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My Dog Just Ate Raw Bacon! Is Uncooked Bacon Harmful to Dogs?

It's pretty universal that dogs just love bacon. But if your dog ate a piece of raw bacon that just dropped on the floor, you might be concerned about its safety. Veterinarian Rebecca MacMillan walks through what you should expect, and your next steps.

Rebecca MacMillan

Last Updated: April 5, 2021 | 7 min read

Dog Ate Raw Bacon

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate raw bacon and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

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?

Uncooked Pork Meat
A small amount of bacon should not be harmful if consumed.

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?

Guilty Jack Russell
There is no reason to be alarmed if a small amount was consumed, but you’ll want to monitor your pup.

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 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?

Dog Dining on Bacon on Toast
It is unlikely Fido will fall ill from eating a little bit of bacon, other than a tummy ache.

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 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?

Dog With Tummy Ache at the Vet
Your vet may want to evaluate your pup for more testing if a large amount of bacon was consumed.

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.).

Possible Treatments

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?

Sliced Pork Meat
More common than not, there will be little impact after Fido snacking on some uncooked bacon.

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

  • Can raw meat kill a dog?

    Bacon is not in itself toxic, so it is very unlikely to kill your dog. However, if they eat a large volume, they could develop a very upset stomach or more serious pancreatitis. Left untreated this could be dangerous, and some dogs can die because of pancreatitis.

  • Can a dog get worms from eating raw bacon? 

    The only type of worm he could potentially catch is Trichinella spiralis, which can be found in raw pork products. Raw meat, particularly the muscle, can contain cysts. Once eaten these can hatch out as larvae and cause health issues in our pets.

  • Can bacon give dogs diarrhea? 

    A small amount may cause no ill effect, but in larger quantities, a tummy upset could occur. A large dog eating one slice of bacon for example is usually not a problem, but if a small dog eats lots then the high levels of fat and salt could be quite irritating This is especially true if your dog has a sensitive stomach.

  • Can dogs get trichinosis from bacon?

    Yes, it is possible and is the reason why we would not recommend dogs (or people!) eating raw or undercooked pork products. The risk is generally low in dogs but can affect those that have poor immune systems. It can be hard to diagnose as symptoms can be a bit vague but include stomach upsets, fevers, and muscle weakness.

  • What does raw bacon do to dogs?

    In most cases, a small amount of bacon will cause no harm. However, in some dogs, it could trigger an upset stomach or even an episode of pancreatitis. In rare cases, they could pick up a parasitic worm which could cause ill health.

  • Can dogs eat raw bacon fat?

    Extra fat in a dog’s diet is not advised, as it could upset your dog’s stomach or even contribute to an episode of pancreatitis. It will also add additional calories and lead to weight gain in your pet. Stick to healthier treats such as cooked chicken breast or white fish, or better still keep to your dog’s usual diet.

  • Can dogs eat raw smoked bacon?

    Smoked bacon refers to the way the bacon has been flavored and preserved, usually via holding the raw bacon over wood smoke. This does not make the meat more toxic at all, but it also doesn’t cook it. However, we would still urge caution when giving raw bacon of any kind due to the issues that have been discussed previously.

Final Thoughts

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!

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