Can Dogs Eat Pastrami?

Pastrami is a popular deli meat enjoyed by many people. But what about our furry friends – can dogs eat pastrami too?

This is a question many dog owners have when considering what human foods are safe and appropriate to share. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at pastrami and whether it presents any risks or benefits for canine companions.

We’ll explore the ingredients, nutrition, and any safety issues to help you determine if sharing a bite of pastrami is okay for Fido. Read on to learn the ins and outs of this delicatessen favorite and get the facts on can dogs eat pastrami.

Can Dogs Eat Pastrami?

No, dogs should not eat pastrami. While a small taste may not cause issues, pastrami is not a suitable food for dogs due to its seasoning and high sodium content.

Pastrami can potentially cause gastrointestinal upset or nutritional imbalance in dogs. It’s best to avoid offering pastrami and instead choose dog-friendly alternatives your pup can enjoy.

What is Pastrami?

Pastrami is a cured and smoked cut of beef brisket that is typically very salty. To make pastrami, beef brisket is covered in spices like black pepper, coriander, garlic, and most notably – lots of salt.

The seasoned meat is then either cold smoked or steam smoked, which helps infuse the flavors.

Once smoked, pastrami develops a reddish-pink exterior and tender, moist interior. It’s commonly sliced thin and served on sandwiches, as an appetizer, or enjoyed on its own.

Variations of pastrami include turkey or pork pastrami made with the same curing and smoking process using different cuts of meat.

The salty, peppery flavor profile makes pastrami a popular deli favorite for humans but also presents risks for dogs.

Nutrition in Pastrami

Taking a closer look at the nutritional profile of pastrami gives more insight into why it’s not suitable for dogs.

Pastrami is very high in sodium due to the curing process, with a single ounce containing over 730mg of sodium on average.

To put this in perspective, the recommended daily sodium limit for dogs is around 500mg.

Too much sodium can lead to health issues like dehydration in dogs.

Pastrami is also very low in nutrients and high in fat.

An ounce of beef pastrami contains around 110 calories, 9g of fat, and no fiber or vitamins.

A dog’s diet needs a balanced mix of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to support their health.

Pastrami won’t contribute any beneficial nutrients to a dog’s diet and could even disrupt their nutritional balance if fed regularly.

Is There Any Benefits for Dogs Eating Pastrami?

While the flavorful taste of pastrami may seem appealing to some dogs, there really aren’t any nutritional benefits for canines.

As discussed above, pastrami is high in sodium, fat, and calories but low in nutrients. It won’t provide any proteins, vitamins, or minerals that a dog needs.

Occasional human food in small amounts isn’t necessarily harmful for dogs.

However, pastrami should be avoided due to its high sodium content and fatty cuts of meat.

There are better options that are both enjoyable for dogs and provide actual health benefits.

Is There Any Risks for Dogs Eating Pastrami?

The biggest risks associated with dogs eating pastrami stem from its high sodium content.

Consuming too much sodium can potentially lead to gastrointestinal upset, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and even toxicity in severe cases.

Dogs have more delicate systems and do not process salt as well as humans.

Other potential risks from eating pastrami include:

  • Fatty meat: The fat content in pastrami could lead to pancreatitis in susceptible dogs if eaten in large quantities.
  • Spices: Ingesting too many spices like black pepper or garlic powder could irritate a dog’s digestive tract.
  • Nitrates/nitrites: These preservatives used in curing meats have been linked to potential cancer risks with regular high consumption.
  • Choking hazards: Slim pieces of pastrami could pose a choking risk for small dogs or those with a ravenous appetite.

While an occasional small bite likely won’t cause harm, it’s best to avoid offering dogs pastrami or large amounts due to these health and safety concerns.

Moderation is key, but there are more suitable options that provide enjoyment without risks.

Can Dogs Eat Pastrami Safely?

Because of the health risks outlined above, it’s generally not recommended to feed dogs pastrami.

However, if an owner decides to occasionally share very small amounts as a rare treat, here are some guidelines:

  • Give only a tiny bite – less than 1/4 inch cube, not full slices.
  • Make sure to wash or wipe off any excess sodium-heavy seasoning first.
  • Only give to adult dogs and monitor closely for any adverse reactions.
  • Never leave full slices unattended where a dog could easily consume more without supervision.
  • Always have fresh water available and limit human food treats to just a few times per year, never as a regular snack.

Even with precautions, it’s still safer to simply avoid pastrami and choose dog-friendly meat alternatives instead of risking potential health issues.

The tiny enjoyment hardly outweighs concerns for a pet’s wellbeing.

Alternatives for Pastrami

If filling that deli meat craving, here are some healthier options for dogs that provide the same enjoyment without compromising their health:

  • Thinly sliced chicken or turkey breast – lower in fat and sodium versus beef or pork.
  • Small bits of cooked lean stew meat or shredded chicken – provides protein without risky seasoning.
  • Slices of boiled ham or roast beef without any seasoning added – easy to digest and more nutritious than cured meats.
  • Dog-safe cooked sausage like all-meat chicken or turkey sausage – check for acceptable seasonings.
  • Lean deli sliced roast beef or chicken – get the lowest sodium option available.

Always monitor your dog’s reaction the first few times trying human foods to ensure they are tolerated well.

These alternatives suit both dog’s nutritional needs and owner’s soft spots for pampering pooches.

Expert Opinion

Most veterinary organizations agree that occasional human food in moderation likely won’t cause harm, but recommend focusing a dog’s diet on complete and balanced commercial or homemade dog food.

