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Health & Wellness

Can dogs eat hot dogs?

Yes, but you should pay close attention to the ingredients before sharing this bite.

Most dog parents are familiar with reaching into their bag of store-bought dog treats and grasping at crumbs. The next best option is to open the fridge and see what pet-friendly snack you can treat your drooling pup to instead.

However, you'll want to pause before tearing off a piece of hot dog for your furry friend, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch's on-staff veterinarian, says. Sometimes veterinarians will recommend using hot dogs, including beef, turkey and pork-based varieties, as occasional high-value treats. Still, you'll want to read the ingredients in your hot dog brand before serving. Here's what you need to know about this snack. 

Are hot dogs bad for dogs?

Some veterinarians recommend using hot dogs as high-value training treats, but you should always contact your veterinarian before introducing your pup to a new snack. If your vet does give you the OK to give your dog hot dog bites, make sure to read the ingredients. Some ingredients found in common hot dogs, like sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate, artificial sweeteners (like xylitol), and garlic and onion powder, are toxic to pups or can cause dangerous reactions like vomiting or diarrhea, Dr. McCullough says. If you find a hot dog without those ingredients, then it's probably OK for your dog to enjoy in moderation.

Hot dogs may be high in fat and salt, too, which isn't great for dogs' diets. She adds that there may also be preservatives or sweeteners in hot dogs, which can cause obesity and an unbalanced diet when over consumed. 

This snack can also be a choking hazard, she adds. If you think your dog is choking, look out for pawing at their mouth, gagging or retching, coughing, turning blue, silence or collapsing. When a dog is choking, it's essential to act fast. Swipe your dog's throat using your finger, perform the Heimlich maneuver or do CPR.

What happens if a dog eats a hot dog?

Don't panic if your dog eats a bite of a hot dog as they'll likely be OK, Dr. McCullough says. However, contact your veterinarian if your pup starts showing signs of sickness. 

RELATED: Can dogs eat shrimp?

Can dogs eat raw hot dogs?

Most hot dogs come precooked, so they're not necessarily raw, Dr. McCullough says. However, they can be contaminated with bacteria, so if you find a safe brand for your pup to enjoy, you should cook them up before sharing.

What's an alternative to hot dogs?

If you're looking for an alternative to hot dogs, Dr. McCullough recommends feeding your pet boiled chicken breast without seasonings (like onion or garlic, which are toxic to dogs) or oil. Also, keep in mind that treats, including bites of plain chicken, should not exceed more than 10% of your pup's daily caloric intake. 

‍Happy snacking

Hot dogs aren’t always the safest or most nutritious snack for pups, which is why it's good to reach out to your veterinarian before sharing some with your pet. Some hot dog brands may be OK for your dog to try, however, Dr. McCullough suggests boiling some plain, unseasoned chicken as a healthy alternative.

We’re confident hot dogs aren’t the only human food your dog would love to sink their teeth into (cue the drool). Check out our series “Can dogs eat ... ?” to learn more about which human foods are off-limits and what’s fair game.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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