Can Dogs Eat Italian Sausage?

Dogs are carnivores – this is something all pet owners know really well. Therefore, it is not uncommon for them to wonder whether they can feed some meat products made for humans to their dogs. For example, what about Italian sausages? 

Can dogs eat Italian sausage? No, dogs cannot eat Italian sausages. In addition to being high in fat and spices, raw Italian sausages pose a risk of parasitic and bacterial infections, while cooked Italian sausages are considered processed food once again not suitable for dogs. 

In this article, we will talk about Italian sausages for dogs. We will explain what they are and why they are not considered dog-friendly food. Then we will give useful tips on what to do in case your dog eats Italian sausages. 


What Are Italian Sausages? 

Original Italian sausages are made with minced pork meat, seasonings (fennel seeds and anise seeds), and various spices (basil, garlic, red pepper, and black pepper). The pork meat can be alternatively replaced by beef or poultry, and other seasonings and spices can be included in the recipe. However, the one thing that marks the Italian sausage is the high percentage of fat (usually around 35% of fat). 

Why Are Italian Sausages Bad for Dogs? 

Meat is meat, right? Well, while in theory, all meats are suitable for dogs, meat products are not universally fit. Namely, as explained above, pork meat is only one of the ingredients in pork sausages. 

The other ingredients and the preparation method are the reasons Italian sausages are bad for dogs. To be more precise, let’s review the different reasons Italian sausages are bad for dogs. 

Reason Number 1: Too Much Fat 

Simply put, Italian sausages contain too much fat. Pork meat is fatty enough in itself, and when additionally enriched with the 35% fat, things get too heavy on your dog’s stomach and pancreas. Fat irritates the digestive system and may trigger an acute pancreatitis episode. 

Reason Number 2: Weight Gain and Obesity 

Another risk associated with high fat intake is unnecessary weight gain. Obesity is a widespread problem in domestic dogs. Although not a disease per se, obesity is a concerning risk factor. Obesity supports certain ailments and aggravates other pre-existing conditions. 

Reason Number 3: Heavily Processed Food 

Processed foods do not rank high on the dog’s food pyramid. Before the Italian sausages are made, the pork meat is usually cured. Then you have the sausage preparation itself and finally cooking. This is way too much processing for dogs. 

Reason Number 4: Food Infections 

Let’s assume you are skipping on the cooking part (to make the Italian sausage a bit less processed). This is even worse as raw meat can infect your dog with many life-threatening pathogens. For example, raw pork meat is likely to carry and transmit bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella

Reason Number 5: Garlic Toxicity 

One of the most important spices in Italian sausages is garlic (some recipes may include onion too). Garlic (and onion) is extremely toxic to dogs. Namely, all Allium family members contain a chemical compound that damages the erythrocytes (red blood cells), resulting in anemia. Garlic has the same effect in all forms (raw, powder, cooked). 

Reason Number 6: Hard-to-Digest Spices

Italian sausages contain red and black pepper. Both spices are too harsh for the dog’s digestive system and likely to trigger upsets (diarrhea, vomiting, and gases). In more severe cases, such spices can also damage the lining of the digestive tract causing bleeding ulcers. 

Reason Number 7: Artificial Additives 

All meat products include lots of artificial additives (colors, emulsifiers, preservatives). The amount of additives is even more significant if the pork meat was cured before being used for making the Italian sausages. Today, it is considered that exposure to such additives is harmful and may increase the risk of certain types of cancer.  

What Do I Do if My Dog Ate an Italian Sausage?

So, if you left the Italian sausages on the table and your dog stole some, then you need to stay calm and get proactive. First of all, you must separate the dog from the non-eaten Italian sausages. Then, go through the ingredient list (or cookbook if they were homemade). 

If your dog did not eat much and the Italian sausages were made without toxic ingredients (like, for example, garlic powder) and extra irritating ingredients (red or black pepper), you are probably looking into an episode of digestive upset. This is something you will be able to manage at home with some Pepto Bismol and a bland diet. 

However, if the dog ate a great deal or if the Italian sausages were made with non-do-friendly ingredients, you need to call the vet. Then, in most cases, you will need to make a trip to the vet’s office for physical examination and proper stabilization. 

In case you are not sure how much your dog ate or which ingredients were used in the Italian sausages, it is advisable to err on the side of caution and go to the vet’s office. 

Can Dogs Eat Italian Seasoning?

With Italian sausages being covered, it is time we say a word or two about Italian seasoning and whether it is dog-friendly or not. The Italian seasoning is traditionally made with dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. 

Basil and thyme, and rosemary are okay for dogs (even beneficial). However, in larger amounts, oregano causes kidney and liver issues, while marjoram contains toxins that trigger digestive upsets. So, to wrap up – the answer is no, dogs cannot eat Italian seasonings, and you must keep it away from your dog’s food bowl

Summing Up: Can Dogs Eat Italian Sausage 

All in all, the final verdict is no – dogs cannot eat Italian sausages. More often than not, Italian sausages include potentially toxic ingredients. Even if there are no such ingredients, the fat content is way too big and likely to wreak havoc on the dog’s sensitive tummy. 

Therefore, you must never purposely feed your dog Italian sausage, and in case of accidents, you must stay calm and, depending on the circumstances, either manage the situation at home or go to the vet’s office. 


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!

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