Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni? 7 Shocking Health Risks + 3 Tips

Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni

Dogs love meat. (There’s no doubt about this!)

And pepperoni is just one example.

It has a strong scent that attracts canines. 

However…

Is it okay to give your dog some?

Continue reading to learn:

  • If dogs can eat pepperoni or not.
  • Healthier pepperoni substitutes for canines.
  • 7 possible dangers of pepperoni that you must know.
  • 3 tips on what to do if your dog accidentally ate some.
  • And so much more…

Can dogs eat pepperoni?

It’s best for dogs to not eat pepperoni. A slice might not be highly toxic, but it isn’t a healthy option either. It has a lot of salt, preservatives, and seasonings. Plus, saturated fats. So, large consumption can cause digestive problems in dogs. As well as signs of toxicosis and pancreatitis.

Different types of pepperoni (products) reviewed

There are various kinds of pepperoni in the market.

So, I did some research on every type. And listed down its possible dangers:

Can dogs eatYes / No (+ dangers)
Pepperoni sausageNo.
Garlic powder – toxic in large amounts.
Salt – can lead to high blood pressure, hypernatremia, and poisoning.
Peppers – may cause bad gas and stomach problems.
cooked pepperoniNo, same with pepperoni sausage.
pepperoni chipsNo, same with pepperoni sausage.
cheese pepperoniNo, cheese is high in fats and may upset a dog’s stomach.
dry pepperoniNo, same with pepperoni sausage.
fresh pepperoniNo, raw meat isn’t advised for puppies, dogs with pancreatitis and cancer.
fried pepperoniNo, greasy food can cause an upset stomach and pancreatitis.
frozen pepperoniNo, it’s hard for pups’ small teeth.
garlic pepperoniNo, garlic is highly toxic to dogs.
green pepperoniNo, mustard seeds can irritate the dog’s tummy.
Hormel pepperoniNo, as Hormel pepperoni contains spices, flavorings, and garlic powder.
mini/small pepperoniNo, as small pepperoni still contain hot pepper, garlic, and paprika.
old pepperoniNo, it’s spicier than regular pepperoni.
raw pepperoniNo, same with fresh pepperoni.
red pepperoniNo, it can be spicier than normal pepperoni.
sweet pepperoniNo, same with pepperoni sausage.
sandwich pepperoniNo, salami, ham, and cheese are high in fats.
organic/uncured pepperoniNo, uncured pepperoni also has paprika, spices, sea salt, and garlic.

Why is pepperoni bad for dogs?

Pepperoni is bad for dogs because it’s high in unhealthy fats and calories. It’s also filled with sodium and seasonings that are toxic for them in large amounts.

But, it also contains a few nutrients that can benefit canines.

“So, is pepperoni good for dogs?”

Still, no.

I’ll talk more about this below. So, let’s dive right in.


7 reasons why pepperoni is bad for dogs


#1: Saturated fats

Dogs need fats in their meals.

However, not all of them are good for canines. Even more so if they’re too much.

One example of this is saturated fats. And processed meats like pepperonis have these in high amounts.

According to USDA, pepperonis have:

Amount of pepperoniTotal fatsTotal saturated fats
1 slice – 0.07 oz (2 g)0.03 oz (0.93 g)0.01 oz (0.3 g)
14 slices – 1 oz (28 g)0.46 oz (13 g)0.17 oz (4.96 g)

Now, let’s compare these to the recommended daily fat intake for dogs.

The NRC says it’s:

  • 0.74 oz (21 g) – for puppies.
  • 0.49 oz (14 g) – for adult dogs.

These needs could be easily met by eating dog food that suits their breed and age.

But as you can see…

An ounce of pepperoni will quickly fill up an adult Fido’s daily fat needs by just a few munches.

And compared to dog food, processed meats have too many saturated fats. 

These are considered unhealthy according to experts. Plus, they’re also one of the causes of heart problems in humans.

Can saturated fats put canines at risk of heart diseases?

Fortunately, no.

“Why?”

Dr. John Bauer says that dogs naturally have a lot of HDL or ‘good cholesterol’ in their body. 

This is compared to LDL or ‘bad cholesterol.’ Which makes them more resistant to heart issues than us.

However…

This doesn’t mean that saturated fats don’t have possible bad effects on our furry friends.

Dr. Cailin Heinze points out that too much of these can lead to an upset stomach. Especially to dogs who aren’t used to high-fat diets.

