Can Dogs Eat Luncheon Meat? Here’s How to Safely Feed It to Your Dog

It’s 5 pm, and I was starving.

The first thing my hand was able to reach from the cupboard was a can of luncheon meat. This is something I would never eat daily, but my dog seems to love it just as well. I opened the can, cut into a small pieces, pan-fried the chunks a bit, and fed some to my dog.

Can dogs eat luncheon meat?

While that seemed straight forward, there are certain things that we should be aware of before feeding our dogs some luncheon meat. I knew I did my homework that day!

Luncheon meat is usually a mixture of deli meats such as beef, turkey, ham and chicken. There are many reasons why it’s not a good idea to let your four-legged friend chow down on the same cold cuts as you do.

Let’s find out together why.

What is Luncheon Meat?

Luncheon meat is a type of processed meat that is usually served cold. It is usually made from pork, beef, or turkey. Luncheon meat can be sold under several different brand names, such as ham and turkey breast.

It is often used as an ingredient in other foods like salads, casseroles, and sandwiches. It can also be eaten on its own if you prefer to eat luncheon meat without any other ingredients mixed into it.

This meat should not be confused with cured meats like salami or prosciutto because they are made from different cuts of beef than luncheon meat is made from.

Possible Health Hazard of Luncheon Meat for Dogs

Can dogs eat ham luncheon meat? Yes, they can. But it’s best to be aware of the possible risks before giving your pup a piece to chew on. I am listing down some of them below:

luncheon meat on a sandwich with eggs


Luncheon meat is a high-calorie food that’s made from cooked and ground pork, beef, or chicken.

The calorie content can cause obesity in dogs if they consume too much luncheon meat. If your dog already has health problems like heart disease or diabetes, it’s best to avoid giving him luncheon meat as a treat.


Another risk when you feed your dogs luncheon meat is having high intake of fat. Dogs that are fed with luncheon meats often develop pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas.

In dogs, this can be fatal if left untreated. Pancreatitis is caused by digestive enzymes that are unable to digest the high fat content in luncheon meats.

Salt and Nitrates

Luncheon meat contains various salts, preservatives, and nitrates. While these ingredients aren’t necessarily harmful to humans or other animals, they can be dangerous to dogs because of the way they affect their body chemistry.

Nitrates are used to preserve meat—they help prevent it from spoiling by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. But when consumed by dogs, nitrates can cause gastric upset and even death in some cases.

Dogs who consume too much salt can also experience vomiting or diarrhea, so it’s important to make sure that luncheon meat doesn’t contain too much salt before feeding it to your dog.

Spices & Flavorings

In addition to the fact that most luncheon meats are high in sodium and fat, there are other reasons why you should be cautious about feeding them to your dog, two of which are the spices and flavorings that could have been added to the meat.

These types of additives can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, or vomiting—all of which are not pleasant for your dog or for you!

How Can Your Dog Eat Luncheon Meat Safely?

Is lunch meat bad for dogs? Not really, but only if you give them the right amount to munch on. The good news is that luncheon meat is typically pretty safe for dogs to eat. The bad news is that there are some safety considerations when it comes to feeding it to them.  

hungry labrador puppy sticking his tongue out

How can we make sure that we feed our dogs some luncheon meat the right way?

Here are some tips that you could use:

Try To Find Unprocessed Meats

Processed meats have been cooked and preserved in some way that could be harmful for dogs. Unprocessed meats will not have any preservatives or other additives added to them before being sold at the grocery store—which means they’re less likely to cause any problems for your pup.

Get Low-sodium Alternatives

Luncheon meat can contain a lot of sodium, which means it’s not the best choice for dogs who have high blood pressure or other heart problems. Dogs with kidney disease should also avoid luncheon meat, as it may cause the kidneys to be less efficient at filtering and removing waste from the body. 

Choose low-sodium alternatives so that you can also keep up on their hydration level, and protect them from getting dehydrated from consuming too much salt.

Thinking of other meat alternatives? Here are posts that I wrote on can dogs have turkey burgers and can dogs have kangaroo meat.

Check Out Nitrate-free Products

When shopping for luncheon meat, make sure that it has no added nitrates or nitrites—they can cause cancer in dogs!

If you aren’t sure about what ingredients are included in the product being sold at your local grocery store, check out the label for information about sodium content as well as whether or not there is any added colorings, usually found near the top of ingredient lists.

If both of these components are low or absent from this product then it should be safe for consumption by our pups.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Ate a Cold Cut?

If you notice that your dog has eaten luncheon meat, especially if it’s just a small amount, give him some water and monitor him for a few hours. If there are any signs of distress, such as vomiting or diarrhea or lethargy, call your vet immediately.

deli sandwich

If your dog ate luncheon meat without incident, he should be okay for the most part—you just have to make sure he doesn’t have any more of it. As with any food that isn’t meant for dogs, it’s best not to let them have too much of it at once and make sure they’re getting plenty of other foods as well.

Meaty Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Lunch Meat Can Dogs Eat?

If you want to feed your dog luncheon meat, make sure that you buy it from a trusted source because it can contain unhealthy ingredients such as MSG.

Also, read the labels carefully before buying any type of luncheon meat because some brands may have added sugars or preservatives that are not safe for dogs.

If you want to give your dog luncheon meat occasionally as treats or rewards, choose one with low sodium content so it won’t cause dehydration in your pet.

You should never give your dog luncheon meat regularly because it contains high levels of sodium which can be harmful if eaten in large amounts over time.

Can Dogs Eat Spam Meat?

Yes. Spam is one of the most popular brands of luncheon meat, and I’ve heard some of my friends tell me that they feed it to their dogs.

I would recommend checking with your vet before giving your dog any kind of food they aren’t used to eating though, because some foods might upset their stomachs or cause other problems.

Can Lunch Meat Give Dogs Diarrhea?

Yes, one reason is if you feed them raw luncheon meat. I would recommend to feed your dog luncheon meat if it is cooked. Raw meat poses a risk of bacterial infection and other problems that can be potentially harmful to your dog.

round meat with salt and pepper

Secondly, you should never give your dog any kind of luncheon meat that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours because it could easily get contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli or Listeria.

If you think about it, these are the same kinds of bacteria that are found in other types of foods that people love to eat raw (like sushi). So if you’re going to serve your dog luncheon meat, make sure to keep it refrigerated until just before meal prep time.


As we’ve shown, while luncheon meat isn’t the most ideal dog food source, it can be given to our pups in moderation without worry. The key is to make sure your dog doesn’t eat too much of it at once, and that you watch him to make sure he’s not having any negative reactions.

Of course, it’s always best to stick with dog-friendly, healthy food sources like our homemade dog food recipes instead of store-bought luncheon meat products. But if you’re in a pinch and you want the convenience of packaged foods, luncheon meat is one of the options available.

For more articles like this including the best meat for dogs, please keep visiting ECC! I am more than excited to hear from you, please go ahead and send me your messages or your questions. Ciao!

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Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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