Your dog would probably love to chow down on a hot dog. But is that a good idea? Hot dogs could be considered a kind of mystery meat, full of ingredients that you might be surprised by, or might not recognize. Many of these ingredients can be toxic to dogs.
The Problems With Hot Dogs
Many hot dogs contain ingredients that are not good for dogs, such as sodium nitrate, which has been linked to cancer; monosodium glutamate (MSG); and sugars or artificial sweeteners. Hot dogs also contain seasonings, such as garlic and onion powder, and garlic and onions can be toxic to dogs if they eat too much.
The biggest problem with hot dogs, though, is salt. According to the National Academy of Sciences, a dog weighing 33 pounds only needs 200 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. The average hot dog contains more than 500 mg of sodium, so feeding your dog only one-half of a hot dog would probably put him way over his daily sodium limit.
Feeding a dog too much sodium can lead to dehydration. And excess sodium over time can lead to high blood pressure, just like it can in humans.
Another issue with hot dogs is that they are a choking hazard, especially for big dogs that might try to swallow them without chewing them.
What If Your Dog Snags a Hot Dog?
If your dog snags a hot dog while you're not looking, don't panic. Just one will probably not cause harm. He might get a bellyache or have some other digestive problems, like diarrhea, but this should pass within one day. You only need to call the vet if the diarrhea persists, or if he is vomiting with diarrhea, as this could lead to extreme dehydration.
Make sure that your dog has plenty of water available, since all that salt in the hot dog will probably make him thirsty.
Alternatives to Hot Dogs
Because they contain so many added ingredients that are not healthy for dogs, hot dogs are not a good choice for your pooch. If you want to give your dog a treat at the barbecue, it's best to give him some plain beef, pork, or chicken that has no salt or other seasoning on it. Just make sure to cut the meat up into bite-sized pieces.
This way, you know exactly what you are feeding your dog and the choking hazard is minimized.
Learn more about which human foods are safe for dogs here.