Maybe it’s a day out at the fun fair with your family and your furry family member, or maybe your pup is sitting optimistically by the grill at the summer barbecue, lips licked in barely contained anticipation.
Our canine companions certainly like hot dogs – can dogs eat hot dogs? Perhaps more aptly, should dogs eat hot dogs? Let’s examine these questions in more detail here.
Are hot dogs good for dogs?
Well, it’s safe to say that hot dogs by themselves are pretty safe for dogs to eat.
That goes the same for beef hot dogs and pork hot dogs as it would chicken hot dogs or turkey hot dogs – the meat isn’t important, as a pooch will happily gulp down any such hot dog you offer to him or her.
But whether hot dogs are good for canines, well – unfortunately it’s much the same for our pets as it is for we human beings.
In short, hot dogs will lead to weight gain over time in your pet if it’s all they eat, much as you might expect their human masters to suffer similar effects.
Nevertheless, the meat content of hot dogs and their ability to be served to your dog as nicely sized and packaged portions mean there’s little to worry about here.
Sure, your dog may well try and gulp them down too fast from time to time, so keep an eye out for that, but by and large hot dogs given to dogs are as effectively shaped as it gets.
You can always cut them down a little smaller too, to avoid choking hazards – especially for excited puppies or little dog breeds.
As long as your dog is getting a lot of exercise and avoiding eating too much in the way of fatty foods, there’s every reason to say yes to giving your dog a hot dog on occasion.
Remember though, it’s more recommended that they’re regarded as treats or the occasional more rich comfort food option.
Your dog’s existing, specially formulated dog food contains all the ingredients that he or she needs to live a long, happy and healthy life with you.
It’s best you keep the hot dogs you give to your pet as plain as possible. It can be tempting to load up on sauces, flavours and other goodies, but they’re set to do more long term harm than good.
There’s also the risk of accidentally pairing hot dogs with something that your dog finds poisonous – our beloved pets are often more sensitive than we realise.
Dangers of hot dogs for dogs
The only dangers of feeding hot dogs to your dog in and of themselves are the choking hazard they can present, as we discussed earlier on.
For smaller dogs, younger dogs, older dogs or even just pooches known to try and gobble down their food before anyone knows they’ve got it, biting off quite literally more than your dog can chew is always a risk.
Cutting hot dogs up into bite-sized pieces is always a good plan because of this.
However, the main risks of feeding hot dogs to your dog come from what gets paired with these delicious treats – and we don’t just mean the buns.
Condiments are often to blame here, but so are what gets added to hot dogs to make them that more appetising to we human beings.
Of these, garlic and onions are the culprits likely to do your dog the most harm in the shortest amount of time.
In fact, both onions and garlic are toxic to dogs, as are any derivative products from them, like garlic powder, onion powder or the like.
A tasty tangy relish slathered over a hot dog is also often a risk because of this.
Onions and garlic have severe toxic effects on dogs, often leading to spasms, fits, fainting and worse.
It’s important that you make sure your family members and guests are up to speed on this at the summer barbecue, for instance, to make sure that nobody well-meaning gives your dog any burgers or hot dogs with onions on them.
Dogs don’t know how to stop themselves when faced with the irresistible meaty aroma, and certainly don’t know how to stop themselves from eating what’s bad for them.
Luckily, it takes a good amount of onions or garlic to really cause a dog harm, but it’s still not a risk worth taking.
At the less severe end of the spectrum, there is the question of condiments.
Of course, spicy things like mustard or chilli sauce are already a no-no for your dog on a hot dog, and are likely to have some onion or garlic content without your realising sometimes too if you read the ingredients list on the jar.
However, sauces like ketchup can really add to your dog’s calorie intake without your realising. The sugar content of the humble red sauce is higher than is often realised, offset by that tangy flavour.
Your dog doesn’t process sugars and sodium content very well at all, and it can cause longer-term health complications if your pet is overindulgent.
Talking of salt content, hot dogs from jars or cans that are stored in brine – think frankfurters and the like – are somewhat more risky to dogs because of their sodium content.
Steer clear of these for hot dogs for your dog if you’re able, and certainly don’t try and pour any of that salty water and juice they’re stored into your dog’s bowl.
It’s not a treat for your pet at all, and more likely to introduce sodium related complications to your furry friend’s system in the long term.
With respect to vegan and vegetarian hot dogs, it’s likely best you avoid feeding these to your dog too.
The ingredients used in making them mean they’re far more likely to include onions and garlic within them, meaning you have no control over clearing out the condiments to try and keep your pet safe.
Onion and garlic toxicity in dogs is brutal, and best avoided.
How many hot dogs can a dog eat daily?
Hot dogs are a delicious treat for your dog, and if he or she had his or her way, they’d be the cornerstone of every meal.
Unfortunately, just as with human diets, it’s important to show some restraint and not always plump for flavour over nutritional value every time – a reality our dogs need to face just as much as us!
Even the largest breeds of dog ought to not be eating more than a hot dog daily, and ideally you’ll not be dishing them up so regularly – even diced up on top of your dog’s existing dinner.
For a birthday treat, a reward for good behaviour or to help your dog gain a touch of weight if he or she has been unwell and shed some pounds – these are the best ways to feed hot dogs to your dog.
Dogs gain weight far easier than human beings do, and their digestive systems have far more sensitivity to additives and other things we put into what experts call ‘people food’ – hot dogs are no exception to that.
As with any new addition to your dog’s diet, experiment with a few pieces of hot dog and raise and lower the portion size to best suit your dog.
What to do if your dog eats hot dogs
Dogs are talented at eating what they shouldn’t, and you might find your dog has eaten raw hot dogs, or cooked hot dogs covered in onions or garlic.
In these cases, you’re advised to be on the lookout for severe tummy upsets in your pet, and certainly inform your vet for advice if you’re especially worried.
If your dog has instead eaten lots of plain cooked hot dogs, perhaps by knocking them off a plate on the kitchen side counter, there’s little to worry about.
Overdoing it might well give your dog a tummy ache, but unless he or she is engaging in this sort of thing every day, there shouldn’t be any risks to your pet’s long term health and weight.
Certainly, let them know that sneaking food is wrong though – what your dog tries to eat next time might be a bit more dangerous, after all.
Hot dogs are delicious to dogs of all breeds and ages, and you’ll have no problem whatsoever convincing a dog to eat one.
However, make sure you don’t give your pet any hot dogs with onions or garlic either on them or featured in their ingredients in any way – this is very toxic stuff for dogs.
Try to avoid sauces wherever possible too, which have nothing nutritional to offer your pet, and similarly consider hot dogs as a rare but delicious treat for your dog rather than a dietary staple.