As a dog owner, one of your biggest concerns is probably what your dog can and can’t eat. While it is evident that a healthy diet is essential for your furry friend, it can be challenging to know what is safe and what isn’t.
And as much as you’d want to do your best to give them nothing but all the good treats, sometimes it gets hard to say no to them when they’re giving you those adorable puppy eyes.
In the case of spam, for example, would it be safe to give them a bite or two?
What is Spam?
Spam is a brand of canned meat, typically made from pork shoulder meat and ham, produced by food manufacturer Hormel Foods Corporation.
It was first launched in 1937, and became highly popular not long thereafter, particularly during World War II, because it was an affordable, non-perishable food. To date, many people around the world still eat spam. It is often sold pre-cooked and can be eaten cold or heated up.
So, Can Dogs Eat Spam?
In recent years, there has been a cultural shift toward more natural and unprocessed foods, and away from artificial ingredients.
It is common knowledge that many processed meat contains harmful chemicals, including flavoring, preservatives, and coloring. Most people avoid eating these foods or feeding them to their children.
However, figuring out what’s best for our canine companions can be confusing, and some people might not think twice about giving their dog a can of spam meat.
Like you, your dog can technically eat a small amount of spam, but also like you, it probably should not. Spam is better as human food.
If you have spam, it is one of the best prepper foods out there and you should definitely store and eat it.
What is Spam Made Of?
The main ingredients of spam meat are pork shoulder, ham, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrite. It also contains potato starch, corn syrup, and cellulose gum.
So let us take a closer look at each component and see why spam is probably not the best for your pup.
For starters, spam is high in sodium—sodium nitrite, to be exact. It’s a chemical substance often used in processed meats like spam to help preserve them and give them that characteristic pink color.
While sodium is an essential nutrient for dogs, they can only tolerate a certain amount. Therefore, sodium nitrite is not necessarily harmful to dogs in small amounts, but it can cause certain discomforts in large quantities.
Digestive unrest, vomiting, and diarrhea are among the most common symptoms of excessive sodium intake. If left unchecked, this can lead to more severe problems like dehydration, liver damage, or pancreatitis, which are fatal.
The next time there’s spam within reach and you’re tempted to share some with your dog, consider this fact:
The recommended daily sodium intake for dogs is about 22 milligrams per pound of body weight. A single can of spam contains more than double the daily sodium most dogs should have. This may lead to salt poisoning if eaten in excess.
This means that an entire can of spam contains more than four times the amount of sodium a 20-pound dog should have daily.
Additionally, spam is also high in fat. While some fat is necessary for a dog’s diet, too much can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and other health problems.
Veterinary experts recommend that dogs get no more than five percent of their daily calories from fat.
In the case of a typical 20-pound dog, that’s about two grams of fat per day. In contrast, a can of spam contains about 17 grams of fat, much more than most dogs should have in a day.
Spam also contains a significant amount of sugar. Generally, dogs don’t need any sugar in their diet. They can get all the nutrients they need from protein and fat. In fact, sugar can be harmful to dogs.
It can lead to weight gain and tooth decay, among other problems. Considering that one can of spam has about two grams of sugar, it’s best to avoid feeding it to your dog.
Flavorings and Preservatives
Many of the flavoring and preservatives in spam can be harmful to dogs. Monosodium glutamate, for example, is a common flavor enhancer that can cause headaches, weakness, and chest pain in dogs.
In addition, nitrates and nitrites are preservatives often found in spam that can cause problems like anemia and cancer in the long run.
My Dog Just Ate Spam. What Should I Do?
Suppose you’re ever in a situation where your dog has eaten spam, and you’re not sure how much. In that case, it’s essential to watch for signs of illness or digestive upset.
Common symptoms include:
- lack of appetite
- frequent urination
These symptoms are from sodium poisoning and potentially some other side effects of eating spam. If your dog is showing any of these signs, there are some quick remedies you can try out at home:
- Start by offering your dog plenty of fresh water to drink. The vomiting and diarrhea dehydrate your dog’s body, so it’s essential to replenish your dog’s fluids and keep it hydrated.
- If your dog is vomiting, withhold food for 12-24 hours and then offer small, frequent meals of bland, easy-to-digest food, such as white rice. This can help to settle their stomach and ease any digestive upset.
- For diarrhea, you can try feeding your dog boiled chicken or white rice mixed with some plain yogurt. This can help to settle their stomach and bind up any loose stool.
If they’re still not feeling better or display more severe signs such as seizures, difficulty breathing, or an elevated heartbeat, it’s time to take them to the vet immediately.
With proper treatment, most dogs will recover from eating spam without any lasting effects.
Alternatives to Spam
If you’re ever in a bind and need to feed your dog some quick protein, there are a few other options you can try:
- Plain-cooked hamburger meat or chicken is always a good choice, as long as it’s not seasoned with spices or sauces.
- You can also give them some cottage cheese or boiled eggs. These two are great examples of dog-friendly high-protein foods that can be given as a snack or added to their regular meal. Not only are they natural and unprocessed, but they’re also easy to digest for canines.
- Jerky chews or meat-based dog treats are other good options, as long as they don’t contain any harmful additives.
These options will give your dog the necessary nutrients without potential health risks.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can dogs eat Spam one time?
No, it is not recommended that dogs eat Spam even one time. Spam contains a high level of sodium and other unhealthy additives, which can be harmful to a dog’s health in a large amount. If it is consumed once, it most likely won’t kill your dog, but it will harm your dog’s health.
What meat should dogs avoid?
Dogs should avoid eating raw or undercooked meats as well as certain cooked meats that contains a high amount of fat and spices. These include pork, beef, lamb, chicken livers, and gizzards, and some processed meats like bacon, spam, and sausage.
What canned meat can dogs eat?
Canned dog food is the most common type of canned meat that dogs can eat. This should be a complete and balanced meal specifically formulated for canine nutrition, rather than human-grade processed meats such as hotdogs or Spam, which contain too much fat and sodium to feed your pet safely.
Canned meats that are safe for dogs to eat include tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines (in water or oil), and chicken. Ensure the canned meat does not contain added salt or ingredients like onion powder, which can be toxic to pets.
Closing Thoughts: Can Dogs Eat Spam?
Yes, they can, in small amounts, but preferably and ideally not. While it probably won’t kill them on the spot, it’s not particularly good for them either.
There’s no doubt that we love our furry friends. Otherwise, we wouldn’t go to such great lengths to ensure they’re healthy and happy. If spam is unhealthy for us, it’s probably not the best idea to feed it to our dogs too.