Did your dog swipe a piece of uncooked bacon off the cooking sheet while you weren’t looking? Perhaps they dug into the bacon package while you were unloading groceries and got sidetracked? We know that dogs love bacon and other types of cooked meat. Those generally pose little risk to our canine companions. But what about when it’s raw?
Dogs are scavengers by nature. So given half the chance, they will gobble any tasty bits of food left within their reach, cooked or not. If your canine companion has gotten hold of uncooked bacon, then you might be wondering whether it is going to cause any problems for your pup.
If it’s just a small amount of raw bacon, Fido is likely going to be fine. In this article, we will explore what might happen if your dog ate uncooked bacon, and when it’s prudent to make a phone call to your veterinarian.
Can Dogs Eat Uncooked Bacon?
Although not toxic, bacon is not the healthiest treat for consumption. Just like ham, both raw and cooked bacon contains quite high levels of salt and fat. This isn’t good for our pets in large quantities. The high salt content may make your dog thirsty and drink more than usual. Stomach upsets are quite common too.
If the uncooked bacon had gone bad or was in the trash when eaten, then this could be more problematic. Meat that is past its use-by date can go rancid and contain high levels of bacteria, making the chance of illness and tummy upset higher.
It is also worth noting that raw pork products can contain a parasite called Trichinella spiralis which is a type of worm. It affects both dogs and humans and is usually caught from eating undercooked or raw meat from pigs. The worm cysts from the raw meat hatch into larvae. They then migrate around the body where they can form cysts in the dog’s muscles. Infection is more likely in dogs that have weakened immune systems.
A small amount is unlikely to do much harm. But it would not be advisable to actively give it as a treat to your dog. If your pup has eaten a large amount of meat or is unwell in any way, you should ring your veterinarian for advice.
My Dog Ate Raw Bacon, What Now?
If your pup just consumed uncooked bacon, there are some steps you’ll want to follow. Please note that if any type of plastic packaging or plastic wrap was consumed, we recommend you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent the possibility of a bowel obstruction.
Step 1: Secure Fido & Remove Leftovers
First, secure your pup. Place them in a secure location like a bedroom, or their dog crate. Then start the cleanup process. Remove the container or packaging as soon as possible to stop your canine companion from continuing to eat any more of the bacon. This means you should throw away the package, or leftover bits laying around.
Step 2: Assess The Situation
Try and work out how much he might have eaten and whether there was anything else he might have consumed that could cause problems. Make sure your pup didn’t consume the packaging or the container that the bacon was in. If he raided the fridge or shopping bag to get it then you may want to check for any other missing items.
Step 3: Watch For Warning Signs
Evaluate and watch for any troubling signs. Watch for any types of pain or signs of abdominal discomfort. Other signs include if regurgitation or diarrhea. These can both be signs that it may be time to call the vet, depending on your pup’s size and the amount consumed.
Step 4: Call Your Vet
If your dog has eaten a large quantity, or if he has eaten any packaging, then call your veterinarian immediately. This is particularly important if the meat had gone bad and was in the trash can. Any undigestable packaging can cause a bowel obstruction, which is considered life-threatening for canines.
Step 5: Follow Your Vet’s Instructions
Your veterinarian may suggest heading to the clinic for an examination. They may also suggest just monitoring your pup at home depending on the volume eaten and your pup’s overall wellness. Follow whatever guidance your veterinarian provides you.
Step 6: Prevent Future Incidents
Make sure your dog can’t access any more bacon in the future to stop any further problems from occurring. Consider putting fridge locks on the refrigerator and keeping food well out of reach on the kitchen worktops. You ma
Will Raw Bacon Make My Dog Sick?
A small quantity of uncooked bacon is very unlikely to cause issues. If your pup eats a large amount, then the most likely outcome will be an upset stomach. The high fat and salt content can be quite irritating to your pet’s gastrointestinal tract (guts). It can cause bloating, vomiting and diarrhea. Usually, this is quite mild and self-limiting. In some cases, it could be more serious depending on how much they have eaten.
Some dogs can also develop acute pancreatitis which is a serious condition whereby the pancreas (a small organ in the gastrointestinal tract that helps with fat digestion) becomes very inflamed. This can happen with any food items high in sodium, including cooked bacon, or bacon grease.
This is a very painful condition causing severe abdominal discomfort and can also contribute to other symptoms such as panting and pacing, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Animals with pancreatitis typically don’t show interest in their food, start vomiting, and can become very dehydrated and ill.
Raw pork products can contain the cysts of a parasite that causes trichinosis in dogs. These infections can be quite hard to diagnose. Sometimes animals show no signs at all, or they have very non-specific symptoms such as stomach upsets, changes in appetite, fever, and muscle weakness. It is just best to try and avoid them eating raw pork products in the first place.
What Will My Veterinarian Do?
If your veterinarian thinks you must bring your pup into the clinic then you should take them in as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will check your dog over initially to look for any signs of dehydration. They will also look for pain in the abdomen as well as giving them a general check over.
Milder cases of tummy upset may be treated with a bland diet for a few days. There may also be some symptomatic treatment such as anti-nausea 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. They will also look for markers that may indicate pancreatitis and dehydration. Specific blood tests and fecal samples can detect whether Trichinella spiralis is present. But, as this infection is uncommon, diagnostics may not be run unless there appears to be additional problems.
They may also recommend diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or ultrasounds. This will help to rule out other potential causes of vomiting and abdominal pain, such as obstructions caused by foreign bodies (from things like paper packaging, bones, toys, bedding, etc.).
In most cases, treatment is not required, but if your dog is unwell and dehydration is suspected, then he may need intravenous fluids which are given via a drip. They will be kept in the hospital during this time for monitoring.
If pancreatitis is present then fluids will help counteract dehydration, pain relief will help your dog feel much more comfortable, and antinausea medications will help reduce any vomiting and make it feel more like eating again. Antibiotics may also be given to prevent any secondary infections.
If trichinosis has been diagnosed then specific worming treatments may be required.
Once your vet is happy that any symptoms are under control and he is eating and drinking again, your canine companion 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.
Will My Dog Be OK?
Many dogs will usually be fine after eating a small amount of uncooked bacon. Dogs that have eaten a large amount will be much more likely to develop side effects though. A large dog can handle greater quantities of bacon than a smaller dog, so size is a factor too.
It is also worth noting that some breeds of dogs are much more likely to go on to develop pancreatitis than others. Breeds that are seen very commonly for pancreatitis episodes include cocker spaniels, miniature schnauzers, and miniature poodles.
The advice would be not provide any bacon (raw or cooked) in the first place and to look at healthier alternative treats. Pork rinds and bacon rinds should also be avoided.
Since all dogs are scavengers, you should ensure any leftovers are kept well out of reach and that all garbage cans are well secured. This will help stop them from hunting for any disposed of raw meat. If your pup is able to open and raid your refrigerator, then it may be worth looking into childproof lock-type devices to stop this from happening!
Frequently Asked Questions
In summary, uncooked bacon is not toxic to dogs and there are far worse things they could eat. It can on occasion though cause upset stomachs and more serious conditions like pancreatitis. Try to prevent your dog from getting hold of uncooked products by keeping them well out of reach or in a lockable fridge if necessary.
If your dog does consume raw bacon in a large quantity then ring your veterinarian for advice, especially if they are showing symptoms of being unwell. Dogs love the taste of fatty salty meat so try and remove temptation by keeping it out well of sight!