Can dogs or cats eat ham?

May 1, 2023
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.

Can dogs eat ham?

Though dogs may enjoy ham, it's not safe for them to eat. Ham is high in sodium and fat content, which can cause health problems like obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure in dogs. Consuming too much salt can also lead to dehydration and kidney problems.

Ham also contains nitrites, which are used as preservatives. These chemicals have been linked with cancer development in humans and animals alike. While the amount of nitrite present in ham may not be enough to immediately harm your pet, consuming it regularly over time could pose long-term risks.

Moreover, some hams contain bones. These pose a choking hazard for dogs; they also might swallow small pieces of bone, causing digestive issues, constipation or blockages.

The bottom line: You should avoid feeding your dog ham, even as an occasional treat, because the negative health effects outweigh any nutritional benefits. There are plenty of healthier options available, including lean meats like chicken breast or vegetables like carrots.

Can cats eat ham?

Ham is a popular meaty treat for people, but it's definitely not safe for cats to eat, for several reasons. First of all, ham contains high levels of salt, which can cause dehydration and lead to serious health problems in cats. The excessive sodium content can also increase their risk of developing heart disease or high blood pressure.

Another reason is that ham often contains preservatives and additives such as nitrates and nitrites. These chemicals have been linked to cancer in both animals and humans, so it's best to avoid them altogether.

Additionally, ham's tough texture and high fat content can make it difficult for cats to digest. This can result in stomach upset, diarrhea or vomiting — all unpleasant experiences for both you and your cat.

The bottom line: While it may seem tempting to share your delicious slice of ham with your furry companion, please resist the urge! Instead, stick with commercially available cat food designed specifically for their needs — after all, they deserve only the best!

Information Purposes Only

The suggestions offered here are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for pet-specific advice from your veterinarian. Never disregard your vet’s recommendations, or delay in acting on them, based on something you have read on this site. Regardless of how a food is rated here, any food that you give your pet can pose potential health risks, including allergic reactions, choking, or other health conditions such as bloat. Always monitor your pet while they’re eating, and never introduce a new food into your pet’s diet without first consulting your veterinarian. 

Pet Poison Emergency Protocol

If your pet is acting sick, call your regular veterinarian immediately. If your regular veterinarian is closed, call a nearby on-call veterinarian, animal urgent care, or veterinary emergency hospital. If your pet is not acting sick but you think they may have been exposed to a poison, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).

Food Safety Statuses


Could be given almost daily without harm

Safe in moderation

Not toxic, but should not be given regularly


Toxic or simply too risky to give to your pet