Diabetes is likely too. Especially if a dog has a history of this condition. As well as ‘pancreatitis.’

It’s the swelling of the pancreas – an organ that releases digestive enzymes. And fatty meals are one of its causes in dogs.

#2: Too many calories

Dog Burning Calories By Barking

Fats are essential sources of energy. Plus, they also help in:

  • Keeping a healthy coat.
  • Absorbing specific vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
  • Reducing inflammation (or the body’s reaction to toxins or infections).

As I said earlier, pepperonis have plenty of these.

And PetMD says that fats provide twice the amount of ‘fuel’ than protein and carbs.

This is why a diet high in fats is recommended for lean and active working dogs. Like hunting, sled, or military canines.

But, for low-energy, overweight, and senior dogs who are prone to health problems…

Are high-fat diets a good choice?

Nope.

Again, based on USDA, pepperonis have:

Amount of pepperoniTotal calories (kcal)
1 slice – 0.07 oz (2 g)10.1 kcal
14 slices – 1 oz (28 g)141 kcal

The calorie requirements for dogs vary per weight.

To have an idea of your pooch’s daily needs, use this chart made by the WSAVA.

So, for example:

An adult Basset Hound weighing 50.6 lb (23 kg) needs 880 to 1103 calories per day.

This breed is known for having low energy. So, experts may advise not to go beyond their daily calorie intake.

But with a complete diet and extra slices of pepperoni, a dog can exceed their daily limit.

And in the long run, this could make them add some weight too. Which makes them prone to other medical conditions, like:

  • Arthritis.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart diseases.

#3: High sodium content

Plenty of salt is used to preserve meats like pepperonis.

This is because it helps dry out moisture content. (Thanks to the process of ‘osmosis.’) Which makes meats less prone to spoilage and bacterial growth.

So aside from fats, pepperoni also contains a lot of sodium.

How much salt does it have?

A thin piece of pepperoni has 0.001 oz (35.2 mg) of sodium. While a pack (3.53 oz/100 g) of it has 0.06 oz (1,761 mg).

Since pepperonis are tasty, your dog can beg for more.

And if they’re not drinking enough water

Too much sodium in their system might lead to dehydration and high blood pressure. As well as ‘hypernatremia.’

“What is it?”

It’s when there’s a high level of sodium in their blood. Which is usually caused by extreme water loss.

But apart from this, did you know that dogs can also suffer from salt toxicity?

How much sodium is dangerous for dogs?

Experts say canines can be poisoned by consuming 0.07 to 0.10 oz (2 to 3 g) of sodium per kg of body weight.

While a study reveals that 0.14 oz (4 g) per kilogram is fatal.  

This means that 2.8 oz (80 g) of salt could make a 88 lb (40 kg) dog experience signs of toxicity.

Eating a slice of pepperoni won’t cause so much harm to dogs.

But, ingesting many pieces every day might.

Because canines also consume other sources of sodium throughout the day. Say, eggs, commercial dog food, and other kinds of meat.

Read next: Why does my dog suddenly pant (heavily)?

#4: Potentially harmful preservatives

Salt isn’t the only one used in curing meat products. Because other ‘agents’ also help in this process.

These are ‘sodium nitrates.’ And they’re also responsible for pepperoni’s flavor and color.

But guess what.

These could also be found in green leafy vegetables. Such as beetroots and spinach.

And they may also seep into our water sources. So, dietary nitrates might be harmless to dogs.

However…

Study shows that these could be converted to nitrites. And then to nitric oxide.

Can dogs be affected by this?

Research says that nitrate poisoning is usually seen in cattle. As their digestive system is built differently than dogs’.

But, one finding indicates that nitric oxide is high in canines with mammary tumors.

So, this possibility shouldn’t be ruled out.

#5: Toxic seasonings

Pepperoni also contains different seasonings. And one of them is garlic or ‘Allium sativum.’

It’s part of the Allium family. Along with onions, leeks, chives, and shallots.

These spices bring an inviting aroma and flavor to food. (Yum!)

However…

They could also make our furry friends sick.

How much garlic is poisonous to a dog?

According to a study, 0.53 to 1.06 oz (15 to 30 g) of onions per kg of body weight can poison dogs. And we could also apply this to garlic.

A clove is usually 0.14 to 0.25 oz (4 to 7 g). So, canines have to consume a lot of fresh garlic to be affected.

