Can Dogs Eat Lunch Meat? 7 Secrets To Find Out

While cooked meats and other ready-to-eat deli products may be delicious and convenient for a quick snack or sandwich, they are not at all dog-friendly.

We’ll go over the risks of giving your dog lunch meat and offer some alternatives that are better for their health in the article that follows.

What is Lunch Meat? 

Lunch meat, also known as deli meat, is meat that has already been cooked or processed. It’s widely available in most grocery stores, and it’s typically sold thinly sliced.

Salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, mortadella, pastrami, turkey breast, and roast beef are all typical examples of lunch meats.

At 70 calories, 2g of fat, 1g of saturated fat, 679.8mg of sodium, 4g of carbs, and 3g of sugar, two ounces of lunch meat isn’t exactly a health food.

Should you Feed Leftover Meat to Your Dog

If your dog is giving you the “puppy eyes” while you’re eating a turkey sandwich, chances are you’ll share a bite with it.

You might wonder what the problem is with that. There’s no need to worry if this is something that happens once or twice. In contrast, this could become a major problem if you intend to feed your dog deli meat on a regular basis.

The sodium and preservatives found in lunch meats (also known as slices, deli meat, salami, and other similar names) make them unsuitable as a source of nutrition for your dog.

The majority of processed meats contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as garlic, onions, or spices. Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, can be caused by eating fatty meat scraps as well.

Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified most of these lunch meats as being highly carcinogenic.

Finally, consider this: lunch meat isn’t the healthiest choice for humans, much less dogs.

How can Meat be Bad for Dogs?

People have been feeding their dogs meat for years, so how could it possibly be bad for them?

Too Much Salt

Most meat has salt added to it to increase its saltiness and lengthen its shelf life. It may seem harmless to you, but even a small amount of salt can be harmful to your dog.

  Can Dogs Eat Octopus? 7 Useful Things For You

The canine digestive system simply isn’t built to handle high levels of sodium. Salty meat can cause an electrolyte imbalance in dogs, which can lead to dehydration and other issues.

You shouldn’t feed your dog any more than two ounces of sliced turkey per day because that amount contains about 700 milligrams of sodium.

Dogs require between 0.5 and 1.5 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams of dog food per day.


Additives are commonly used in the meat processing industry to inhibit bacterial growth, delay spoilage, and enhance flavor.

Sodium nitrate/nitrite, sodium erythorbate, sodium phosphate, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are all salts that are frequently used as additives.

Example: cured deli meat can have as much as 500 mcg of nitrate per 100 grams. Nitrates aid in the preservation of meat, but eating too much of it can cause cancer.

Sugars such as honey, dextrose, and fructose (fruit sugar) are also added to deli meat. There’s more to it than that, though.

Both your dog and you will suffer terrible consequences if you feed them deli meat, which is laden with antibiotics and growth hormones.


A dog’s digestive tract can be easily irritated by the spices found in most processed meats, leading to vomiting and diarrhea.

Furthermore, spices can aggravate preexisting conditions like allergies and pancreatitis.

Onions, garlic, salt, nutmeg, cocoa powder, chili powder, paprika, pepper, and mace are just some of the spices that should never be given to a dog.

Empty Calories

There isn’t much nutritional value in most types of processed meat. That means they are mostly just saturated and trans fat and added sugar and provide little in the way of nutritional value.

Most foods high in empty calories also tend to be high in sodium and artificial additives. Simply put, your dog will gain weight as a result of all that.

For example, the high-fat animal parts used to make your typical turkey sausage make it tasty but also high in saturated fat.

Routinely giving your dog turkey sausages is one surefire way to ensure he develops health issues with his heart.

Too Much Fat

Consuming a diet high in fat, like the kind found in lunch meats, can lead to pancreatitis in your dog.

If your dog does not tolerate lunch meats well, you will see symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Stop feeding it processed meats like salami and sausages immediately if this happens.

Sulfite Content as Preservatives

Dogs can suffer from thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency or even die from eating deli meats due to the sulfite preservatives used in their processing.

Thiamine deficiency has been linked to anorexia, nausea, and vomiting. Unilateral pupil dilation and muscle weakness are signs of thiamine deficiency.

  Can Dogs Eat Naan Bread? 2 Useful Things For You

What to do if my Dog Eats Leftover Meat

The first thing you should do if you discover that your dog has eaten some of the leftover meat is to estimate how much it ate. If it had only a little, then it wouldn’t be a big deal.

