Cavalier King Charles Spaniel smelling sausages.

Can Dogs Eat Sausage?
Fact Checked by our Vet

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

Are you looking for an effective training aid for your puppy? Maybe you have a food-motivated dog and are wondering, ‘can dogs eat sausage?’. Before swapping out old-school dog biscuits for sausage, here’s what you should know.


Can Dogs Eat Sausages?

Although dogs can eat sausage, they shouldn’t. Sausages usually contain a mix of meats, different flavourings – including spices of all kinds – and preservatives. Ultimately, there are a ton of extras that are not necessary and could even be harmful to your dog.

PRO TIP: Many sausage recipes include onion and/or garlic, which are highly toxic for dogs. Never give your dog sausage with these ingredients, as it’s easy to overdo it, and it might put them at risk of intoxication.

While sausages alone might not be toxic for dogs, they still shouldn’t be part of their weekly diet. A small monthly bite is probably harmless and could be considered a special treat. However, it’s better to avoid feeding sausage and opt instead for small pieces of plain meat.


5 Reasons Why Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat Sausages

Still tempted to feed sausage to your pup? Here are the main reasons why dogs shouldn’t eat sausage regularly:

Sausages are very fatty

Here in Australia, regulations prescribe that all sausages must have some lean meat. Nonetheless, a large percentage of the final product is still made up of fat. After all, it’s what makes sausages so delicious!

Vets agree that dogs should consume about 14% fat in their diet, with pups and nursing dogs needing slightly more [1]. However, the high fat content in sausages makes them a greasy treat that can quickly imbalance your dog’s diet. As you may already know, too much fat can swiftly turn into excess weight, which is the first step towards chronic illness in dogs [2].

High-sodium treats can be dangerous

According to research, dogs have a lower sodium tolerance than humans [3], so that flavoursome sausage link might wreak havoc on their system if you’re not careful. A typical sausage packs 400 to 600 milligrams of salt. Meanwhile, a medium-sized 15-kg dog only needs 100 milligrams of sodium a day, meaning one sausage is up to six times their daily intake.

Feeding dogs a diet high in sodium can lead to hypernatremia, a potentially dangerous condition caused by too much sodium in the blood. It manifests as muscle stiffening, jerking and even seizures resulting from acute dehydration [3]. Senior pups or those with pre-existing kidney, liver, and heart problems are especially vulnerable and should not be fed such high amounts of sodium.

Dextrose in sausages can cause health problems

Dextrose is a sweetener commonly used in processed foods as a flavouring agent and preservative. Although it’s deemed safe for consumption, too much of it can quickly affect your dog.

Excess sugar in your dog’s diet can lead to obesity. If your dog is already overweight, giving them more sugary foods won’t help. Senior pups and those with diabetes should also avoid treats containing dextrose for their health.

Sausages are high in preservatives

Although preservatives are necessary to keep processed food fresh for longer, some can be dangerous for dogs. Sulphite-containing compounds, while deemed safe for humans, have been linked with thiamine deficiency in dogs when consumed in large amounts [4].

According to the RSPCA, sulphur dioxide and potassium sulphite can lead to chronic thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which causes severe neurological symptoms. Dog food using these preservatives must also contain supplemental thiamine to ensure sufficient intake. However, this is not the case with sausages. As Australian vets know, unfortunately sulphite consumption can still inhibit thiamine when eaten alongside other foods that don’t contain sulphites.

Keep the risk low by eliminating sausages entirely or only offering a tiny bite once a month or less.

Common spices in sausages can be toxic for dogs

Although we’ve said it before, it bears repeating: many human condiments should never be given to your dog. This applies to all veggies in the allium family, such as onion, chives, or garlic, which are all commonly used to add flavour to food. Unfortunately, most sausages contain onion and garlic, making them a big no-no for your dog. Nutmeg is also very toxic to dogs, and although the possible amounts in sausage are small, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

PRO TIP: If you MUST give a bite of sausage to your dog, carefully read the ingredient list beforehand. Choose a brand without any added preservatives, spices, or artificial colourings. If possible, go for reduced-fat options and only offer a miniscule bite.


Cooked vs Raw: Can Dogs Eat Raw Sausages?

Feeding raw sausage to dogs is highly discouraged. Uncooked meat can breed bacteria and germs more easily, which is especially risky in sausage meat since it must be heavily processed before consumption.

Even though we don’t recommend feeding sausage to dogs, cooked sausage is the better option of the two.

Further to that, the cooking method matters. For example, you ought to avoid giving fried sausage to your dog. Frying adds excess oil to an already fatty item. It’s better to either boil or bake the sausage (without oil), to cut down on additional grease.


Sausage Replacement For Dogs

So, what can your pup eat instead of sausage when you’d like to give him a meaty treat?

Luckily, sausage replacements for dogs are straightforward: select any lean meat and use it as a high-protein treat. Chicken, beef, turkey or even sardines and mackerel make great snacks for your dog.

Unlike sausage, plain meat has little to no additives, preservatives or added sodium, making them a better choice for dogs of all ages. Additionally, most dogs thoroughly enjoy meaty bites as a training aid, so your pup won’t miss out by not having sausage.


Final Thoughts

While sausage isn’t inherently toxic for dogs, it’s best to avoid sharing with them. These delicious links are designed for the human palette and diet, so keep your pup away next time you fire up the grill. If you’re interested in high-protein treats, remember that plain pieces of cooked meat are the better option for most dogs.

Want to learn more about what types of food dogs can and can't eat?

Check out our full list below:

References

  1. Heinze, C. R. March 2018. “The Skinny on Fat”. Tufts Veterinary College. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/03/the-skinny-on-fat-part-1/
  2. Kealy et al. May 2002. “Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs”. Journal of the American Veterinary Association. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/220/9/javma.2002.220.1315.xml
  3. Thompson, L. J. May 2022. “Salt Toxicosis in Animals”. MSD Veterinary Manual. https://www.msdvetmanual.com/toxicology/salt-toxicosis/salt-toxicosis-in-animals  
  4. RSPCA. January 2022. “Are preservatives in pet food products a concern?” RSPCA Knowledgebase. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/are-preservatives-in-pet-food-products-a-concern/

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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