But, specialists reported that Allium poisoning is still possible even in small doses. As long as it’s ingested repeatedly. 

Also, VCA Hospitals states that both onion and garlic are more potent in powdered form. This is due to the absence of water.

Based on them, ⅙ oz (1 tsp) of garlic powder comprises 8 fresh cloves.

In most pepperonis, granulated garlic is used. But, homemade ones may have minced garlic instead. 

What can too much garlic do to dogs?

For mild cases, gastroenteritis is usually observed. It’s the irritation of the stomach and intestines.

But, Allium has toxic substances that can impair the red blood cells or RBCs.

This may lead to anemia due to a lack of RBCs. Which might progress to kidney failure or, worse, death.

You might also like: Can dogs eat burritos?

#6: Peppers

This is quite visible in its name.

The word ‘pepperoni’ came from the Italian word ‘peperone,’ which means bell pepper.

So in addition to cured meat and seasonings…

Pepperoni also has various spices in it. Like paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Which are the reasons for its spicy kick.

“Are peppers bad for dogs?”

Well, they aren’t poisonous, unlike salt and garlic.

But, when consumed too much, they can irritate a dog’s stomach. Resulting in diarrhea to severe digestive problems.

Vets also say that spicy food may cause excessive gas in a Fido’s tummy. As some dogs have trouble digesting it. (Oh no!)

You might also wonder…

“Can dogs taste spiciness?”

According to AKC, humans have a stronger sense of taste than canines.

They only have around 1,700 taste buds. While we have 9,000, which is 5 times greater than theirs.

So, dogs may not be able to taste spicy food as we can.

However, they could still feel a burning sensation. Which might also bring discomfort.

#7: Little nutritional value

Lastly, dogs can get some nutrients from pepperonis.

But, these are only small amounts compared to other food sources. So, it isn’t ideal to be part of a dog’s diet.

As its possible consequences still outweigh its benefits in dogs. And since there are also other healthier and fresher choices.

Based on USDA, an ounce (28 g) of pepperoni has:

NutrientAmountBenefit
Protein0.19 oz (5,380 mg)Supports growth and repairs tissue.
Potassium0.003 oz (76.7 mg)Keeps the heart and kidneys healthy.
Phosphorus0.002 oz (44.2 mg)Promotes healthy kidney function.
Calcium0.00019 oz (5.32 mg)Maintains strong teeth and bones.
Magnesium0.00017 oz (5.04 mg)Sustains good nerve and muscle function.
Niacin0.00005 oz (1.40 mg)Fights harmful bacteria.
Zinc0.00002 oz (0.68 mg)Assists hormones, keeps a healthy coat.
Iron0.000013 oz (0.37 mg)Supplies oxygen in the blood.
Manganese0.000010 oz (0.30 mg)Aids bone growth and enzyme production.
Vitamin B60.000004 oz (0.10 mg)Regulates hormones.
Thiamine0.000003 oz (0.08 mg)Maintains energy and metabolism.
Riboflavin0.000002 oz (0.07 mg)Encourages enzyme function.

Even the nutrient with the highest amount (which is protein) is still trivial.

This is compared to the 10,000 mg of protein in chicken meat with the same serving size.

Can pepperoni kill a dog?

Pepperoni can’t immediately kill a dog. There are no reports about this yet. But eating too much of this can make canines ill.

Small puppies and dogs who have sensitive stomachs are more prone to this. As well as those who are predisposed to health problems.

This could go from mild cases of an upset stomach. To more severe ones like salt poisoning and pancreatitis. 

And dogs can get this either by eating high amounts in one go. Or consuming small doses daily. 


3 tips on what to do if your dog accidentally eats pepperoni


#1: Watch out for these symptoms

It’s unlikely for a thin slice of pepperoni to cause toxicosis in canines.

But, whether they ate a piece or a whole sausage, you should still monitor your dog closely.

And see if they show any of these common signs of an upset stomach:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Weakness.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Reduced appetite.

In addition to these, poisoning may have other symptoms too, such as:

  • Seizures.
  • Muscle tremors.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Drooling/foaming.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Odd changes in body temperature.
  • Unusual color of gums (pale, yellow, or blue).

Dogs might also arch their backs due to stomach pain or stretch a lot. And this is mainly observed in cases of pancreatitis.

Note: Signs of garlic poisoning may not appear instantly. These can be delayed and take several days to come out. So, pay attention to your dog. And watch out for any physical or behavioral changes.

