Humans feel a basic need to eat together and to feed each other. The term “break bread” means so much more than breaking a loaf of bread into smaller chunks — it means sitting down with members of our tribe and bonding. You consider your animal companions to be part of your tribe. So, can dogs eat pepperoni?
As meaningful as it is to share the same “loaf,” sometimes it isn’t safe. For example, loving parents don’t give taffy or peanut butter toast to their infants. Out of love, they share a safer food. That’s exactly how it is with pepperoni for your beloved pooch.
Is Pepperoni Bad for Dogs?
One of the best habits you can develop is reading labels. Not only does it gets easier with time, but you’ll be surprised what you learn about products you used to feel safe using. Labels make it much easier to choose more healthful foods to feed your furry buddies.
As tasty as it is, pepperoni and many other processed types of meat contain a large amount of sodium. Sodium chloride is the chemical way of describing table salt. It can raise blood pressure which increases the risk of heart and kidney damage.
Without available water, too much of it causes salt poisoning, an often fatal condition of severe dehydration. Pepperoni also contains preservatives that are known carcinogens. Other ingredients include artificial coloring, fat, sugar, and spicy seasonings that irritate dogs’ digestive systems.
To avoid diarrhea or even pancreatitis, steer away from hot chilis, paprika, mustard, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, black pepper, onions, and garlic. So, can dogs eat pepperoni? You know they’d LOVE to eat it, but it is definitely bad for them. Now, on to sharing some nutritional alternatives.
Can Dogs Eat Cheese Pizza?
If you substitute some of the ingredients, then yes! Dogs’ digestive systems and nutritional needs are different from ours, as we’ll discuss in a moment. When you learn to substitute the milk products in the cheese, the carbs in the crust, the acid in the tomatoes, the spices and sugar in the sauce, and the fat and salt and chemicals in the pepperoni, then it’s all systems go.
Great “cheese” substitutes for your dog’s pizza:
Don’t say “Eeewww!” You know some of the things dogs eat. . . . . .
- Carrots (cooked or raw)
- Oatmeal (cooked)
- Peanut butter (without toxic xylitol sweetener!)
- Squash of all kinds (Read our Happy Tails post on zucchini.)
- Sweet potato
- A coarse or smooth mash made of one or more of the above
Check out some great recipes at the end of this post.
Can Dogs Have Milk & Cheese?
Although nursing puppies need their mother’s milk, their bodies stop producing the enzyme lactase. Lactase enables them to digest the milk sugar lactose, which they no longer need once they begin eating solid food. In addition to being lactose-intolerant, many dogs are allergic to the proteins in cow’s milk. Equally, important an allergy often extends to other dairy products such as cheese.
Cheese loses much of its lactose during the ripening or fermentation process, so different types contain different amounts. For dogs without milk allergies, eating small amounts of cheese is good as long as it’s free of acquired mold, sugar, toxic artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, and other additives. Plain organic yogurt is best.
Cottage cheese is less processed but contains more lactose. Some types have added milk. Mozzarella is an acceptable choice because it contains less fat and sodium (salt) than most other types of cheese.
Parmesan cheese, common on pizza, is very high in sodium. What’s more, the yellow powdered crumbs commonly sold as grated Parmesan cheese are usually manufactured with the addition of salt, cellulose powder (refined wood pulp to provide an inert bulk filler), and potassium sorbate (a chemical salt used as a preservative in foods, cosmetics, and other products). Furthermore, the labeling is unclear as to whether “100% Grated Parmesan” indicates “100% Parmesan” or “100% grated.”
What’s Wrong With Cheese?
What are the signs of lactose intolerance & milk allergy? Any or all of the following within about twelve hours of consuming milk products:
- Abdominal pain
Plant-based milk and cheese can provide a safe and nutritious substitute for cow and goat milk. You always want to read the label to avoid added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients. The artificial sweetener xylitol is toxic, as are macadamia nuts and chocolate. Given that, acceptable milk substitutes in moderation include:
Why no peanut milk? According to the National Peanut Board, peanut milk is in the works.
Train Your Dog that Pizza Means to Wait for a Reward
Don’t ever feel obligated to give your dogs everything you eat even though they want it. Instead, offer them a substitute treat. Since you’re their pack leader, it’s your responsibility to oversee their health and to teach them manners. They understand that they don’t always eat the same food you’re eating at the same moment you do. At least they understand if you train them. Foods dogs shouldn’t have:
- Avocados: A fatty acid called persin is toxic to many animals.
