It’s natural to feel guilty as you look at your dog’s bowl of dry food while they watch you make a Sunday morning breakfast complete with bacon and eggs. Plus, it can feel like a shame to waste the bacon grease, and it’s no secret that pouring it down the drain can wreak havoc on your pipes.
So, it’s likely got you wondering—is bacon grease good for dogs?
The short answer is no. Bacon grease isn’t good for dogs, although it won’t kill them to have a little once in a while. On the contrary, small amounts of bacon grease for healthy adult dogs may have a few benefits.
I’ll help you understand the ins and outs of what classifies bacon grease as a treat that you should only feed your dog occasionally.
Understanding What Bacon Grease Contains
Bacon grease only has one ingredient—bacon grease—right? And since it comes from a pig, a food that dogs would eat in the wild, it seems that bacon grease should be harmless.
Most manufacturers process bacon using sodium nitrate, which is a preservative. Furthermore, bacon and its grease often contain the following ingredients:
- Sodium phosphates
- Sodium ascorbate
If you didn’t keep track, that’s four out of five of bacon’s ingredients containing salt. So, it’s no surprise that a high salt concentration is one of the biggest dangers to dogs that eat too much bacon grease.
Furthermore, as you likely already guessed, bacon grease contains a lot of fat. So, if Fido is already struggling with an expanding stomach, bacon grease won’t help his cause.
The Dangers of Too Much Salt and Fat in a Dog’s Diet
Salt and fat are essential nutrients in a dog’s diet, as long as they consume them in moderation.
High-quality dog food always includes some sodium levels, as it helps dogs balance their fluids, blood pressure, and muscle function. On the other hand, fat cushions your dog’s internal organs and offers insulation and energy.
However, if you give your dog bacon grease often or too much at a time, they could go into sodium overdrive. Symptoms of too much salt intake include:
If your dog consumes too much fat, it’ll experience a different set of issues, including:
That said, without enough fat, your dog’s coat will become dull and itchy. Bacon grease has a high concentration of monounsaturated fat, making it a relatively safer fat than products containing trans fat, and it can also contribute to a shiny coat.
How Much Salt and Fat Do Dogs Need?
If you feed your dog a diet of high-quality bagged or canned dog food, you can pretty much bet that they’re getting the proper salt and fat ratios. They are as follows:
- Salt: 0.25 – 1.5 grams for every 100 grams of food
- Fat: 5.5% of their total calories
So, how do you determine how many calories your dog should consume? You can use this calculator to find out. Calorie intake depends largely on the weight of your dog.
However, if you have an overweight pet, it’s best to speak with a veterinarian. They’ll likely give you a modified amount of calories your pet should be consuming compared to what this calculator and your bag of dog food say.
In terms of percentages for the salt content, you should look for a minimum of 0.3% salt on the nutritional label of your dog food bag. For both salt and fat, giving your dog a little more of each above their standard meal amounts in the form of dog treats is safe.
The Downsides of Dogs Eating Bacon Grease
As if the health issues described here aren’t enough of a problem for your dog, they can also suffer from several other issues if they consume too much bacon grease.
Issues With Digestion
Indigestion is a common problem for dogs that eat too much fat of any kind, including bacon grease. Gastroenteritis is one of the most common culprits, which is the result of an inflamed stomach and intestines.
Signs that your dog is suffering from gastroenteritis include:
- Blood in their stool
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from this condition, it’s crucial to take it to the vet. Your vet will likely perform a series of x-rays and blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Loss of Appetite
Bacon grease for dogs is like candy for kids. And as you probably know from when you were a child, if you overeat something that’s not good for you, you likely won’t feel like eating your next meal.
So, pouring too much bacon grease on your dog’s food, especially if you accompany it with pieces of bacon, might cause them to lick around their nutrient-packed kibbles and eat only the grease.
While occasionally skipping such a meal won’t harm your dog, repeating this process every time you make bacon for, let’s say, your keto diet, can harm your dog because it won’t be getting the essential nutrients it needs to thrive.
Damage to Your Dog’s Mouth
Humans love their bacon piping hot, but we blow on our pieces of meat before eating them. Dogs don’t have this luxury, and they eat raw meat in the wild anyway.
So, it’s all-too-common for well-meaning dog owners to accidentally give their dogs bacon grease that’s too hot. The result can be devastating for your pet, causing them to spit out the food and yelp. It can also make it challenging for them to eat in the coming days (damage to the gums).
An overweight dog is one of the most common and logical side effects of feeding your pet too much bacon grease. You might think your pup looks cute with some extra rolls, but I assure you you’re not doing it any favors.
As with humans, obesity can cause a range of problems. Some of the most common include:
- Heart disease
- Bladder stones
So, the next time your puppy looks at you with longing eyes as you shovel bacon into your mouth, consider taking them for a walk instead. For that matter, your body might thank you for going for a walk after a big breakfast as well.
A Note on Puppies
You should avoid giving young puppies bacon grease at all costs. That’s because puppies have extra sensitive stomachs, given that they don’t have a strong enough system to digest large amounts of fat properly.
So, giving your puppy even a tiny amount of bacon grease could end up causing them to have a stomach ache, leading to a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
Therefore, if you have an adult dog that you’ll be giving bacon grease to, make sure their bowl is out of your puppy’s reach.
How Much Bacon Grease Is Safe For Dogs?
Since you came here with the question, “Is bacon grease good for dogs?” you now know it’s okay to feed it to your adult pooch in moderation. So, let’s explore how much is safe to offer to your pet.
It’s safe to give your dog about one teaspoon of bacon grease per 20 pounds of body fat. So, if you have a 10-pound dog, you should give it a ½ teaspoon. In contrast, an 80-pound dog can comfortably eat four teaspoons.
Of course, it’s not just the amount of bacon grease you give your dog that matters but the frequency you offer it to the pet.
Generally speaking, it’s okay to give your dog bacon grease twice per month, ensuring there’s a full two weeks between each treat. That said, dogs who participate in agility courses or other high-energy activities can get away with consuming bacon grease a little more frequently.
Healthier Grease Choices for Dogs
As much as your dog doesn’t need bacon grease, you might be surprised to learn that it comes with some benefits. For example, it helps makes a dog’s coat shiner and can add some pounds if your pet struggles to keep on weight.
Furthermore, bacon grease softens food for dogs with trouble chewing, and it can give a boost of energy to pregnant and nursing dogs.
Nevertheless, you can use several healthier alternatives for these situations than bacon grease. Examples include:
- Chicken stock
- Olive oil
- Fish oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Coconut oil
If you choose to use homemade chicken stock, ensure there aren’t any bones in the broth before giving it to your dog. You can also use bone broth of any kind, for that matter, also ensuring that you remove the bones before giving them to your pet.
So, is bacon grease good for dogs?
Although bacon grease offers some benefits for dogs, such as giving energy to active dogs and helping them maintain a shiny coat, overall, it’s not the best choice.
Feeding your dog lots of bacon grease can lead to diabetes, pancreatitis, vomiting, and seizures. So, it’s best to give them a small amount once every two weeks at most.