You only have one friend whom you can count on to stay by your side the entire time that you’re in charge of the grill at a barbecue: your dog. As a reward, it only seems natural to offer them a hot dog for their troubles.
But should you? Can your dog eat a hot dog, or is that just asking for trouble?
Offering your pup a weenie shouldn’t pose a life-threatening issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. For a better idea of the risks and rewards involved, read on.
Are Hot Dogs Safe for Dogs?
There is nothing inside a hot dog that should prove toxic to your dog, so in that regard, they’re totally safe.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should start adding hot dogs to your mutt’s diet. There are many issues with weenies that make them less than ideal snacks for your pooch.
What’s Dangerous About Hot Dogs?
This is a difficult question to answer, because do we really know what’s in them? Do we want to know?
We have a good idea, actually — and the answer is salt and processed ingredients, neither of which are healthy for dogs in large quantities.
Also, their circular shape makes them the perfect choking hazard. That’s especially true if your dog doesn’t like to chew, as the hot dog can get lodged in their throat, choking off their air supply.
Another thing to worry about is the fact that many hot dogs are served with garnishes like onions and garlic, both of which can be toxic to canines. If you must give your dog a weenie, make sure it’s a plain one.
Are There Any Health Benefits to Hot Dogs?
Most hot dogs are packed with protein, which is always good for dogs.
However, there are other ways to boost your dog’s protein levels that don’t involve subjecting them to a bunch of questionable ingredients.
Does It Matter What Kind of Hot Dog I Feed My Pooch?
Yes. Generally speaking, the cheaper the hot dog, the less suitable it is for the real dog.
Inexpensive hot dogs are usually packed with artificial flavors, preservatives, and low-quality meat. You shouldn’t want your dog to eat any of that (and you really shouldn’t have it, either).
Higher-end hot dogs use whole meats, including chicken, pork, beef, and turkey. They’re more expensive, but that’s because they’re made with better ingredients — and they usually taste better too.
What About Ketchup, Mustard, and Buns?
All of these should be avoided. Ketchup and mustard are extremely high in sodium, and there’s plenty of that in the hot dog already.
Buns are often full of sugar and other highly-processed carbs, and while they’re not terrible in small doses, the less empty calories you give your dog, the better. This is especially true for aging or overweight dogs.
My Dog Ate a Hot Dog. What Should I Do?
If your dog just ate one and didn’t have any issues getting it down, the best thing is probably to resolve to guard your food better in the future. It’s unlikely that a single hot dog will have a major impact on your pup’s health.
If your dog ate several, it’s still probably not time to panic. It would take quite a few hot dogs to do any serious damage — more than your dog could probably eat in one sitting.
Be sure to offer them plenty of water, and monitor them to make sure their stomachs aren’t distended and that they’re not pacing, drooling excessively, or unsuccessfully vomiting. These are all signs of bloat, and if you notice them, take your dog to the vet immediately.
What Are Healthy Alternatives to Hot Dogs?
If you want to make your pooch feel like a member of the family at the 4th of July party, there are several other BBQ staples that can be appropriate.
Chicken or hamburgers are great treats — just go easy on the salt. Lay off the BBQ sauce and other condiments as well.
Also, if your hot dogs are made of high-quality ingredients, you can absolutely offer your dog a bite or two. Just cut them up first and don’t go overboard.
So, What’s the Verdict? Are Hot Dogs Safe for Dogs?
No vet will ever recommend giving your pet a hot dog, but there are worse things they could eat. Just don’t feed them too many, and cut them up to reduce the risk of choking.
Generally speaking, though, you’re better off finding something healthier for your pup to munch on. Hot dogs aren’t exactly packed with nutrition, and eating too many can contribute to health problems like obesity.
If you’re worried because your mutt snuck one off your plate, though, you can relax — your pup will almost certainly be fine.
Photo credit: fernandovillalobos, Pixabay