Is pepperoni bad for dogs?

There’s no doubt about it – dogs are naturally greedy and most love to eat everything and anything, but can dogs eat pepperoni? No, dogs should not eat pepperoni. It’s definitely a good choice on pizza but not the best for dogs to eat.

Let’s explore why eating pepperoni may not be an ideal snack for your furry friend.

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What are the ingredients? 🍕

It is important to examine the ingredients, where possible, that are contained in pepperoni. Pepperoni is an American type of salami and is usually made from pork and beef. This is then typically mixed with paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and/or fennel seeds.

That is quite a selection of spices and is not likely to mix well with your dog’s digestive system, they could cause a gastrointestinal upset.

Garlic and onion can also be present in pepperoni, either as a powdered flavoring, or added as a fresh element. Garlic and onion can be toxic to dogs, especially if ingested in large quantities.

The size of your dog can also have an effect on how much garlic and onion can be ingested. For example, if a Chihuahua ingests traces of garlic or onion, it may have a different reaction to that of a Great Dane due to the difference in body size and their ability to process it.

Always contact your veterinary surgeon if you’re concerned about your dog after they have ingested potentially toxic ingredients.

Suggested reading: How many treats can my dog have a day?

Pepperoni has a high-fat content

The majority of pepperoni has a high-fat content, so continued ingestion could cause long-term health problems.

Certain fats do not mix well with a dog’s digestive system, especially in excessive amounts. Small-scale ingestion may not cause a huge problem, however, if a dog continues to ingest pepperoni in large amounts, then it could be a cause for concern.

Contact your veterinary surgeon if your dog has eaten a large amount of pepperoni.

Symptoms that may occur post pepperoni ingestion

Due to the ingredients in pepperoni, ingestion may cause an array of different clinical signs that you should look out for. If any of these symptoms arise, contact your veterinary practice immediately for help and advice. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:


Diarrhea may be triggered by the spices found in pepperoni. Spices such as cayenne pepper and chili powder may upset your dog’s digestive system. Diarrhea may present as liquid feces or watery mucus.


Your dog may experience vomiting due to gastrointestinal upset. This may start as digested food and then lead to a watery consistency, followed by yellow bile.

Excessive drinking

Due to the high-salt content of pepperoni, your dog may drink large amounts of water to counteract the effects on the body.


Dehydration may be a secondary symptom of vomiting and diarrhea because the body will lose valuable water and electrolytes.

Signs of dehydration include lethargy, sunken eyes, and a delayed skin tent. A skin tent can be performed by pulling a dog’s skin, usually the scruff, upwards. The scruff should then be released. In a hydrated dog, this should return instantly to its normal appearance. If the skin returns to its normal position but takes longer than 1-2 seconds, this may indicate dehydration.


Due to the high-fat content of pepperoni, ingestion may cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and is often triggered by the ingestion of fatty foods. Signs of pancreatitis include the above symptoms, along with abdominal pain and depression.

Excessive urination

Increased urination may occur for a number of reasons. Your dog may be urinating more due to the fact that they are drinking more, as their bodies are trying to dilute the amount of salt and fats that are now within the body due to pepperoni ingestion.

Your dog may also be urinating more in an attempt for the body to excrete as much salt and fats as it can.


Due to the spices found in pepperoni, ingestion may cause bloating. This could be a collection of gas in your dog’s digestive tract. One important sign of bloat is obvious abdominal swelling. In large breed dogs, this should always be treated as an emergency, and veterinary attention should be sought immediately.

Can dogs eat pepperoni? No,think of the calories!

Pepperoni contains a significant amount of calories – calories that a healthy dog just does not need in their diet!

One-off ingestion of pepperoni should not make a substantial difference to a dog’s waistline, but repeat offenders could see an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and early-onset arthritis.

If you regularly give your dog ‘human foods’, then be sure to leave pepperoni off that list!

What should you do if your dog has eaten pepperoni?

Every situation is different and if you are worried that your dog has eaten pepperoni, then it is always best to contact your veterinary surgeon for advice.

If a small amount of pepperoni has been ingested, then it is unlikely to cause any health concerns. A mild gastrointestinal upset may be present with diarrhea and/or vomiting.

If this occurs, then a bland diet of plain chicken and rice can be offered in small amounts, little and often throughout the day.

If your dog has eaten a large amount of pepperoni, then emesis (vomiting) may be induced through the use of an emetic drug. This allows the contents of the stomach to be expelled before causing problems during digestion.

Your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise you on the best course of action following a consultation.

Doggy alternatives to pepperoni

In conclusion, dogs should not be fed pepperoni. There are plenty of other meats that can be offered to your canine companion that will not cause any health concerns when given in moderation. Meats such as chicken, turkey, duck, and pork are all great treats to give to your dog.

These should be fully cooked, fresh, and offered without any form of seasonings or spices. Plus your dog will probably prefer to eat these over a slice of pepperoni anyway! 

If you want to change things up for your dog and offer pepperoni alternatives that are not meat-based, then dog-safe foods include beets, plantains, olives, basil, papaya, okra, and carrots.

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