Can dogs eat spam? In short, no, dogs should not eat spam.
Whilst spam is not toxic to dogs, it does contain a high concentration of additives which can affect a dog’s overall health and contribute towards health problems and diseases.
Due to its popularity, there are now several flavors of spam available that may cause more harm than the original version. So, let’s lift the lid on this canned meat and explore why it may not be the best snack for our canine friends.
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What is spam?
Spam is a canned meat that appeared in grocery stores around 1937. It was originally manufactured in Austin, Minnesota where there is even a spam museum to visit, if you are a self-confessed Spam super fan!
Spam helped to fill the hunger gap during the great depression, offering the public a cheap and convenient meat. Spam was originally used as a sandwich filler, but can now be seen in dishes such as sushi, rice, and even tacos!
Is spam good for dogs?
No, spam is not an ideal food choice for dogs to consume. However, the ingredients are not toxic to dogs, and if a small amount is ingested, it certainly won’t cause a dog any harm.
In fact, there aren’t that many ingredients in spam at all. Spam consists of pork, salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate.
Suggested reading: How many treats can my dog have a day?
So, what is the issue with dogs eating spam?
High levels of fat
Spam contains high levels of fat. In a two ounce serving, there are around 15 grams of fat which is a considerable amount for our dogs to be eating.
If a dog was to consume a whole tin of spam, that’s a whopping 96 grams of fat resulting in around 900 calories – eek!
Whilst small amounts of fat are required in a dog’s diet, it should not be consumed in excess.
Too much fat in a dog’s diet can cause health problems such as pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas which causes abdominal pain), weight gain, diabetes, arthritis, and joint problems.
High levels of sodium
Due to the requirement of Spam to be manufactured as a long-life product, a high level of sodium is added in order to preserve the meat.
In fact, Spam is so well preserved with sodium, it can last between 2 – 5 years in the can without being opened. One can of Spam contains an eye-watering 4,746mg of sodium.
Sodium is an essential part of a dog’s diet, and their regular dog food should give them the correct amount of sodium required.
However, excessive amounts of sodium can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, muscle tremors, and seizures.
Preservatives and nitrates
We know that spam contains high levels of salt and sodium nitrate and these act as the meat’s preservative. Nitrates have been shown to cause a higher risk of diabetes and certain types of cancers.
Symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and immune-compromisation can occur if preservatives and nitrates are consumed in high quantities.
Spam is sold across the world and can be seen in different cuisines, popular in countries such as Japan, Korea, and The Phillipines. As a result of this, there are a variety of different flavors of spam now available including, hot and spicy, jalapeno, garlic, and hickory smoke.
These different flavors may cause severe gastrointestinal upset, with dogs showing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy and hemorrhagic diarrhea.
Spam flavors such as garlic and hot and spicy may contain toxic ingredients. Foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, and chili can be toxic to dogs and veterinary help should be sought as soon as possible post-ingestion.
What to do if your dog eats spam
If your dog eats spam, do not panic. A small amount of spam is unlikely to cause any harm to your pooch. In fact, I would imagine that they will rather enjoy a sneaky snack of spam.
However, do not be tempted to offer it to your dog. If a small amount has been ingested, it is unlikely to show any clinical signs. In some cases, mild symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea may occur.
If your dog has eaten a large portion of spam then contact your veterinary surgeon to see what they advise. It is likely that vomiting (emesis) will be induced, which will empty your dog’s stomach of its contents. Vomiting is induced through an injected medication.
If your dog has eaten spam and it is too late to induce vomiting, then your dog may have to stay at the veterinary practice and receive intravenous fluid therapy (IVFT).
IVFT is essentially a drip that helps to dilute harmful substances in your dog’s bloodstream as well as keep them hydrated. Supportive medication to help a dog’s gastrointestinal system may also be offered to help them recover quicker and have less severe symptoms.
Alternatives to spam
There are a variety of alternatives to spam that can be offered to your dog. If your dog enjoys eating meat, then the most obvious choice would be to feed them fresh meat, as opposed to preserved spam.
Meats such as chicken, turkey, pork, and fish are all great alternatives and are packed full of vitamins and minerals.
Dried fish skins also make a great addition to your dog’s diet. Not only are they packed full of goodness, but they also aid in cleaning your dog’s teeth! Their crunchy exterior helps with the removal of plaque and tartar build-up.
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Can dogs eat spam? Final thoughts
Whilst us humans may enjoy the odd bit of spam, it’s safe to say that offering this retro food to your dog should be avoided.
High levels of sodium, fat, and preservatives can cause severe health problems and can significantly shorten a dog’s life span.
Be extra cautious with flavored Spam, as some flavors can contain toxic ingredients. There are plenty of healthy alternatives to spam, so be sure to leave it off your dog’s snack list.