#2: Resolve your dog’s upset stomach

If your Fido consumes a few pieces of pepperoni, they may experience gastrointestinal distress.

This is probable if they’re refusing to eat, vomiting, and have loose stools.

“What should I do?”

Usually, vets recommend to:

Withhold food for 12 hours (after ingestion)

If your dog stops vomiting during this, experts say to make them sip some water.

Then gradually increase the amount if they’re doing fine.

However, fasting isn’t advised if you have a:

  • Small breed. 
  • Young puppy. 
  • Dog with existing health issues.

This is because they don’t do well without food for long periods. In this case, you may ask your vet before doing this.

Give them a bland diet

After fasting, prepare simple meals of plain boiled white rice and chicken meat. And avoid giving them fatty and greasy food.

This is not to irritate your dog’s tummy even further.

Add fiber or probiotics to their meals

Mix some canned pumpkins into their diet. Because fiber absorbs excess water in their large intestines – resulting in firmer stools.

Also, consider probiotics. As these contain good bacteria, which helps in digestion and fighting infections.

Dogs can get these from:

  • Xylitol-free yogurt.
  • Plain unsweetened kefir.
  • Probiotic chews/powders.

Make them drink enough water

Vomiting and diarrhea put dogs at risk of dehydration.

So refill your dog’s bowl with fresh water from time to time. And ensure they’re drinking enough.

Return to their normal meals

Lastly, once their signs subside, start switching back to their old diet.

But, do this slowly. As some dogs’ stomachs are extra sensitive to any abrupt changes.

Begin with meals consisting of 75% current diet and 25% old diet.

Then every 2 days, lessen the new food and increase the old one by 25%. Until their meals are 100% made up of their old diet.

Warning: Stomach problems might also be an indicator of other more severe conditions. Like pancreatitis, bloat, and parasites. So, bring your dog to the clinic once they exhibit these other signs:

  • Collapsing.
  • Blood in their stool or vomit.
  • Persistent vomiting and diarrhea.

#3: Take quick action on possible poisoning

Now, if your dog displays signs of poisoning…

Do these things:

  1. Remove them from the area.
  2. Keep the rest of the pepperoni out of their reach.
  3. Get rid of any remnants in their mouth or face.
  4. Grab a sample of what they’ve eaten.
  5. Avoid giving them any food or home remedies.
  6. Don’t try to induce vomiting. Unless you called your vet and instructed you to do so.

Signs of poisoning may progress to severe cases. Say, organ failure or anemia.

So, if they ingested high amounts of pepperoni, bring them to the nearest emergency clinic asap.

Note: For possible salt toxicosis, experts also advise offering your dog fresh water. This is if they’re not vomiting. But, do this in small doses and intervals.


3 pepperoni alternatives for dogs


#1: Meat-flavored treats

First, instead of highly processed human food, why not offer your pup some dog treats?

In this case, meat-flavored ones might get the attention of your pooch since pepperoni is made of pork and beef.

These may not be the healthiest choice. But, they’re way better than fatty slices of cured meat.

Note: Pick organic or natural dog treats. And avoid ones with high salt and sugar content. Also, these should only be 5% to 10% of your dog’s daily calories.

#2: Bits of cooked plain meat

Fresh, natural meats still beat artificially flavored ones.

So for your dog, you can prepare boiled meat of your choice instead. Say, pork, chicken, or beef.

It’s easy and less expensive. Plus, you can ensure that it doesn’t have any unnecessary additives. 

Here are some reminders:

  • Don’t include any fat.
  • Remove the skin and bones in the chicken.
  • Boil the meat in water without putting any seasonings.
  • Cut it into easy-to-chew chunks. Or shred it into tiny pieces.
  • Let it cool down for a few minutes before serving. 

Then, voila!

You now have a tasty (and healthy) homemade treat for your dog.

#3: DIY meat jerky for dogs

Now, if your pooch likes pepperoni jerky, you can try this safer option.

Like the boiled meat, this is also easy to make. And it won’t cost you a lot.

To know how, watch this short video:

Note: Homemade jerkies don’t have a long shelf-life like the commercial ones. So take note of the date and store them properly.

  • Fully dried ones (in a sealed container) last up to 2 weeks at room temperature.
  • But for longer shelf-life, refrigerate them. And jerkies could be preserved for 1 to 2 months at most.

People also ask: 


Can dogs eat pepperoni pizza?