However, you should rush your dog to the vet if it ingested a large (or unknown) amount. After examining the stomach, the vet will advise you on the best course of action.

When in doubt, call the vet immediately; don’t wait for symptoms (like vomiting or diarrhea) to appear from eating too much processed meat.

How To Safely Feed Your Dog Deli Meat?

In the event that your dog is particularly fond of lunch meat, or if you just want to give your pet the occasional treat, you can take some preventative measures to ensure its health.

But remember that ‘less is more’ when it comes to deli meat, no matter the breed of your dog, its size, or any other factor.

Avoiding a potential health problem by overfeeding deli meat is one of the best ways to reward your dog with cold cuts. Here are some additional precautions you can take:

Buy Low-sodium Options

Low-sodium and sugar-added lunch meats are commercially available.

You can give your dog a tasty treat without worrying about giving it too much salt by selecting low- or no-sodium options, such as chicken breast, turkey, or roast beef.

Look For Unprocessed Meats

If you want to give your pet an unprocessed meat treat, you can buy lean and fresh proteins like chicken or turkey and slow-bake them. By doing so, you won’t have to stress over whether or not your dog is getting enough fat, sodium, or nitrates.

Try Nitrate-free Products

These days, it’s easy to find deli meats without added nitrates at any supermarket. Nitrate-free options for your dog include uncured turkey breast and chicken breast.

Be sure to verify that the nitrate-free label does not have an asterisk (*) next to it, as this typically denotes that the product contains nitrates.

Many pet owners have been duped into thinking they were buying nitrate-free deli meat for their dogs.

Alternatives to Leftover Meat for Your Dog

Here are some healthy alternatives to feeding your dog scraps of meat.

Cooked Chicken

When you run out of dog food, you can feed your pet some cooked chicken. You can feel good about giving it to your pet because it’s high in protein and they love the taste.


Carrots are rich in beta carotene, Vitamin A, and fiber, and they don’t add many calories to your diet.

  Can Dogs Eat Crab Apples? 10 Facts About It

In addition, they are beneficial to a dog’s teeth. However, you should take care to ensure that the slices are not too large, as this could lead to choking.


Cooked oatmeal is the best option if your dog has an allergy to wheat. Oatmeal, once cooked, is full of soluble fiber, making it a good choice for canines with digestive issues.

Specifically, you should look for oatmeal that hasn’t been flavored or sweetened in any way.


Omega-3 fatty acids, which are plentiful in salmon, contribute to the dog’s coat’s health and shine. As an added bonus, it helps keep your dog healthy.

The addition of salmon oil to their food or a home-cooked meal of salmon is a healthy alternative to commercial dog food.


Given its high water content, watermelon is an excellent way to ensure your dog stays hydrated. It’s high vitamin content (especially B-6, A, and C) will help your little pal’s immune system fight off illness.

The seeds should be removed before feeding them to dogs because they can cause a blockage in the dog’s digestive tract.

Green Beans

Finally, green beans make a healthy substitution for processed meats. The vitamin K, protein, iron, and calcium content is exceptionally high.

If you decide to feed your dog cooked green beans, keep in mind that the beans should not be seasoned in any way.

Other Toxic Foods for Dogs

Ingesting large amounts of certain common foods can be fatal for dogs. Among those are:

  • As theobromine is present in chocolate, it is potentially toxic to dogs.
  • Caffeine in coffee and tea can lead to jitteriness and nausea.
  • Tossed with onions and garlic
  • Dry fruits like grapes and raisin
  • Avocado
  • Fruits with a high citric acid content
  • Cinnamon
  • Coconut
  • Nuts

Final Thoughts

To be fair, it’s only natural that dog owners would want to find the healthiest treats possible for their beloved canine children.

However, the welfare of your dog as a whole should be your top priority when caring for it, not just its preferences.

If you and your furry friend can do without deli meat, that’s probably the best choice.

But if your dog is a finicky eater who can’t get enough of the flavor of lunch meat, you can try some of the alternatives I’ve outlined above without worrying about sacrificing your dog’s nutritional needs.

Further, you can always consult your vet about the diet and treats you give your dog. If you’re looking for trustworthy, canine-specific information, your vet is your best bet.

Whether or not deli meat is safe for your dog depends heavily on the dog’s current health status.

Leave a Comment