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Can Dogs Eat Corned Beef? Is It Safe For Dogs?

Joanna Woodnutt

Last Updated: December 7, 2022 | 5 min read | 4 Comments

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This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate corned beef, we recommend you contact your own veterinarian immediately.

Food that gets a dog excited isn’t necessarily good for them. This might have you thinking if your dog can partake in some meaty goodness. But can dogs eat corned beef? Is corned beef safe for dogs?

While a very tempting prospect for most dogs, overconsumption can make your dog very sick. So, if you’re wondering, ‘can dogs eat corned beef?’ the short answer is no.

Beef that is corned is made by curing beef in salt and is traditionally made from brisket. You can often find it on a deli menu in the U.S., especially in Jewish areas since it is a common Kosher beef option.

What is commonly referred to as ‘corned beef’ in the U.K. is the minced form, which is prepared by finely mincing the salt-cured beef, adding gelatin, and molding it into shape and slicing, canning it.

It’s often seasoned, which can further complicate matters for canine diets. Let’s find out why it’s bad and what to do if your dog eats some.

Can Corned Beef Make A Dog Sick?

Unfortunately, if enough is consumed, it can cause serious harm to your pet. So, if your dog eats some, there are a number of things you need to be aware of.

Corned Beef sliced on a white plate
If it hasn’t been prepared or stored properly, beef can harbor bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Salt Poisoning

One of the most serious problems it can cause is acute salt poisoning if eaten in a large enough quantity in one go. Acute salt poisoning, whereby excess sodium is taken into the body, is a dangerous problem in dogs, requiring immediate veterinary attention. Sodium is critical for normal bodily functions, but it needs to be within a particular concentration range. Therefore, if consumed in excess, it can be extremely harmful.

Gut And Digestive Issues

The consumption of processed beef may also cause other problems, such as gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, and food poisoning.

Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the gut. Even if the sodium content ingested is not sufficient to induce salt poisoning, there can be enough irritation of the gut to cause vomiting or diarrhea. The pancreas, an organ associated with digestion, can also be inflamed, leading to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be caused by eating foods with high-fat content.

Food poisoning is also a potential concern. Other spices that may have been used to season the meat can cause problems as well.

Watch Out For The Packaging

This packaging is not digestible and can become lodged in the gut. Cuts on the gums and tongue from sharp edges of opened cans may be an issue if an enthusiastic dog is eating their find with gusto. And paper or plastic wrap around deli meat can also cause blockages.

Will My Dog Get Sick If He Ate Corned Beef?

Pug Laying on the Floor Looking Sick
The bigger the dog, the more it takes to make them sick.

Whether or not your dog will get sick from salt poisoning depends mainly on how much he consumes and his weight. In the case of acute salt poisoning, the initial symptom is usually vomiting, and ­— depending on how much was ingested — this can be followed by diarrhea. Other symptoms you might see with acute salt poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty walking properly
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death

The time can vary, but vomiting can commence within minutes in severe cases. Other symptoms can develop within the hour or several hours, again depending on how much was ingested. While salt poisoning is often the most urgent concern following ingestion, other serious conditions may also develop. These conditions often have overlapping symptoms.

Other Illnesses

Gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the gut, results in vomiting or diarrhea. This soon leads to dehydration and a painful belly.

The pancreas, an organ involved in digestion, can also become inflamed, resulting in pancreatitis. You may also notice that your dog has assumed the ‘praying position’ —their front legs and head are lowered onto the floor, while their hind legs and belly are in the standing position. This indicates their belly is in pain. Pancreatitis is associated with the consumption of food with a high-fat content, which this type of food definitely is. In its most severe form, it can be life-threatening.

Food poisoning, due to bacteria present in meat, again produces some overlapping symptoms. Vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, and lethargy are all potential symptoms of food poisoning in dogs. If there are any other spices contained in the product, depending on what they are, there is potential for other problems.

What Should I Do If My Dog Has Eaten Corned Beef?

American-style corned beef on a supermarket or deli tray, with the slices folded back
It is probably best to err on the side of caution and contact your veterinarian for advice. 

If your dog eats any you should do the following:

  1. If possible, find out how much he ate
  2. Work out how long it has been since he ate it
  3. Check whether he has eaten any packaging
  4. Is your dog showing any symptoms?
  5. Call your veterinarian as soon as possible with all this information, along with your dogs’ approximate weight

If he consumes a small amount, especially in a large dog, it may not warrant any further action, but if significant amounts have been eaten you will be advised to bring your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

If your dog has started showing symptoms already, then you should definitely bring him to the vet. If your dog has eaten the meat within the last hour or two, your vet will likely give an injection to cause your dog to vomit. This prevents the product from being digested and absorbed by the body.

Treatment Options

If it is too late to induce vomiting, any symptoms that appear will be treated, and he will be monitored closely. Your dog will probably be put on an IV drip and given any drugs deemed necessary. Depending on his symptoms, they will prescribe pain relief, anti-vomiting drugs, and gastro-protectant drugs. He may also have his blood taken. In severe cases, urine output will be monitored, as will kidney function and salt levels in the body. In the case of ingestion of any packaging, they take x-rays to ascertain if any obstruction is present.

My Dog Ate Corned Beef, Will He Be Okay?

In most cases, when treatment is started before symptoms begin, the outcome is usually favorable. However, it is possible for a dog to die from eating it, especially when a large quantity was consumed. This is why it is best to err on the side of caution and call your veterinarian if you think your pet has digested some.

Grilled deli style Reuben sandwich served with potato chips and a dill pickle
Whether your dog will be okay often depends on several factors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Corned Beef Kill Dogs?

Yes, it can kill dogs if consumed in a large enough quantity or if treatment is started too late. However, if treatment is started quickly, the outcome is more favorable.

Is Corned Beef Healthy?

It is not a healthy food to feed your pet. It has a high fat and salt content, and it is, therefore, not recommended to feed it to your dog.

Can Dogs Have Spam?

Canned meats such as Spam can be mistaken for the canned version of corned beef. Spam also contains salt, sugar, and sodium nitrite. It is inadvisable for your dog to be fed Spam.

What About Other Processed Meats?

Other deli or pre-packaged sliced meats, such as pastrami, ox tongue, salami, prosciutto, and saucisson can resemble corned beef. If these meats have a comparable or greater salt or fat content, they too can have a similar effect.

Final Thoughts

In general, any processed or cured meat (including hot dogs) is unsuitable for your dog due to there often being a high fat or salt content. If he does happen to eat processed beef or any similar product, then you should contact your veterinarian for advice. By and large, it is advisable to feed dogs one of many available dog-specific foods that have been carefully formulated to provide them with a complete and balanced diet.

Brown labrador eat a carrot

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