Can Dogs Eat Lunch Meat (Deli Meat)? Is it Harmful?

Last Updated on 11/17/2021 by Veronica Jones

Is your dog begging for a slice of lunch meat that you’re trying to add to your sandwich or deli board? If so, you may be wondering if you can slip him a slice to enjoy.

But can dogs eat lunch meat? Is it safe for pups to consume?

If you’re considering giving your dog lunch meat, read this article first.

Can dogs eat lunch meat?

No, canines shouldn’t eat lunch meant or deli meats because they are processed and contain excessive amounts of sodium, nitrates, spices and additives that could lead to health problems for your pup. If dogs eat deli meat in large amounts they could get very sick.

Can dogs eat lunch meat?

What will happen if your dog eats lunch meats?

Can a dog eat lunch meat? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients in lunch meat (often called luncheon meat) that could harm your pet.


Dogs should not consume too much salt. Their digestive systems are not designed to digest it in the same way as a human’s body can. Digesting lunch meat in large quantities could affect your dog’s health and cause digestive and kidney problems.

Salt poisoning in canines should be treated as a medical emergency. Contact your veterinarian if you think your dog has consumed way too much salt or shows any of the signs of salt poisoning listed below.

If a dog eats too much salt, he will naturally drink more water to quench his thirst and prevent damage from being done to his body. However, if your pooch ingests too much salt over a short period of time, the cells in a dog’s body start to release water to try to balance the excess amount of salt. This process damages brain cells and can cause neurological symptoms such as headaches and seizures.

Symptoms of salt poisoning in dogs:

  • Stomach pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions
  • Extreme thirst and urination
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of energy and appetite
  • Difficulty breathing

If your furry friend experiences salt poisoning, it is likely that they will need IV fluid therapy and electrolytes to control dehydration. Your vet will gradually adjust the salt levels in your dog’s body to avoid a sudden change in sodium levels, which can cause a heart attack or brain swelling.

What will happen if your dog eats lunch meats?


Nitrates are used in processed meat to help preserve them. Research suggests that the nitrates found in cured meats could lead to cancer and affect cardiovascular health. It’s best to avoid giving your fur baby any foods that contain nitrates.


Cured meats, including lunch meat, often contain spices such as pepper, garlic and paprika that are highly toxic to dogs. Garlic contains thiosulfate that deprives the red blood cells in a dog’s body of oxygen, causing them damage.



If a dog’s diet contains too much fat, his pancreas can become inflamed and lead to pancreatitis. Processed foods can often cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs as their digestive systems are not used to breaking down high levels of fat found in lunch meat. If you give your dog fatty meat, you can cause them long-term health problems.

High calories

As with most human foods, lunch meat contains a huge amount of calories. If your dog eats a slice or two of deli meat on top of his daily allowance of dog food, the extra calories could quickly lead to obesity. Obesity in dogs can lack energy, be lethargic and cause a number of life-changing conditions such as:

  • A reduced life expectancy
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis


Listeria is a bacteria that is often found in soil, water and some foods such as lunch meat. If your dog consumes food that contains this bacteria it could make your dog sick and even cause neurological health problems in rare cases.

Symptoms of listeria in dogs include:

  • Sickness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Sore muscles
  • Stiff joints

If not treated quickly, listeria can be fatal in dogs so seek urgent veterinary care if you think your pup is at risk of listeriosis.

What to do if your dog accidentally eats lunch meat instead of dog food?

If your pooch eats a tiny piece of lunch meat or any processed meats, he will most likely experience some diarrhoea and sickness. Keep a close eye on your pet and make sure he has access to fresh water. If you’re concerned about your pup, contact your vet for advice.

Is deli turkey meat safe for doggy consumption?

Whilst deli turkey meat contains less sodium than other processed meats such as beef or pork, it’s still not a healthy option for your pooch.

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t share turkey with your pup. The seasoning that is often used to flavour turkey can irritate your canine’s bowels and lead to other digestive issues such as diarrhoea and vomiting. The fat in turkey skin is even believed to cause pancreatitis in dogs, which can cause your dog pain and discomfort as well as other health issues. Many dogs also have food allergies that pup owners should be aware of when introducing new foods.

Is deli turkey meat safe for doggy consumption?

So, should my dog eat deli meat? 

You shouldn’t buy your dog deli meat. It is much safer and healthier to feed your pup dog food that is full of the minerals and nutrients they need to maintain good health and keep their body’s working properly. Whilst a few slices shouldn’t cause serious harm, there are much better your furry friend could be eating such as dog treats. Opt for lean, unprocessed meats such as chicken breast and cook it yourself so you don’t have to worry about added fat, sodium or nitrates.

Remember to always check the ingredients of foods that you feed to your pets. Be aware of and avoid the ingredients that could cause harm.

Looking for More Great Articles About What Your Dog Can (or Can’t) Eat?

Reference list

  1. Pet poison helpline “salt poisoning in dogs” Accessed 10th November 2021
  2. Hillspet “can dogs eat turkey”
  3. AKC “pancreatitis in dogs” Accessed 10th November 2021
  4. Royal Canin “health risks of obese dogs” Accessed 10th November 2021

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