You only have one friend you can count on to stay by your side the entire time 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 is toxic to your dog, so in that regard, they’re safe. However, that doesn’t mean you should add hot dogs to your pet’s diet. There are many issues with weenies that make them less-than-ideal snacks for your pup.
What’s Dangerous About Hot Dogs?
Hot dogs are loaded with salt and processed ingredients, neither of which are healthy for dogs in large quantities. Also, their cylindrical shape makes them the perfect choking hazard. That’s especially true if your dog doesn’t like to chew, and the hot dog can get lodged in their throat, choking off their air supply.
Another concern is that many hot dogs are served with onions and garlic, which can be toxic to canines. If you must give your dog a hot dog, 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 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 your pet. Inexpensive hot dogs are usually packed with artificial flavors, preservatives, and low-quality meat.
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 usually taste better, too.
What About Ketchup, Mustard, and Buns?
All of the condiments commonly added to hot dogs should be avoided. Ketchup and mustard are incredibly high in sodium, and there’s already plenty of salt in the meat.
Buns are often full of sugar and other highly-processed carbs, and while they’re not terrible in small doses, the fewer 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, they’ll probably be fine. It’s unlikely that a single hot dog will significantly impact your pup’s health.
If your dog ate several, it’s still probably not time to panic. It would take several hot dogs to do severe damage—more than your dog could probably eat in one sitting.
Be sure to offer them plenty of water and monitor them to ensure their stomachs aren’t distended and 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 pup feel like a member of the family at the 4th of July party, several other BBQ staples are healthier. Chicken or hamburgers are great treats, but 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 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. Please don’t feed them too many, and cut them up to reduce the risk of choking. Generally speaking, you’re better off finding something healthier for your pup to munch on. Hot dogs aren’t packed with nutrition, and eating too many can contribute to health problems like obesity.
If you’re worried because your dog snuck one off your plate, you can relax, and your pup will almost certainly be fine.
Featured Image credit: Maizephyr, Shutterstock