- Caffeine: The stimulant that humans love is toxic to many animals.
- Chocolate: Even small amounts contain stimulants.
- Fat in excess: Contributes to obesity and even pancreatitis.
- Grapes and raisins: Cause kidney failure in many animals.
- Macadamia nuts: The exact cause is unknown but these nuts are toxic to dogs.
- Milk products: Certain sugars and fatty acids are difficult for canines to digest.
- Onions: In the same family as garlic, they can cause anemia.
- Sodium: Not only causes dehydration but can lead to sodium poisoning.
- Sugar: Leads to weight gain, tooth decay, and even diabetes.
- Yeast dough: Eaten raw, it rises, ferments, and not only can bring about alcohol poisoning but also painfully bloats and blocks your pet’s digestive tract.
Most professional dog training programs emphasize consistency, repetition, and positivity. Your dog will pick up on what to expect from you as the pack leader. Resist being manipulated! You MUST train yourself to be consistent no matter how cute or demanding your pooch is. You are the Top Dog.
Train yourself to get in the habit of repeating rewards of small healthful treats, affectionate petting, or toy play immediately after your dog exhibits the desired behavior. And make the training fun so your furry student will enjoy training sessions. Something else: you love your dog or you wouldn’t even be reading this post.
It’s only natural that you’d want to share your pizza ecstasy with your best buddy. But dog psychology is a little different from human psychology. Let’s explore that a little more.
Dog Psychology 101: How Dogs Think
Dogs’ ancestors survived through teamwork and strengthening pack relationships. This meant repeatedly sharing meals and engaging in activities together to reinforce the pack bond. Today you can enjoy mealtimes together without sharing specific foods. You can engage in such activities as brushing, taking walks, playing, sleeping, and providing emotional support to each other during times of crisis.
Modern canines have evolved to become very observant and communicative with their human companions, so you don’t need to resort to aggressive alpha methods of training. So, can dogs eat pepperoni? The pepperoni itself won’t be as meaningful to your fur pal as it is to you: no happy memories of family get-togethers, social outings, celebrations, and so on.
The Meaning of Sharing
Do dogs want to eat everything you eat? You know they think they want everything you eat. Can dogs eat pepperoni? Not exactly but sort of. You can offer safe meat alternatives such as homemade jerky. You can make a pooch-perfect red sauce to substitute for pizza sauce by pureeing a few edibles such as red bell peppers, carrots, strawberries, and beets.
To learn more, read our Happy Tails post on beets. You can enjoy any of these same foods alongside your own pizza. Smelling them on your breath will make your dog happy because you’re both eating the same thing.
What Is the Natural Canine Diet?
In the days before dogs separated from their wolflike ancestors — the days before partnering with humans — their natural diet was very different from the way it is now. Depending on the season and location, individuals caught and ate a wide variety of small animals including rabbits, beavers, rats and other rodents, birds, reptiles, fish, eggs, insects, and earthworms. They also ate carrion.
When the pack hunted together, they brought down any available larger game. In addition to the muscle flesh, most organs were consumed as well as stomachs and stomach contents. The offal, along with fecal material, provided extra nutrition. Bones were always part of the meal. Our dogs’ ancestors also ate herbs, vegetables, grasses, and fruits such as blueberries, apples, and pears.
When pups were weaning off their mother’s milk, their first solid food consisted of what she regurgitated from her own stomach. Foraging for food was an ongoing job. The pack members burned a lot of calories searching for food, sometimes not eating for days. You wanted to know “Can dogs eat pepperoni?” Wolves didn’t.
What Foods Are Best for Dogs?
In light of revelations about processed pet foods, many pet lovers are turning to natural diets. One is called “BARF:” Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It recommends a balanced formula of fresh, clean ingredients sourced from animals and plants that meet each pet’s known nutritional needs.
There is no “one size fits all” dog food recipe: puppies, pregnant and nursing females, older dogs, underweight or overweight individuals, and the presence of certain medical conditions mean that a specialized nutritional balance is necessary. Remember to introduce any new food to your pet slowly to prevent digestive upsets. Buy fresh, organic ingredients from local sources.
A note about raw bones: in the wild, canines and other carnivores gain many nutrients from eating the bones of prey. We’ve been taught from childhood that bones are dangerous for dogs. The fact is that COOKED bones are very dangerous because they’re brittle and prone to splinter. Raw bones, especially the bones of young animals, offer many benefits:
- Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous
- Amino acids and protein
- Fatty acids
- Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E
- Blood-forming minerals in the marrow including iron and copper
- Prevention of plaque formation and tooth decay
- Emotional enrichment by satisfying the natural instinct to chew
When you provide a BARF-type diet the right way, you’ll notice that your buddy will have more energy and feel more satisfied because proper nourishment affects every organ system. Now you know the answer to your question, “Can dogs eat pepperoni?”
