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Can Dogs Eat Bologna?

Did you grow up on bologna sandwiches as a kid? While it’s a staple deli meat for many, the question of whether dogs can eat bologna is a good one to ask considering it’s status as a processed food.

We’ll dive into all the details on whether this common treat is really good for your dog or doing more harm than you may realize.

Dog licking lips on white background.
Photo credit: YayImages.

What is bologna?

Before answering “can dogs eat bologna?” — it’s important to understand what bologna is. Since it’s found behind the deli counter here in the US, many people think of bologna as a meat.

That’s only partially true.

Bologna originated in Italy (from its namesake city of Bologna, Italy). In Italy, bologna is a sausage called mortadella comprised of pork, cured pork fat cubes, pistachios and black pepper flakes.

In the United States, however, we’ve turned it into a more processed version of its former self making it a lunch meat more similar to hot dogs than anything else.

According to US Wellness Meats, lower-cost bologna typically consists of miscellaneous meat trimmings and byproducts from beef, pork, chicken or turkey. Organ meats are also prevalent in cheaper brands and additives like salt, fat, water and stock are often used for flavor and moisture preservation.

Bologna “recipes” can vary significantly from brand to brand and it’s hard to know exactly what you’re eating each time.

Slice of ham or Paris sausage on a white background with half a tomato and a salad leaf.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Should dogs eat bologna?

Bologna is one of those ingredients where it’s not outright toxic for a dog to consume but it’s also not something that will enhance their health in any way.

The biggest concern with feeding your dog bologna is the added salt content. Because it’s a processed food, bologna can be extremely high in sodium. Too much salt in a dog’s diet can lead to liver and kidney issues.

It’s also a high fat food. While certain fats like those found in sardines can be healthy additions to a dogs diet, the type of fats found in processed meats like bologna and bologna sausages are not ideal and can lead to obesity.

Obesity in dogs is almost just as large a problem as it is in humans in recent years. Processed foods like bologna can contribute to this epidemic.

Bologna also often contains nitrates and sometimes even high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. High amounts of nitrates are carcinogenic for humans as well as dogs. HSFC is an ultra-processed food that both species should avoid for optimal health.

While bologna does contain moderate amounts of protein, there are many other healthier ways for dogs to consume protein.

You may be tempted by the different types of bologna found on grocery store shelves and at deli counters. New offerings such as all beef bologna and even organic bologna are gaining popularity in recent years. Avoid feeding your dog all types of bologna despite the best efforts of marketers in the space.

What to do if your dog ate bologna

Don’t panic if your pup swiped a piece or two off your plate. While it isn’t a healthy food for your dog, no immediate harm will be done.

Watch out for any signs of GI distress which is common when dogs consume high fat foods like bologna. Otherwise, they should be ok.

Bologna sausage on a plate with garlic, shallot and herbs.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Using bologna as a dog treat

Many have been using pieces of bologna or cut up hot dogs as training treats for years. Just because its commonplace, however, doesn’t mean its a wise choice. For all the reasons mentioned above, bologna should not be used as a dog treat.

We prefer making homemade biscuits like these pumpkin dog treats or simply using small pieces of cut up chicken, beef, pork, venison, etc. Store-bought freeze dried liver or organ meats are also a great option.

Any plain, high-quality protein source is a great way to motivate your dog. Whether teaching them how to walk on a leash or beginning e collar training, they’ll be just as happy with some chunks of chicken as bologna and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing it’s much better for their health and longevity.

Final thoughts

So, can dogs eat bologna? Yes, they can, however, they shouldn’t. When it comes to the best protein options for your dog, stick to higher quality choices and avoid any processed food like bologna.

A small amount won’t hurt them but it certainly won’t be doing anything beneficial for their health.