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What happens if a dog eats pork fat?

What happens if a dog eats pork fat?

We love feeding our dogs the same foods we eat. In fact, there’s a good reason behind the practice. Food is a way to bond, for both humans and dogs. This is why so many of our important events center around, or at least include, food. 

So, we want to share our meals with our dogs because we love them. In some cases, this is ok, or even beneficial. However, some people foods can be harmful to your pooch. 

What happens if a dog eats pork fat?

Perhaps you snuck your dog a piece of ham, or perhaps they raided the trash. Either way, you are wondering what happens if a dog eats pork fat.

The short answer is that pork fat is not good for dogs. There are also some risks associated with feeding your pooch pork fat.

Dog Diet

In the wild, dogs will consume some fat, along with the meat and bones of their kill. They will also eat some fruit and vegetables. Wild dogs will not eat grains, other than the grains found in the stomach of their prey. 

When it comes to domesticated dogs, their diet used to consist of what their owners didn’t eat. They ate scraps, including meat fat and bones. Many likely hunted prey to supplement their diet as well. 

In the 18th century, lard was a popular dog food. The lard would be combined with grains. It was a simple and calorie dense way to provide adequate, for the time, nutrition. These dogs were expected to work very hard, and had a high energy requirement. 

This may lead you to believe that pork fat is an ok choice for your dog. However, you must keep in mind that we’ve learned much more about nutrition than we knew then. We’ve also moved away from a survival mentality, to one concerned with the best health for us and our poochs. 

It was once customary to feed human babies cows milk long before they were one year old. Now we know better, and have the resources to do better. Some babies even had horse milk! 

How Much Fat Do Dogs Need? 

Fat is an important part of a dog’s diet. In fact, it’s essential for their health. However, just like us, they need fat in the correct amounts. The minimum amount of fat a dog needs is 5% of their daily calories from fat. They also need at least 10% protein.

There’s a big range when it comes to protein and fat intake. Dogs are designed to cope with some variability in their diet. Their needs also change over time. Growing puppies require more protein and fat than adult dogs. Dogs who are very active require more than less active pooches. 

Puppies need about 29% protein, while adult dogs need about 18% protein for optimal health. When t comes to fat, a normal range is 5-20% of their calories from fat. However, during periods of high physical exertion or growth, dogs can get up to 25-50% of their calories from fat. 

This means dogs need fat in their diet, and in some situations, a lot of it. Labeling fats as bad or villainous hasn’t worked for humans, and it certainly won’t work for dogs.

This raises two questions. How much is too much fat? What are the best sources of fat for dogs? Let’s take a look at the negative effects of too much fat for dogs. 


If your dog consistently consumes too much fat or calories, they will become obese. Just like humans, taking in more calories than they burn leads to weight gain. Because fat is very high calorie, it is a major contributor to obesity. 

With over half of the dogs in the U.S. being obese or overweight, it’s a major concern for dog owners. Obesity leads to an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and has been shown to shorten a dog’s lifespan. 


Panceatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for releasing digestive enzymes. Pancreatis causes the pancreas to release these enzymes into the abdominal cavity. This can damage the pancreas and surrounding organs. 

Gastrointestinal Issues

Have you ever overindulged in fatty foods, and gotten an upset stomach? This also happens to dogs. When they consume too much fat, they can experience bloating, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

This can be severe enough that the dog requires medication and a special diet until their digestive system recovers.  

Can pork fat make dogs sick?

The short answer is, yes. Pork fat can make dogs sick. A very small amount of pork fat isn’t likely to cause problems. However, dogs love the taste of pork fat. Who can blame them? This makes it likely that they will consume a high amount of it, if it’s available. 

Gastrointestinal Problems 

As mentioned earlier, too much fat, including pork fat, can cause gastrointestinal problems. Their stomach can become inflamed. This leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Heartburn and gas can also occur. 


Pancreatitis is a bigger problem than simple stomach upset due to dietary indiscretion. It can be acute or chronic. If it isn’t treated, it can become life threatening. 

The symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Lethargy, loss of appetite, and a hunched back can also occur. Your dog’s stomach may be bloated or painful to the touch.   

Can dogs have raw pork fat?

No, dogs should never eat raw pork fat, under any circumstances. Raw pork can contain trichinella spiralis larvae, which causes the parasitic infection trichinosis. The parasite is generally found in the muscle of the animal, but it’s not worth taking the risk. 

The most concerning aspect of trichinosis is that it can also be transmitted to humans. It doesn’t usually cause severe symptoms in dogs, but humans are more susceptible to the parasite. 

It produces cysts in the muscle tissue. Symptoms of trichinosis can include stomach symptoms, including upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause a fever, lethargy, and muscle pain and inflammation.

Is cooked pork fat ok for dogs?

Generally, no. Pork fat is too high in calories, and can cause stomach upset and pancreatitis. If you choose to feed your dog pork fat, give them very small amounts. 

When Is Pork Fat A Good Idea?

There are some circumstances where feeding your dog pork fat might be a good idea. If they are extremely active, they need a high amount of calories. For example, mushers often feed pork fat to sled dogs. 

The average dog will not experience these conditions, so they have no need to eat pork fat. 

Healthier Options

Just because pork fat isn’t a great option for your dog, doesn’t mean that you can’t supplement their diet with a quality fat. 

Fish oil is one option. It’s particularly good for dogs with allergies, poor coat, or arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties, but it can be a great addition to any dog’s diet. 

You can feed your pooch  salmon, herring, sardines,  and albacore tuna to increase their healthy fat intake. You can also give them a fish oil supplement instead. The typical dosage is 1,000 mg per 30 pounds of body weight. 

Seed oils are another healthy alternative. Flax and hemp oils contain the amino acids that dogs need in their diet. 

If you have coconut oil in your pantry, you can add a spoon to your dog’s food to increase their fat intake. Coconut oil aids digestion as well, making it a great choice for maintaining digestive health. 

What to do if my dog eats pork fat?

Your dog has pigged out, pun intended, on pork fat. What do you do? In most cases, you can manage the symptoms at home. 

However, if your pooch has severe vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody stool, it’s best to consult your vet. You should also keep an eye out for fever or severe lethargy. Simple stomach upset can be resolved with home remedies, but pancreatitis requires veterinary treatment. 

Over the Counter Medications 

Some of the medications humans use to manage dietary indiscretion can also help your pooch. One of these is pepto bismal. Give your dog 1 teaspoon per every 10 pounds of body weight, with the maximum dosage being 4 tablespoons. You can repeat the dosage in 6-8 hours. 

You can also give Pepcid or Famotide. The dosage for these medications is half a 10 mg tablet, or 5 mg, per 10 pounds of body weight. The dosage can be repeated in 12 to 24 hours. 

Managing Stomach Upset With Diet 

If your pooch has stomach upset, it’s best to avoid feeding them for 12 to 24 hours. This gives their digestive system time to settle. After this time, you can them boiled chicken and brown rice. The ratio should be 2 parts rice to 1 part chicken. 

For example, if you plan to feed them 1 cup of food, you’ll feed them 2/3 a cup of rice, and 1/3 a cup of chicken. Be sure that the bones are removed before serving. You should also remove the chicken skin before boiling, to reduce the fat content. 

You can also give your pooch yogurt. Just a few spoonfuls of yogurt with live cultures twice a day can greatly improve your dog’s symptoms. Just like us, dogs have a delicate balance of good bacteria in the gut, known as a microbiome. 

Yogurt with live cultures contains probiotics, which can help replenish the good bacteria in your dog’s gut. You can give them yogurt even when withholding food, and continue to provide it as they transition back to their standard diet.