A dog with a wary expression looking at deli meat, showing they are harmful to dogs.

Can Dogs Eat Deli Meat?

No, dogs should not eat deli meat. Deli meats are often loaded with sodium, preservatives, and additives that can be harmful to dogs. While it might be tempting to share your sandwich with your furry friend, it's best to stick to foods specifically formulated for dogs.

A photo of Stefan Stumpfl, the co-author of this article.

By Stefan Stumpfl, in collaboration with Dr. Ali Raza.

Updated on Jun 21, 2024

Did You Know?

Deli meats are often high in sodium and can contribute to sodium ion poisoning in dogs.

Deli Meat



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Feeding Frequency


Allergic Risk


Why is Deli Meat Bad for Dogs?

Deli meats contain high levels of sodium and nitrates, which can lead to serious health issues like kidney damage, heart disease, and obesity in dogs. Furthermore, the spices and additives commonly found in these meats can upset a dog's stomach, leading to diarrhea and vomiting.

How Much Deli Meat Can Dogs Eat?

Even though deli meat is not recommended, the occasional small piece might not do significant harm. However, it should be treated as a rare exception, not a regular treat. A small piece, about the size of a sugar cube, once in a blue moon, is the absolute maximum.

Common Misconceptions

Some people believe that giving dogs deli meat as a treat is okay because "meat is meat." However, the processing and added ingredients make deli meat vastly different from plain, cooked meats. It's essential to differentiate between what's healthy for humans and what's safe for dogs.

Similar Harmful Products

Several products fall into the same category of caution as deli meat. Be wary of offering your dog the following:

  • Sausages: These are often high in fat and sodium.
  • Bacon: Extremely high in fat and salt, not to mention nitrates.
  • Cold Cuts: These can contain harmful preservatives and additives.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats Deli Meat?

If your dog has indulged in deli meat, monitor them closely for signs of distress like vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive thirst. If any of these symptoms occur, contact your vet immediately. Avoid inducing vomiting unless instructed by a professional.

Long-term consumption of harmful foods can lead to severe health issues, including organ damage. Treatment costs for these conditions can be high, making pet insurance a valuable investment for dog owners. It can be a lifeline when unexpected medical expenses arise.

What are Healthy Alternatives?

Instead of deli meat, consider these healthier options for your dog's treats:

  • Boiled Chicken: Low in fat and free of harmful additives.
  • Carrot Sticks: Crunchy, low-calorie snacks that many dogs love.
  • Apple Slices: Just be sure to remove the seeds and core.


Deli meat is not a good choice for dogs due to its high sodium, fat, and additive content. For the health and safety of your furry friend, stick to vet-approved treats and consult with your vet if you're unsure about any foods. Your dog's long-term health is worth more than a momentary snack.