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Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni? Vet Approved Nutrition Facts & Safety Guide

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Can Dogs Eat pepperoni

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Every dog loves a good, meaty treat and would never pass up the opportunity to get their paws on such a thing. When a human is eating something fatty and meaty like pepperoni pizza, you can bet that their dog will be right there, staring them down in hopes of grabbing a bite that either falls to the ground or is intentionally offered to them.

As a person who loves their dog and wants to make them happy in every way possible, you are probably wondering whether it’s okay to give them a piece of pepperoni when they beg for it. The truth is that while it’s not toxic to canines, dogs should not eat pepperoni because it isn’t an ideal food or even a treat for them. Here’s what you should know.

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What Exactly Is Pepperoni?

Pepperoni is a meat that is specifically cured and processed before consumption. It’s typically made of a combination of pork and beef and is usually high in fat. Paprika and peppers are key ingredients that give pepperoni its signature flavor. Smokey and rich, pepperoni is usually a bit spicy, but that does not seem to bother most dogs in the least.

The texture and flavor of pepperoni are enhanced when it gets cooked on the stove or in the oven. One of the most common ways to consume pepperoni is on pizza. However, it can be enjoyed on its own, in a sandwich, and with other items like cheese and crackers.

slices of pepperoni on white background
Image Credit: Hong Vo, Shutterstock

Is Pepperoni Safe for Dogs to Eat?

Dogs are facultative carnivores that should eat a healthy amount of meat as part of their overall diet, but this does not mean that all meats are healthy for them. Highly processed meats like pepperoni are not ideal for canines. While dogs would love to eat pepperoni as part of their regular diet, they simply don’t know any better. It’s our job as their caretakers to understand what is and isn’t healthy for them to eat and to act accordingly.

Pepperoni is full of fat, salt, calories and preservatives. A slice of pepperoni here and there is not likely to cause any serious problems for your canine family member. However, even a small amount of this cured meat can make them feel ill. It’s best just to skip the pepperoni altogether.

Why Shouldn’t Dogs Eat Pepperoni?

Pepperoni can be on the spicy side, which can irritate a dog’s gastrointestinal system. After all, they are not designed to eat spicy foods and don’t do so regularly enough to “toughen” their bellies for the experience. The high fat and sodium content can also lead to gastrointestinal upset, and high fat food increases the risk of pancreatitis. Eating excess fat and calories regularly will lead to weight gain and eventually obesity.

Another problematic thing is that some of the seasonings that are often included in pepperoni recipes, can be harmful to dogs. For example, garlic is toxic, and can produce signs like diarrhea, vomiting, and general gastrointestinal discomfort. If enough garlic is consumed, it can cause red blood cell damage and hemolytic anemia.

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Are There Safe Alternatives to Pepperoni for Dogs?

Fortunately, there are several safe alternatives to pepperoni that you can feed your pup as snacks or treats that they are sure to love just as much. These alternatives offer necessary nutrition without all the extra fat, salt, and spices typically found in pepperoni.

Fish

Fish is a healthy protein option that dogs tend to enjoy like any other meat. It is also high in omega fatty acids, which help keep inflammation in check. However, it should be fully cooked without added oils or seasonings. Never feed raw fish to your pup, as it can harbor bacteria that make them sick and/or produce gastrointestinal discomfort. Fish bones should always be removed, as they can cause choking and could even perforate the intestines or organs. It is not advisable to offer tuna to dogs often, due to the high amounts of mercury that are typically found in it. The best types of fish for dogs to eat are salmon, whitefish, flounder, walleye, and herring.

Cooked cod with rosemary
Image Credit: TunedIn by Westend61, Shutterstock

Chicken

Chicken is a safe alternative to pepperoni that your dog can enjoy in moderation. It provides plenty of healthy protein and nutrients like vitamin B6 and zinc, which are essential for optimal health and a high quality of life. Chicken can harbor Salmonella, though, so it’s important to make sure it is fully cooked before feeding any to your pup. It’s best to cook it yourself to ensure that there are no added spices or ingredients. Chicken can be added to your dog’s food for extra flavor and texture or offered in small pieces as snacks or treats.

Liver

A rich treat that is likely to make your dog lick their chops is liver. Filled with B vitamins, iron, and a host of minerals, liver is lower in fat than most muscle meat. Liver should only form a small part of your pup’s overall diet though. It can be offered raw or cooked but should be free of added oil and spices, like with all other meats. Cooking is recommended as it reduces the risk of foodborne illness for you and your dog.

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A Final Recap

Most dogs can  have a piece of pepperoni occasionally without much risk of problems developing. However, it’s poor in nutrition, may upset their tummies and can be especially harmful when eaten in large amounts. It’s best to skip the pepperoni altogether and choose an alternative like fish, liver, or chicken instead.

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