts of protein with less saturated fats.  Additionally, if possible, organic hot dogs are the healthiest option.  A major concern with giving your dog hot dogs is the added nitrates and preservatives.  Organic meats do not have nitrates or preservatives, both of which can be harmful to dogs.  

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Are Hot Dogs Bad for Dogs?

We’ve already answered the question, “can dogs eat hot dogs?” Now, let’s learn about the dangers of feeding your dog this food! Are hot dogs bad for dogs?

Similar to many foods we give our dogs, too much can be a bad thing.  Hot dogs can become unhealthy, or in some cases even dangerous if they’re not prepared correctly.  

Dogs can eat raw and cooked hot dogs but there is an additional risk if you choose to give your pup a raw hot dog.  While hot dogs are generally precooked before being put on grocery store shelves, there may still be some undercooked parts.  Undercooked meats can contain bacteria that can make you and your dog sick, so it’s safer if you opt to fully cook the hot dog before serving it to your dog.   

Hot dogs contain the preservative sodium nitrate.  Sodium nitrate has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.  Too much sodium nitrate is unhealthy for humans, so you can imagine that it can also be detrimental to dogs as well.  

Diets with excess salt aren’t healthy for humans and dogs alike.  Too much salt can cause dehydration, kidney problems, and increases in blood pressure.  According to the National Academy of Sciences, a 33 pound dog needs only 200 mg of sodium per day.  Compare that to the amount of sodium in a hot dog which is approximately 500 mg.  Even a half a hot dog would put a dog significantly over his sodium limit for the day.  This emphasizes the point that only a few bites of hot dog should be given to your dog to keep them safe and healthy.  

A lot of people garnish their hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, onions, or relish.  While these might be great options for humans, they’re not safe for dogs.  Onions can be toxic to dogs and should be avoided.  Additionally, the high sugar content and addition of unnecessary calories in ketchup and mustard is not healthy for dogs.  If you’re going to give your dog a hot dog it should be a plain hot dog.  

Hot dogs can also pose a choking risk to dogs.  Therefore, they should be cut up into small, bite-sized pieces.  

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Alternative Options

If you don’t regularly indulge in hot dogs, here are some other alternatives to try:

Other Varieties & Related Foods:

Store Bought vs. Butcher Cut

Store bought hot dogs are safe for dogs to eat.  They can be conveniently picked up on your way home from work.   If you’re worried about adding any preservatives into your dogs meal you could always go to a butcher and have higher quality hot dogs made.  Often butchers make quality hot dogs containing whole meats such as pork, chicken, and turkey.  Fresh hot dogs from butchers often contain less preservatives and you can get a detailed list of what is in them, ensuring that all ingredients are dog-friendly!  

Can Dogs Eat Chili Dogs?  

No.  Dogs can not eat chili dogs.  Most chili contains spices that can cause irritation to their stomach.  Additionally, many chili recipes contain onion which is toxic to dogs.  

Can Dogs Eat Corn Dogs?  

Dogs should avoid eating corn dogs.  While they’re not necessarily toxic, they contain high levels of salt, fat, and additives.  The bread-covered exterior also contains a lot of sugar, and plain corn isn’t fantastic for dogs to begin with.  Corn dogs are also fried which can upset your dog’s digestive system.  Are they dangerous?  No.  Are they in the least bit healthy?  Also no.  

Are Cheese Dogs Safe for Your Pup?

Yes—depending on the type of cheese, cheese dogs are safe for your pup!  It should not contain an artificial cheese sauce.  However, cheeses such as cheddar, or mozzarella are safe for your dog to eat and may add a nice surprise to a hot dog treat!  

Are Beef Hot Dogs Safe for Your Pup?

Yes, beef hot dogs are safe for dogs to eat as long as you follow the precautions listed in this article like avoiding preservatives and chopping them up to make them less of a choking hazard.

Are Turkey Hot Dogs Safe for Your Pup?

Yes, turkey hot dogs can be a tasty yet healthier variety of hot dog to share with your four-legged friend.  Just make sure they are plain without seasonings or condiments added and that you follow all the recommendations in this article. For more information about whether turkey is safe for your dog, check out our article, “Can Dogs Eat Turkey?

Can Dogs Eat Hot Dog Buns?

It is not recommended to give your dog hot dog puns.  While having a bite or two of hot dog bun will likely not cause any negative effects, they are simply empty calories filled with processed carbs and sugar.  If they accidentally sneak one, there’s not too much cause for worry.  However, similar to other bread products like tortillas, graham crackers, pizza crust, and cereal, it’s best to not actively feed them to your dog.

Are Raw Hot Dogs Safe for Your Pup?

While they may technically be safe for dogs to consume, we recommend only feeding your dog cooked hot dogs as they are even safer.  Uncooked hot dogs can contain bacteria which isn’t good for your dog and could cause an upset stomach or other, potentially worse side-effects.  Overall, it’s best to simply stick with cooked hot dogs for your pup.

Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs Cooked?

Yes, cooked hot dogs are safer for dogs to eat than raw hot dogs.  Just make sure that you follow all the precautions regarding preservatives, cutting  up the hot dog, and feeding it plain.

In Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Hot Dogs?

Yes, dogs can eat hot dogs!  As long as the hot dogs are free of harmful chemicals and preservatives, are chopped up, and are plain (without any condiments), the occasional bite of hot dog can be a fun tasty treat for your dog to enjoy!

Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians and this article should not be taken as medical or veterinary advice.   If you have any questions about your pet’s health or dietary needs, please contact your local veterinarian.