Can Dogs Have Ham Bones? Risks Of Giving Ham To Your Dog

Can dogs eat ham bones?

This is a question that many dog owners have asked themselves at some point. 

Ham bones or ham hocks can be a good source of protein for your pup. However, there are many risks associated with these bones that might outweigh the benefits.

In this blog post, we will discuss the risks and symptoms of ham bone ingestion in dogs so you can make informed decisions about feeding ham to your canine companion!

Can Dogs Eat Ham Bones Safely?

Technically, ham bones can be a nutritious addition to your dog’s diet. However, giving them to your dog can be risky, and we recommend staying away from it! Here’s why…

While ham bones might provide some nutritional benefits, they definitely come with an equal set of risks that make feeding things like ham hocks dangerous for your pup.

The number one risk ham bones pose for dogs is splintering. Ham bones are notoriously brittle and can splinter more easily while your dog is chewing them, causing injury to his mouth or esophagus. Splinters from ham bones also pose a risk of intestinal perforations that can be extremely painful to your dog.

Cooked ham bones pose an even greater risk of splintering as ham bones tend to become more dangerous when cooked because the bone marrow becomes much more fragile in a heated state.

However, if you still decide to make ham products as part of your dog’s diet, first, you need to make sure that you’ve purchased high-quality ham products from trusted brands that have been processed in the safest possible way. Otherwise, if ham bones have been processed incorrectly or not stored properly, they can become contaminated with bacteria that could be a significant health risk to your pup. 

In addition, you can allow your dog to chew on ham bones ONLY if you are there for constant supervision. You need to make sure that they don’t swallow a small piece of the bone (or even the whole bone) that can cause serious damage inside.

So the safest way for your dog to have ham bones is by your constant supervision and giving them after a meal as a treat.

Related Article: Best Separation Anxiety Chews for Dogs. Read on as we share how calming treats play a huge role in treating anxiety.

What Happens If Your Dog Eat Ham Bones?

brown and white dog chewing on a bone

Chewing a ham bone under your supervision can be good for your puppy’s dental health and digestion. However, if not being careful, ham bone ingestion can cause some health issues, including:

  • Intestinal blockage – Splintering of ham bones causes injury to the pet’s mouth, esophagus, or stomach. If your dog ingests a big chunk of ham bones, it can lead to intestinal obstruction or blood flow impairment. This is a life-threatening situation, and your dog will need immediate surgery.
  • Perforation of internal organs – If your dog breaks the ham bone with its teeth, it can shatter into hundreds of razor-sharp parts like glass. These sharp fragments can cause perforation in the gastrointestinal tract or other internal organs, which can lead to internal bleeding or suffocation.
  • Peritonitis – Ham poisoning is also connected with ham peritonitis, which is an inflammation in the abdomen area that happens if an abdominal organ is punctured. In this case, the dog needs immediate surgery.

If your dog has ingested ham bones and is experiencing any of the following signs, you should immediately take them in to see a veterinarian: vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy/lack of energy for more than 12 hours after ingestion. 

These are all signs that ham bone toxicity and internal damage could be present in your dog, and immediate medical attention can save your pup’s life!

However, if your dog consumed ham bones but there are no signs of toxicity or illness, then do not stress! You can feed them small meals throughout the day (in accordance with vet’s instructions) until they feel better. Also, make sure there is always fresh water available for them to drink.

If it has been more than 24 hours since ham was ingested, offer some food that will help firm up stools like boiled chicken breast mixed into rice or grass-fed beef if diarrhea is present. 

Also, feeding your dog bread and pumpkin can help coat the ham bone fragments and prevent further internal damage.

Lastly, remember, if symptoms have worsened at all or are still apparent after 48 hours, seek veterinary care immediately as this could potentially indicate pancreatitis, which can quickly become life-threatening without treatment. 

Symptoms To Look For: When To Worry

There are a few symptoms you can look for when ham bones cause danger in dogs. These include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea – Vomiting, diarrhea, or inability to keep food down after eating ham bones (for more than 12 hours) can be signs that ham bone damage is done. If the sharp bone fragments aren’t expelled with the regular vomiting, you should seek out immediate veterinary care.
  • Lack of appetite – If a piece of bone is lodged in your pet’s stomach, it may take away your dog’s appetite. If this is the case and they don’t eat for more than 12 hours it may be a good idea to make them a small meal that will help firm up their stool. 
  • Lethargy/lack of energy – Dogs can lose their energy as a result of bacterial infection that makes them very sick. The infection can occur when some internal organ is punctured with a ham bone which will lead to lethargic behavior along with a lack of motivation. So you should watch your dog closely for any changes in energy levels.
  • Dark stools – If you notice dark stools from your dog, it can be due to intestinal perforation where internal bleeding is present. So the blood can be mixed with the stool, hence the dark color, and if you notice this, rush your dog to your local vet clinic.

