Hot dogs are a must-have at any barbecue. Slathered in ketchup and mustard and served alongside pasta salad, these juicy meats are a summertime staple. But what if our little furballs of feline affection start nosing around our barbecue spread? Are they welcome to join us?
Can Cats Eat Hot Dogs?
The question, “Can a cat eat a hot dog?” In a nutshell, “yes,” says Pámela Colareta, DVM of Florida Behavior Service. Should cats be allowed to eat hot dogs? In all honesty, no. ”
Hot dogs are not appropriate treats for cats because of a few logistical issues, in addition to being less than healthy (more on that later). Colareta suggests giving cats treats no bigger than 1/4 inch in diameter, so hot dogs, even when sliced into pieces, are too big for many cats to safely eat. Something else? Instructional best methods.
Colareta says, “We want to make sure that we are using treats with your cats strategically.” This means rewarding good behavior rather than rewarding them for being cute.
Treats must be easily accessible for this to be possible. Due to their short shelf life, hot dogs can’t be kept indefinitely at home. ”
Aren’t Cats Carnivores?
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they can’t survive without regularly eating meat. Small birds and mammals like sparrows, mice, squirrels, and voles are the primary sources of this in the wild.
The meat from these animals is high in healthy fats and protein but low in sodium. Quality cat foods of today may substitute other meats like beef, chicken, or salmon, but they still aim to provide the same nutritional profile.
What Are the Risks of Feeding Cats Hot Dogs?
Hot dogs aren’t exactly high in nutritional value. Consuming excessive amounts of these processed meats can lead to health problems in both humans and felines due to their high sodium and fat content. Hot dogs are bad for cats because they can cause:
- loss of appetite
When training your cat with treats, “though a single tiny piece of a hot dog may not cause these signs,” Colareta says, “you are likely using quite a bit of treats per training session.” If you feed your cat hot dogs in these situations, it may become ill and require medical attention. ”
Colareta advises against giving your cat barbecue scraps of any kind, even though some varieties of hot dogs (such as all-beef, chicken, and turkey dogs) may be slightly healthier. They are still too big and unwieldy to be used as cat treats.
What If My Cat Already Ate a Hot Dog?
Don’t freak out if your cat eats part of your hot dog. It’s likely that he’ll be fine. Even though a small amount of hot dog is probably not the best snack for your cat, giving it a taste probably won’t kill it.
You should be concerned if your cat ate more than a few tiny pieces. Although a single hot dog probably won’t kill you, the high sodium content could be bad for your health.
Find out how much sodium your cat has consumed by looking at the hot dog’s nutritional information. You should keep an eye out for signs of sodium poisoning if he’s consumed more than 1 gram (1000 mg).
Seek emergency veterinary care if your cat experiences any adverse reaction, including lethargy, seizures, or tremors. That’s the absolute worst-case scenario, of course.
The vast majority of hot dogs do not contain enough of anything to cause serious harm, but it is best to err on the side of caution.
What Should I Do If My Cat Accidentally Ate a Hot Dog?
If your cat sneaks a hot dog, keep an eye on her for the next 48 hours for signs of poisoning like vomiting, diarrhea, or a loss of appetite. Colareta recommends seeking help from your cat’s primary care veterinarian if you observe any of these symptoms.
However, according to Colareta, “if your cat steals a hot dog, we likely have a counter surfer, which can pose a greater risk.” When cats jump up near the stove or when there are knives or other sharp objects on the counter, they put themselves at risk for serious injury. ”
Colareta suggests providing enrichment on the floor to prevent your cat from jumping up on the counters to investigate.
She recommends keeping them occupied and out of the kitchen by giving them their “favorite toys” or “favorite treats” hidden in “food toys.” And obviously, you should never abandon delicious-smelling food.
What Makes Meat Cat-Safe
Cats’ robust immune systems were evolved to deal with a wide variety of different types of wildlife. In fact, they tend to be highly resistant to infections caused by bacteria and the like.
That’s why healthy felines have no problem eating raw meat but humans do. However, cats aren’t built to deal with the same stresses that humans do.
One reason is that they are unable to benefit nutritionally from carbohydrates because of their digestive system. The animals they eat convert carbohydrates into protein for them.
Also, the sodium intake that humans have is a new experience for them. Dehydration and sodium-ion poisoning, brought on by eating too much salt, can cause nausea, vomiting, tremors, convulsions, and fatigue, among other symptoms. Toxic levels of sodium chloride can be reached with as little as one gram of salt, or less than a teaspoon.
Last but not least, cats thrive on a moderately low-fat diet. Fat is necessary for cats, but it shouldn’t outweigh the protein in their diet.
At least 25% of the weight of cat food should come from protein, and no more than 10% should come from fat. Cats can develop weight problems and other health issues from eating too much fat.
Even though hot dogs aren’t on the approved list of human foods for cats, there are other meat-based treats you can give your furry friend safely.
Freeze-dried chicken and shrimp are two examples of healthier alternatives that can be easily stored, as is freeze-dried beef, Colareta says. You can’t go wrong with Churu, a smearable treat that most cats absolutely go crazy for. ”
You can also give your cat small amounts of the following meats:
- Boneless, fully-prepared turkey
- Chicken breasts without the skin and bones, boiled
Treating our little carnivores can be fun, but maybe not with a hot dog. Better options exist, including other protein sources.
Cats benefit from eating lean meats like chicken or turkey, as well as smaller amounts of fatty meats, scrambled eggs, hard cheeses, and butter. If you’re not confident in your baking skills, store-bought snacks are always a safe bet.