When people think of pepperoni, the thin meaty slices that we find on pizza often come to mind. Even though pepperoni is still a pizza favorite, it has become even more versatile these days. It can be eaten on its own as a snack, used as a garnish in a sandwich, or featured on a charcuterie platter.
What makes pepperoni, pepperoni?
Pepperoni is an American take on Italian cured meat. It is traditionally made with beef and pork and includes a mix of savory seasonings such as garlic, black pepper, and paprika.
Modern versions of pepperoni may feature different meats and, in some cases, no meat at all! Vegetarian pepperoni is available at some grocery stores or can be made at home using plant-based ingredients.
Can my dog eat pepperoni?
Whichever type of pepperoni you prefer, it is only natural to want to share such a treat with your four-legged friend.
You are cooking when, suddenly, your dog looks at you. You want to give him a little treat but you wonder if he can eat the food you are holding in your hand.
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Unfortunately, pepperoni is a treat that is best kept on your own table. The curing process will involve high levels of salt. Salty treats can lead to an uncomfortable thirst for your dog and, at high levels, salt can be toxic.
Pepperoni also tends to have a high caloric content. A single slice can contain up to 25 calories! Over-indulging in such a calorie-dense treat can put your dog on track to becoming obese.
Dogs that are classified as overweight will be more likely to suffer from health problems, including osteoarthritis and diabetes.
The variety of ingredients that are commonly added to pepperoni is not dog-friendly either. Garlic is toxic to dogs at high levels and spicy ingredients, such as black pepper, should never be fed. These can cause serious tummy upsets, which might end up in a trip to the veterinarian.
Isn’t pepperoni a good source of protein?
Most pepperoni will contain protein because of its meat content. However, it is not considered to be a good source of protein because so much of it would have to be eaten to meet daily requirements. Every bite of pepperoni comes with a large amount of salt, calories, and seasonings that can be harmful to your dog.
The best source of protein for your pooch will come from a complete and balanced diet! Feeding a commercial diet with an adequacy statement on the label is a fantastic way to meet all of your dog’s protein and nutritional needs.
But my dog loves pepperoni! Can’t I give him just one piece?
Even though we know pepperoni is not a good food choice for our dogs, it is difficult to say “no” when they come around with those puppy-dog eyes.
Feeding a single piece of pepperoni is unlikely to cause harm to your dog, but it can lead to long-term consequences if it becomes a habit.
One alternative is pepperoni-flavored treats that are made specifically for dogs. Your four-legged friend will then be able to enjoy the enticing flavor of pepperoni in a more dog-friendly way.
Other good treat options include fruits and vegetables. You might be surprised at how much your dog enjoys crunching on a carrot or apple. They might even prefer it over a pepperoni slice! You can experiment with dog-safe ingredients from your kitchen to see which healthy option becomes a favorite for your dog.
Remember that no more than 10% of your dog’s required daily calorie intake should come from treats. Even dog-friendly treats can be high in calories and should only be allowed in moderation.
Can a dog be allergic to pepperoni?
A dog can be allergic to one of the protein sources in pepperoni. Beef is one of the more common ingredients that cause allergies in dogs. Because beef is a popular meat choice for pepperoni, a dog who is allergic or sensitive to beef can have a reaction from eating it. It is possible for a dog to be allergic to other meats, but these are less common.
My dog ate a package of pepperoni! What should I do?
Despite how careful we are, it seems that our clever dogs still find a way to get a hold of something they really want.
If your dog manages to eat a whole package of pepperoni, monitor him closely over the next few days for signs of illness. Ensure he has plenty of fresh water available.
If your dog is showing signs of discomfort or vomiting for longer than 48 hours, bring him to the veterinary clinic for a checkup.
Even if your dog has eaten a whole package of pepperoni, it is unlikely that he will need emergency treatment. He might just have a bad stomach ache for the next few days. Dogs have an excellent sense of smell so they will sniff out packages of pepperoni sitting even high up on a table.
When preparing meals with pepperoni always ensure that a close eye is kept on your dog and the ingredients!
Can dogs eat pepperoni pizza?
Pepperoni pizza should not be given to dogs.
Pizza tends to be high in calories and will often include many non-dog-friendly ingredients. Cheese, for example, is a common pizza topping that contains lactose, which is indigestible for adult dogs.
Pepperoni is an ingredient that is best left on our own table. We should definitely not get into the habit of giving this to our dog.
Thankfully, there are a number of safe alternatives available so that your four-legged friend won’t have to miss out on enjoying indulgent treats.
Dr Marie is a vet whose secret passion is nutrition. She loves to use her veterinary knowledge to help pet owners make the right decisions for their pets. Marie lives in Scotland, enjoys travelling, and has a rescue Bengal cat called Meeyu. She has a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery and an MSc in Nutrition. She is also and Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, because she’s passionate about teaching and has been involved at teaching at vet school.