can german shepherds eat hot dogs

Can German Shepherds Eat Hot Dogs? Why They Shouldn’t

Technically speaking, German Shepherds can eat hot dogs. But that doesn’t mean that they should. Hot dogs are fatty foods that tend to contain preservatives and ingredients like garlic and onion powder which are toxic to German Shepherds. When consumed too frequently they could lead to digestive upset, diarrhea, dehydration, and other medical conditions.

Fed Your German Shepherd Hot Dogs?

Don’t worry, a hot dog or two won’t suddenly mean the end of the world for your German Shepherd. The worst thing that could happen would be vomiting or diarrhea which generally pass in a day or two. That said, if either one persists, consult a veterinarian immediately as your dog may get dehydrated. Otherwise, just be sure to provide your German Shepherd plenty of water and it’ll usually be fine.

Apart from that, it would be best to stop feeding your German Shepherd hot dogs, as they can lead to several health complications in the long term.

Harmful Effects Of Hot Dogs On German Shepherds

While not necessarily life threatening, hot dogs are by no means healthy. Again, they’re fatty foods which tend to contain harmful ingredients that may eventually cause health issues.

These issues are as follows:

Blood Disorders

Sodium nitrite is a common ingredient of processed meats like bacon and hot dogs. It adds flavor, preserves meat, and helps prevent the growth of botulism causing bacteria. As such sodium nitrite is an FDA approved preservative and color fixative for cured or processed meats.

With all that said however, high doses of sodium nitrite is known to cause a blood disorder called methemoglobinemia. A condition wherein the protein hemoglobin is unable to effectively release oxygen to the cells in the body. This then causes symptoms such as lethargy, seizures, vomiting, abdominal pain, and hypo or hyperthermia.

Additionally, garlic and onion poisoning may also lead to anemia.


When sodium nitrite combines with proteins they form into nitrosamines which may eventually cause cancer. Research has also shown a correlation between the amount of nitrites and cancer as dogs with mammary cancer showed higher amounts of nitrites in their bodies compared to healthy ones.

Heart Disease

A study shows that dogs with cardiac disease have higher concentrations of nitrite in their bodies compared to healthy dogs. This suggests that sodium nitrite and therefore hot dogs, play a role in the development of cardiovascular and heart disease.

That said, the study is quite limited and it did not find a correlation between nitrite concentrations with type or severity of the disease.


Feeding your German Shepherd fatty foods like hot dogs may lead to the development of pancreatitis, a life threatening condition characterized by the inflammation of the pancreas. When this happens, the pancreas fails to function properly and causes damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Pain of the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Fever


Hot dogs contain excessive amounts of sodium that tend to go way beyond a German Shepherd’s daily sodium needs. This means bad news as too much sodium can lead to dehydration and poisoning. In fact, feeding a German Shepherd more than 1.5 grams sodium per pound of its body weight may even prove fatal.


Finally, hot dogs are also choking hazards when served whole. This is especially true for large dogs like German Shepherds that tend to swallow food whole.

Do Hot Dogs Benefit German Shepherds In Any Way?

Well, hot dogs are packed with protein, which is great for German Shepherds and dogs in general. Other than that though, pretty much nothing else. So it probably isn’t wise to rely on them as a protein source for your German Shepherd when much safer and healthier alternatives exist.

Better Alternatives To Hot Dogs

how much should a german shepherd eat

Honestly, your best bet would be to stick with plain old dog food. There are breed specific ones in the market that are specially formulated to provide for your German Shepherd’s nutritional needs.

That said, if you prefer to feed your German Shepherd meat, then stick to unsalted and unseasoned ones. Avoid anything cured or processed like bacon and ham as they possess the same dangers as hot dogs.

Either way though, be sure to be mindful of your German Shepherd’s allergies. And if you ever become unsure of what to feed your dog, don’t hesitate to consult with a veterinarian.

Can German Shepherds Eat Hot Dogs?

To summarize, while German Shepherds can, they should not eat hot dogs. Hot dogs are extremely unhealthy and may cause a variety of issues such as digestive upset, diarrhea, and more serious health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and pancreatitis.

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