When it comes to deli meats like pastrami, veterinarians warn against risking problems from high sodium, spices, or fatty cuts of meat. According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary advisor for petMD.com:

“I do not recommend feeding dogs pastrami. The high salt content can cause health issues for dogs like glucose intolerance, pancreatitis, or even salt toxicity. There are much healthier treat options for dogs that won’t pose any risks.”

The American Kennel Club also states “dogs should not eat human sausage, lunch meats, or other fatty processed meats like pastrami or salami due to risks of digestive upset, obesity, and other conditions.”

For occasional treats, it’s always best to choose wholesome human-grade items low in sodium, fat, and unnecessary seasonings. Leave the pastrami slices for yourself!


In summary, while pastrami’s tempting aroma may attract some dogs, this boldly flavored deli meat poses too many risks for canine companions.

The high sodium content, unnecessary calories and fat, combined with the possibilities of gastrointestinal upset make pastrami an unsuitable treat for dogs.

So, Dogs can’t eat pastrami! Stick to more wholesome protein options without added seasonings to pamper pups in a healthy way.

By choosing safer alternatives, owners can feel good about an occasional surprise without compromising their furry friend’s well-being.

When in doubt, whole cuts of meat and dog treats made especially for canines are the best options to fill that treat-giving need.

Key Takeaways

  • Pastrami is too high in sodium and fat to be appropriate or beneficial for dogs.
  • Even small amounts could potentially cause gastrointestinal upset, dehydration or other health issues in dogs due to their lower salt tolerance.
  • Safer human food alternatives for occasional dog treats include plain deli meat slices low in sodium or small bits of lean cuts of meat without seasonings.
  • It’s best to avoid prepared or cured meats like pastrami, salami or sausage specifically made for humans due to risks of digestive problems or toxicity in dogs.
  • A balanced, species-appropriate commercial or home-cooked diet tailored to your dog’s needs is healthier than regular human table food scraps.


Here are 10 important questions and answers for the FAQ section:

What are the signs of sodium toxicity in dogs?

Signs of too much sodium intake or salt toxicity in dogs can include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, lethargy, loss of appetite, seizures, or potential organ damage in severe cases. Watch for these symptoms and contact your vet if they occur after eating salty foods.

Can I give my dog a tiny piece of pastrami once a month?

While small amounts on rare occasions likely won’t cause harm, it’s still not recommended as there is never a completely safe amount of an unsafe food. Much like sweets for humans, it’s better for owners and their dogs if certain people foods are just off limits. An occasional healthy dog treat or training reward is a safer option.

Why is sodium dangerous for dogs?

Dogs’ kidneys are less efficient at processing sodium than humans’. High sodium intake can potentially cause electrolyte or fluid imbalance issues like dehydration or hypertension in dogs. Their systems also do not have a similar physiological need for salt. Too much sodium over time has also been linked to health issues like pancreatitis, obesity and even cancer. Their requirements are generally 1/10 that of humans.

My dog already ate some pastrami, what symptoms should I watch for?

Keep an eye out for potential salt poisoning signs like vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, drooling, lethargy. If your dog exhibits these or seems distressed, contact your vet right away. For a small amount, increased urination to flush salts is most likely. But contact your vet if any concerns or issues persist after a few hours. They can assess if any monitoring or treatment is needed.

Can I season chicken or turkey for my dog as a healthier alternative to pastrami?

While plain chicken or turkey would be better options, it’s still not recommended to add any seasonings that are not specifically formulated for dogs. Most seasoning mixes contain garlic or onion powder which can be toxic to dogs, along with excess salt content. For homemade meals, it’s always safest to cook meat plain without added seasonings.

My dog begs for my sandwiches, how can I train him to stop?

The best way is to teach your dog the “leave it” command using high value treats only during training. Have them follow basic commands before mealtimes to mentally stimulate them. Try offering low sodium snacks only when you eat to redirect begging. Most importantly, do not give in to begging to discourage the behavior over time. Be consistent and they will learn.

Is turkey pastrami made the same curing process as beef?

Yes – regardless of the type of meat used like beef, turkey or pork, the pastrami preparation method is the same. Meat is rubed with salt and spices then slowly smoked or steamed. This curing process infuses very high sodium levels into any meat prepared as pastrami. Turkey versions may contain slightly less fat than beef, but risks of digestive upset, dehydration or salt toxicity from the sodium remain if fed to dogs.

My dog has a sensitive stomach – is pastrami especially risky?

Dogs with pre-existing digestive sensitivities or food allergies are definitely best avoiding people foods like pastrami due to the unnecessary risks involved. Their stomachs may be more susceptible to issues from seasonings, fat or salt. Plain proteins paired with a hydrolyzed diet prescribed by your vet are the healthiest option for dogs with known stomach sensitivities versus tempting them with risky snacks.

How much pastrami could make a small dog sick?

Even a small amount of highly salted foods like pastrami can potentially cause issues for tiny dogs. Their smaller bodies are more susceptible to diet-related health problems. It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific amount, so it’s best to simply avoid offering any pastrami or similarly cured deli meats to small dogs. Their stomachs are too delicate to risk problems from unnecessary salts, spices or fats.

My dog ate some of my lunch meat – how long until symptoms may show?

If your dog ingested a small amount of lunch meat like pastrami, keep an eye out for potential gastrointestinal symptoms over the next 8-12 hours. Effects like vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy may not always present depending on the amount eaten. But watch carefully during that timeframe and contact your vet right away if any issues develop that cause concern for your pet’s wellbeing.

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