Dogs love leftovers, and what could be tastier than bacon? Whether bacon is raw or cooked, it’s something that most of our canine companions will go a little crazy over. But what about the grease? The grease from cooked bacon can linger around for hours after cooking and leave behind an irresistible smell.
Bacon grease is one of those things that should be disposed of as soon as you are able to do so. Locking it up in a secure trash can so Fido can’t get to it is highly recommended. While not necessarily toxic, bacon grease has the ability to make your pup sick if they eat too much.
If your dog licked bacon grease clean out of the pan when you weren’t looking, there are some basic steps you can follow to minimize any negative effects. Let’s jump in.
Is Bacon Grease Bad For Dogs?
Although not toxic, bacon grease is not healthy for dogs. It has extremely high levels of fat and salt and has the potential to make Fido feel quite unwell if eaten in large quantities. The additional calories, even in small amounts given as a treat, can lead to weight gain over time.
The high salt content may make your pup thirsty and drink more than usual. Stomach upsets are quite common in my experience too. A small amount of grease is unlikely to do much harm. But, if you are unsure or if your pet is sick in any way, then you should ring your veterinarian for advice.
My Dog Ate Bacon Grease. What Now?
Once you’ve figured out that the trash can has been raided and all the grease is gone, there are some steps you’ll want to take. These steps will help ensure you minimize any potential negative side effects of bacon grease consumption.
Step 1: Don’t Panic & Clean Up
Firstly, don’t panic. That can make the situation worse and cause hasty decision-making. Clean up any leftover grease. Make sure you remove the container as soon as possible to stop them from continuing to eat any more. Put Fido someplace safe where he cannot access any more grease.
Step 2: Gather Information
Try and work out how much he might have eaten. Figure out whether there was anything else he might have consumed that could cause problems. This might include the packaging or container that the grease was in. It could also include other potentially harmful things you had in your trashcan, like steak bones or pork bones.
Step 3: Check For Signs of Illness
Are they ok, or are they showing signs of abdominal discomfort? Have they been throwing up or had any diarrhea? Do you notice any symptoms of lethargy? Are they drooling a lot? Make note of any potential symptoms.
Step 4: Call Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian will want to know how much your pet has eaten, the approximate size or weight of your pet, and whether there is anything else they may have eaten, such as the container the bacon grease was in.
Step 5: Follow Your Vet’s Advice
If anything else was eaten, your veterinarian may suggest bringing your pet into the clinic for an examination. However, more often than not, they will ask you to monitor them at home and call again if you notice anything concerning. Either way, you should follow their instructions.
Step 6: Prevention
Make sure they can’t access any more grease in the future to stop any further problems from occurring. Get a secure trash can, or store any potential tasty items in a trashcan outdoors to prevent your pup from getting into it in the future.
What Happens if a Dog Eats Bacon Grease?
If your dog eats bacon grease, the most likely outcome will be a stomach upset. The high fat and salt content can be quite irritating to your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. It can cause bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. Usually, this is quite mild and self-limiting. But, in some cases could be more serious depending on how much they have eaten.
Some dogs can also develop acute pancreatitis. This is a serious condition whereby the pancreas (a small organ in the gastrointestinal tract) becomes very inflamed. The pancreas is responsible for releasing enzymes that are responsible for helping with the digestion of fats on a normal day-to-day basis.
But if it is suddenly challenged by an inappropriately high amount of fat (or sometimes also by high cortisol/stress levels), it can become overworked. This leads to inflammation and causes the pancreas to stop working effectively. Sadly, I have seen episodes of pancreatitis caused by raiding the bins and eating fatty leftovers on many occasions.
Pancreatitis is a very painful condition creating marked abdominal discomfort. It can also contribute to other symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Animals with pancreatitis are usually off their food and can become very dehydrated and sick. In my experience, most of these dogs do well with prompt treatment but can become very sick if their symptoms are ignored. Pancreatitis can sometimes be fatal.
What Will My Veterinarian Need to Do?
If your veterinarian would like you to bring your dog into the clinic, then you should bring them down as soon as you can for an examination. Your veterinarian will look for any signs of dehydration, such as dry pale gums, sunken eyes, or loss of skin elasticity. They will also assess your pet for any signs of abdominal discomfort as well as give them a general check-over.
