We get asked about pork… A LOT. It’s great that dog owners are concerned about what they are feeding their dog and want to make sure it’s safe and healthy for their beloved pet. The main questions we get asked are: Can my dog eat raw pork? Can my dog eat cooked pork?
The simple answer is: YES.
Why Do People Think Raw Pork is Unsafe?
There is some truth to this idea that raw or undercooked pork is not safe to eat. Pork CAN contain a parasite called trichinella spiralis larvae. They are a tissue-dwelling type of roundworm (that is also found in humans, by the way). This parasite can cause an infection called trichinosis. Trichinosis causes the same symptoms most worm-infestations do, including: diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. It can also cause lethargy, fever, muscle inflammation and pain, and stiffness. Pigs and bears are the animals most common to get it, and they get it from eating other meat infected with the parasite.
Humans are more likely to get the parasite than dogs.
So, this is where the idea that pork is not safe came from. BUT WAIT!!!
In Australia, our pork is considered free of the parasite trichinella spiralis larvae, and therefore one of the safest porks in the world.
Also, it should be noted that even in countries where trichinosis has been a problem, it is much less common now than it used to be. In the 2000’s the United States had just 12 cases per year of infection in humans. And remember, it’s more common in humans than dogs.
Therefore, raw pork is no more dangerous than any other meat, especially here in Australia.
What About Cooked Pork?
Cooking kills any parasites, so you really don’t have to worry about trichinosis at this point, even if your meat comes from outside Australia.
Yet, some still shy away from Pork meat – cooked or raw – saying it is fatty and salty. It’s considered a “junk food” to some. But is it really?
High in Fat
While bacon definitely keeps the fatty bits because that’s what make it taste so good when it’s fried up, trimmed pork (like what is used in commercial dog food), is high in protein and low in fat. This can be said of raw pork as well – just trim off the fat or choose a leaner part of the pig (stay away from the belly and side areas, which has the most fat). Pork shoulder (sometimes called pork butt) is fairly lean meat. Pork tenderloin, pork chops and pork roast are also considered lean cuts. In fact, they are often leaner than a skinless chicken thigh!
As another example, pork is much leaner than lamb. In 120 grams of minced meat, pork has 162 calories and 6.4g of fat versus lamb with 319 calories and 26.45g of fat. Interestingly, lamb also contains more sodium than pork, so it really doesn’t deserve the reputation of “junk food” meat.
Another “scare” with pork is the thought that it can cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and is a serious condition. Symptoms include vomiting, bloating, abdomen pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration and fever. It can be caused by many things; these are the most common:
· Obesity (overfeeding)
· High fat, low protein diet
· As a secondary problem to another disease, such as Cushing’s or diabetes
Some dogs are also genetically predisposed to pancreatitis. ANY DIET that has too much fat can be a factor in causing pancreatitis in dogs. As we mentioned above, pork can actually be quite lean, leaner than other meats. And, if you are feeding a Stay Loyal feed, you know our foods are balanced to give your dog the right amount of protein and fat.
If you are going to feed raw, just remember to trim off the fat or look for leaner cuts, especially if your dog already has pancreatitis, to prevent a flare up. Even for a healthy dog, trimming that fat is a good idea so they don’t get overweight.
Benefits of Pork
So not only is pork safe to feed your dog, raw or cooked, it has a lot of health benefits! Pork is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals including niacin, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, and phosphorus. This mix of vitamins and mineral is important as Vitamin D is essential to canine health – it helps with the absorption of calcium and in the balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
Pork also has a great amino acid profile, with all the essential amino acids your dog needs regenerate healthy muscle and tissue.
So, go ahead, feed your dog some pork – he may love it! And it’s a great alternative protein for those with allergies to chicken and beef.