Dogs shouldn’t eat pepperoni pizza. The toppings alone (pepperoni) are already high in calories, fats, and sodium.

Even more so if you add up the sauce and crust.

Also, pizzas commonly have seasonings and spices in them. Like garlic and onions, which are toxic for canines.

Eating a few slices won’t poison your dog right away. But, these may cause an upset stomach in some hounds.

And more health issues are possible if they consume this frequently. Say, pancreatitis and obesity.

However…

It’s a bigger problem if your dog accidentally ate an uncooked pizza

“Why?”

Because of yeast and alcohol poisoning.

Pizza dough has yeast which causes it to rise. And if a dog ingests a raw dough, the yeast will inflate inside their tummy instead.

Experts explain that it’s because the stomach provides a warm environment for the yeast to rise.

The expansion may lead to a severe form of bloat. Wherein their stomach twists. And this needs immediate medical attention.

Then, as the yeast becomes fermented in their stomach, it releases alcohol. Which is also dangerous for dogs.

Check out also: Can Dogs Eat Croissants? 15 Must-Read Dangers

Can dogs eat hot pepperoni?

Dogs can’t eat hot pepperoni. This is because spicy food can cause bad gas and digestive problems in canines.

Regular pepperonis are already slightly spicy. But hot ones are made from stronger spices. Like cayenne pepper. 

Some dogs may like it and not have trouble digesting it.

However, hot pepperoni might upset the stomach of other canines. Especially those who aren’t used to it.

Can dogs eat pepperoni jerky?

Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni Jerky

It’s not good for dogs to eat pepperoni jerky. This particular type is high in preservatives and seasonings. Such as sodium, sugar, garlic, and onion powder.

Large amounts of these ingredients are poisonous to dogs. And regular small intake can also make them sick.

According to the National Research Council or NRC, dogs have a 0.007 oz (200 mg) allowance in sodium.

But a piece of commercial beef jerky has 0.015 oz (416.2 mg) of salt. Meaning 2 or more slices could easily surpass their daily intake.

However, don’t get me wrong here.

Canines can still have some jerkies. But only those that are homemade, unsalted, and free of spices.

Can dogs eat pepperoni sticks?

Dogs aren’t encouraged to eat pepperoni sticks. These cured snacks might be a tasty treat for them. But, they’re filled with more calories and salt than a normal pepperoni.

A stick has 120 calories. With 0.35 oz (10 g) fat and 0.015 oz (420 mg) sodium.

Eating a whole piece is like consuming 12 slices of pepperoni in one sitting. So, your dog can munch down a lot of calories without you noticing.

And it’s already known that too many fats and salt have consequences. Not only in humans but also in canines. Dangers include diabetes, obesity, and pancreatitis.

There’s a chance of salt toxicosis as well. Especially in this case, where dogs may ingest high amounts of sodium all at once.

Can dogs eat turkey pepperoni?

Dogs can’t eat turkey pepperoni regularly. But, a slice won’t hurt once in a while if your pup is healthy. This is because it has less sodium, fats, and calories than the normal one.

Although they’re less ‘harmful’ to our furry friends, these still contain spices and preservatives. Which aren’t good when consumed excessively.

So, if you’re going to offer these, do so in moderation. And consider other healthier alternatives as well.

When shouldn’t you feed pepperoni to dogs?

You shouldn’t feed pepperoni to dogs in general. It’s high in salt, fats, and calories. Plus, it has little nutritional value to canines.

Fatty and greasy food can upset a dog’s stomach. While those who have a history of pancreatitis and diabetes are at higher risk of getting sick.

Too much sodium may also lead to heart diseases. And if they’re not drinking enough water, dehydration and hypernatremia are also likely.

How often can dogs eat pepperoni?

Dogs can safely eat a slice of pepperoni every 2 or more months. It isn’t recommended to include this in their daily diet due to its health risks. 

So, try not to give in to your pooch when they’re begging for some. Instead, offer them healthier options. Like the ones I discussed above. 

Can dogs eat pepperoni and salami?

Dogs can’t eat pepperoni and salami because they’re highly processed meats.

Meaning, they’re both packed with fats and sodium. As well as preservatives, seasonings, and spices.

Even with pepperoni, dogs (especially young ones) may quickly get an upset stomach.

And they’re also prone to more severe conditions. Like pancreatitis, hypernatremia, and diabetes.

So, what more if another fatty food is introduced?