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Can Dogs Eat Corned Beef? Vet-Verified Safety & Nutrition Facts

Written by: Grant Piper

Last Updated on June 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

close up Corned beef on a plate

Can Dogs Eat Corned Beef? Vet-Verified Safety & Nutrition Facts


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Corned beef is a popular salt-cured meat that’s consumed in a variety of forms. Some people buy corned beef from their local deli and make sandwiches. Corned beef is also popular at certain times of the year, such as Saint Patrick’s Day. That means that there are ample opportunities for dogs to come across this type of meat.

But dogs should not eat corned beef. Corned beef poses a number of risks to dogs with no benefits, which makes it a food that should be avoided at all times. Here is everything you need to know about corned beef, including why it is dangerous, signs that your dog has eaten too much corned beef, and what to do if your dog eats some by accident.

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Why Dogs Can’t Eat Corned Beef

There are a number of reasons why dogs should not eat corned beef, but the two main reasons are its high salt content and the presence of nitrates.

Back in the day, curing meat was one of the only ways to preserve it before the invention of the refrigerator. This brine makes corned beef extremely salty compared to uncured meat. A single piece of corned beef can contain over 3,000 mg of sodium. A small piece of corned beef (3oz) can contain upwards of 1,000 mg of sodium. Although eating corned beef one time likely won’t hurt your dog, these are unsafe levels for dogs to ingest on a regular basis.

Since corned beef is a processed meat, it can also contain other things, such as synthetic preservatives, herbs, and spices, which can make your dog ill. Corned beef is also fatty, and excess fat, paired with excess salt, can stress your dog’s digestive system and lead to lingering problems.

For these reasons, you should avoid feeding your dog any amount of corned beef. The risks are too high to justify willingly giving a dog any corned beef.

an opened can of corned beef
Image Credit: mdbildes, Shutterstock

Dangers of Feeding Corned Beef to Dogs

The biggest risk associated with the consumption of corned beef is the level of salt present. Corned beef can contain unhealthy levels of sodium. Eating too much sodium can cause a slew of problems for dogs, ranging from mild to severe. Mild problems include dehydration, increased thirst, and increased urination. More severe problems can include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, or even seizures.

Corned beef can also contain herbs and spices that can be dangerous to dogs (such as garlic and onion). Corned beef also contains potentially unhealthy levels of fat. If a dog eats too much corned beef, they can potentially ingest enough fat to give them pancreatitis, a severe health condition that can be fatal.

What Happens If Your Dog Eats Corned Beef?

If your dog eats a small amount of corned beef, you should have nothing to worry about. Monitor your dog for any signs of vomiting or diarrhea and ensure they have access to clean water. If your dog eats a large amount of corned beef (such as a full package, pound, or can), you might want to consider taking them to the veterinarian. Dogs can typically eat small amounts of unsafe or unhealthy foods without too much concern. However, if you see concerning signs in your dog after ingesting corned beef or if you are worried about the amount they consumed, contact your veterinarian.

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Can Dogs Eat Regular Beef?

Regular beef is safe for dogs to eat, especially in moderation, provided that it has no seasonings on it. The reason why corned beef is unsafe has to do with the brine. The primary difference between regular beef and corned beef is the brining process. In fact, the name corned beef comes from the salt used to cure it. In the past, large salt rocks were called corn or kernels. Therefore, corned beef is called that because of the corn salt used to create it. In that way, corned beef reads like salted or salty beef. If people referred to corned beef as salty beef, then it might be more apparent that it is unsafe for dogs.

slices of beef on wooden chopping board
Image Credit: ValdisOsins, Shutterstock

Can Dogs Eat Any Canned Meats?

Yes. There are canned meats that are safe for dogs. Canned poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is usually safe. Any meat that is canned in simple water without any spices or additives is usually safe. However, if you are going to feed canned meat to your dog, you should buy canned dog food instead of getting something off the grocery store shelf. Any human foods have the potential to contain additional salts and spices that could be harmful to your dog. Always check the ingredients of canned meat to ensure that it only contains meat and water and nothing else.

Can Dogs Eat Pastrami?

No. Pastrami is extremely similar to corned beef. Like corned beef, pastrami is cured in brine, which contains the harmful levels of salt that makes corned beef a no-go for dogs. In addition to being cured in brine, pastrami also typically is rubbed in salt and spices, which can also be harmful to dogs. Therefore, pastrami should be avoided the same way that corned beef should be avoided.

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Corned beef is a food that dogs should avoid at all times. Corned beef contains unhealthy levels of sodium and fat. It can also contain spices and herbs that are unsafe for dogs. There are no benefits to feeding corned beef to dogs, especially when there are healthier and safer alternatives. The high risk, paired with the lack of benefits, makes corned beef a worthless food for dogs. If your dog eats small amounts by accident, they should be fine, but you should monitor them for any signs of illness or discomfort.


Featured Image Credit: kawamura_lucy, Shutterstock

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