Tips To Help Your Dog Survive Eating A Ham Bone

If ham bones cause damage and your dog has consumed them by accident, you can do a few things to help them survive.

  • You should seek veterinary care – Ham bone ingestion it’s not only extremely dangerous if left untreated, but also incredibly deadly. So always consult your vet first.
  • Give them bread to firm up their stool – Feeding bread to a dog can be beneficial, especially after ingesting ham bone because it can coat the bone fragments.
  • Give them pumpkin to soothe their stomach – Feeding pumpkin to your dog can be also beneficial because it relieves diarrhea.

Read More: Best Dog Food for Bad Teeth. Feeding a dog with small or fewer teeth is very challenging. Here, we list down the right dog food to help you.

Can Dogs Eat Ham?

If you were wondering whether ham is safe for dogs to eat, the answer might be a bit more complicated than you were expecting.

Ham itself isn’t necessarily bad for your dog, because it’s a great source of protein. You can feed your dog a little ham, but only if it’s properly cooked (to avoid bacteria) and it’s without seasoning (since it can upset the dog’s stomach).

However, like many types of human foods (e.g. portions of bacon) and snacks, ham contains some ingredients that can cause problems if your dog ingests them in large quantities or over time. Ham comes with an excess amount of calories, salt, and fat which can cause ham poisoning and pancreatitis in your dog.

Ham can be also bad for older dogs with chronic illnesses and dogs on a diet. So we recommend to avoid frequently feeding ham to your dog.

How Much Ham Is Too Much For A Dog?

Ham can be a tasty treat for dogs, but it’s essential to know how much ham is too much before giving this snack.

It is important to know how much ham is too much ham for a dog which mostly depends on the size of the dog and its health status. 

Ham can be bad for dogs if they eat an excessive amount of ham in one sitting, causing them indigestion or even pancreatitis. If your dog overeats ham, then it may vomit or have diarrhea the next day. 

So if you decide to give ham to your dog, to be on the safe side, we recommend giving only cooked ham to your dog occasionally, maybe once or twice a month in small amounts.

Eating more than this can make their stomach upset and can cause serious side effects, including vomiting blood, seizures, lethargy, not eating food at all, abnormal heart rhythm, and more similar symptoms. 

Some symptoms include constipation/diarrhea, but every symptom varies from individual pet to individual pet. So we recommend watching out for any changes in behavior after feeding your dog ham bones.

As you can see, the risks outweigh the benefits here, so it’s safe to say that it’s best to avoid giving this treat to your dog.

How Do I Cook A Ham Bone For My Dog?

For ham bones to be safe for your dog, it’s best not to be cooked, but given raw. This is because the cooked ham bones can easily sprinter in the dog’s mouth and cause a lot of damage.

So you can give raw ham bones to your dog for chewing, but only under constant supervision from your side.

Can My Dog Have A Piece Of Ham?

Technically it can, since the ham can be a source of protein. However, it’s highly risky to give ham to your dog because there are a lot of side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, etc.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Ham?

Dogs can get sick from ham if they eat too much ham, which can cause a stomach upset or even pancreatitis. 

Can Ham Bones Give Dogs Diarrhea?

Yes, ham bones can give your dog diarrhea, so you must watch out for any changes in behavior- eating less food than usual, drinking more water than normal (dehydration), etc.

Read More: Dog Food That Makes Dogs Poop Less. Here are our dog food recommendations fo less dog pooping.

Final Thoughts

We hope this blog post has helped you make an informed decision about whether or not to feed your dog ham and ham bones.

Ham bones can be a good option for dogs who need to chew on something, but they can be risky if not given with caution. However, the risk increases when you give too many raw pieces at once because these can splinter and cause a lot of damage internally.

If you’re still feeling unsure, we encourage you to contact a veterinarian for more information on the risks and symptoms of ham bone ingestion in dogs! Or even better, for a piece of mind, avoid feeding ham to your dog.

What kind of bones are you feeding your dog? Tell us in the comments below.

If you are interested in articles about food like this one, kindly check our article about Can Dogs Eat Egg Shells.

Photo of author

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!)

Leave a Comment