Milder cases of tummy upset may be treated with a bland diet for a few days. I might also recommend other symptomatic treatments such as antinausea medication or probiotics (good gut bacteria to help with diarrhea).
More severe cases will need further investigation. Your veterinarian will usually advise a blood sample as a general health screen but also to look for markers that may indicate pancreatitis and dehydration. Certain enzymes may be elevated on a blood test and point towards pancreatic inflammation. If your pup is dehydrated, this may show elevations in kidney parameters as well as an increased concentration of red blood cells. Your veterinarian will talk you through your pet’s results and the best course of action.
They may also recommend diagnostic imaging such as an X-ray or ultrasound to rule out other potential causes of vomiting and abdominal pain, such as obstructions caused by foreign bodies (like food packaging, bones, toys, and bedding). Based on their symptoms, it can be easy to presume a dog has pancreatitis after eating bacon grease, but I have known cases where the dog has also eaten something else that the owner was unaware of.
What Treatment Could My Dog Need?
If your dog is very sick and dehydration is suspected, then they may need intravenous fluids, which are given via a drip. They will be kept in the hospital during this time for monitoring.
There is no specific treatment for pancreatitis- all therapies are aimed at treating the symptoms. Fluids will help counteract dehydration, pain relief will help them feel much more comfortable, and anti-nausea medications will help reduce any vomiting and make them feel more like eating again. Antibiotics may also be given to prevent any secondary infections.
Once your vet is happy that their symptoms are under control and they are eating and drinking again, they will usually be allowed home for you to keep an eye on them there. A special diet might be prescribed, which will be low in fat and easy to digest. Some dogs that are prone to bouts of pancreatitis may need to stay on this diet long-term, and I always advise owners to avoid giving their dogs any fatty leftovers or table scraps in the future.
Will My Dog Be OK?
In most cases, dogs will be fine after eating bacon grease. Particularly if you act quickly after it happens. The prognosis tends to be better for dogs that have only eaten a little amount. Dogs that have eaten lots of grease will be much more likely to develop side effects.
A larger dog can handle greater quantities than a smaller dog. So, size is also a factor. Also, it is worth noting that some breeds of dogs are much more likely to develop pancreatitis than others. Breeds that I see very commonly for pancreatitis episodes in clinic include Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers, and Miniature Poodles.
The best way to ensure Fido doesn’t eat grease is to prevent him from getting to it in the first place. Most dogs are scavengers. This means you should ensure any leftovers are kept well out of reach and that all garbage cans are well secured. This will prevent any late-night trashcan raids for any disposed of grease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can bacon grease cause pancreatitis in dogs?
Yes, the high levels of saturated fats in bacon grease can cause inflammation of the pancreas in dogs. If you want to give your dog any leftovers as a treat, then I recommend giving them some plain, cooked skinless chicken or turkey breast or cooked white fish rather than fatty, salty meats and grease.
What are the signs of pancreatitis in dogs?
The most common signs of pancreatitis are lethargy, not eating as much as usual, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dogs may also show signs of stomach pain, such as whining or adopting unusual postures to try and get more comfortable. If you notice any signs of being off-color, then you should get them checked out by a veterinarian.
Can bacon grease kill a dog?
Bacon grease is not in itself toxic, so it is very unlikely to kill a dog. However, if they eat a large volume, they could develop a very upset stomach or acute pancreatitis. Left untreated, this could be dangerous, and some dogs can die because of pancreatitis.
Does bacon grease make dogs’ coats shiny?
Small volumes of fats are essential in your dog’s diet to help with their overall health but also for their skin and coat condition. However, bacon fat is not a healthy way to provide this due to the high volumes of saturated fats and salt.
In summary, bacon grease is not toxic to dogs. But if enough is eaten, it can cause upset stomachs and, in rare cases, pancreatitis. Try not to give them any grease as a treat or as part of their regular diet at all.
If Fido does consume grease in a large quantity, then call your veterinarian for advice. Dogs love the taste of fatty, salty leftovers, but try to stick to healthier alternatives, or even better, keep your dog to their normal diet to stop any problems occurring!