See our post on Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken Bones!
FAQ — Frequently Asked Questions
Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni Made With Turkey?
Dogs can safely eat very small amounts of turkey pepperoni occasionally, just like traditional pepperoni, but it is bad for them. Although turkey pepperoni contains less fat, it contains much more sodium. The type of meat won’t matter, but the amount of salt, sugar, fat, spices, preservatives and artificial colors will. Therefore, baloney, hot dogs, salami, and even homemade sausage are all bad for dogs.
What Is The Difference Between Cured And Processed Meat?
Cured meats have been fermented to prevent spoilage and preserve nutrients. You might be familiar with other fermented foods such as cheese, wine, sauerkraut, tea, chocolate, sourdough bread, kombucha, and miso. Pickling is another method of preservation using brine, or saltwater.
On the other hand, industrial processing involves the speedy addition of chemicals to extend the shelf life of the product, make its appearance more appealing to customers, alter its texture, and add to its bulk.
Can Dogs See The Red Color Of Pepperoni And Pizza Sauce?
Canine vision is different from ours in several ways. Red appears as dark brown or dark gray to them. In terms of color, the world to them appears in hues of blue and yellow. However, they have sharper vision in dim light than humans do, they notice motion more quickly, and they have wider peripheral vision. They rely much more on their sense of smell to identify things including pepperoni and pizza sauce.
What’s The Difference Between Cannelloni And Cannoli?
Originating in Sicily, cannoli are tubular shells of deep-fried pastry dough filled with a mixture of ricotta or mascarpone cheese, sugar, marsala wine, and sometimes orange or lemon zest, then dusted with powdered sugar.
Canneloni are thick lasagna pasta tubes stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, covered in tomato sauce, and baked. Can your dogs have them? Sure, if you substitute dog-friendly ingredients to make “canine-elloni” and “canine-oli.”
Recipes for Dogs
Can dogs eat pepperoni? They won’t need to with these healthy and mouth-watering recipes!
Pupizza! Homemade Pizza Treats for Your Dog
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 medium organic sweet potato, slightly cooked and chopped.
- 1 medium organic red bell pepper
- 1-1/2 cup organic cauliflower
- 1/4 cup organic spinach
- 1 organic chicken breast
- 1 egg from a free-range source
- 1 tsp organic canola Oil
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Bake chicken breast, then shred and set aside.
- Increase heat to 400F.
- Combine oats, egg, canola oil, and sweet potato, then blenderize or use food processor.
- Roll sweet potato dough in a round shape 1/2 – 1/4 inch thick On parchment paper.
- Bake 15-20 minutes.
- Chop and blenderize red bell pepper until smooth to make pizza sauce. Drain excess water and set aside.
- Blenderize cauliflower to make “grated cheese.”
- Microwave cauliflower for 5 minutes and set aside.
- Do the same with the spinach.
- Remove baked dough from oven, then create pizza with the red bell pepper sauce, cauliflower, spinach topping, and then chicken.
- Bake another 15-20 minutes until edges are browned and cooked through.
- Cool the pizza and serve!
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 slices
Humans only: If desired, add salt, pepper, and garlic for a delicious and healthy pizza!
Check out our Happy Tails post on Peppers For Pooches.
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- 1 cup coconut or rice flour or other flour
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 egg
- 1 cup fresh unsalted chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Coat a deep-dish pan with high-temperature cooking oil, butter, or lard.
- Whisk or beat flour, basil, parsley, and oregano in a large bowl until incorporated.
- Whisk egg in a separate bowl with chicken broth.
- Make a small well in the center of the dry mix, slowly pour in wet ingredients, and combine.
- Flour the top and roll out dough with a rolling pin or your hands until flat, smooth, and round.
- Transfer to the pizza pan, pressing the dough down around the sides by hand.
- Top with unprocessed meats, low-fat cheeses, vegetables, pup treats, mashed sweet potato, or whatever else fits your pooch’s “person(dog)ality”.
- Only use fresh ingredients that are safe for dogs to eat.
- Bake 30 minutes or until crust and cheese are browned.
- Cool completely.
- Cut into slices and serve.
- Time it so you can eat together!
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Homemade Dog JERKY ~ Yummm!
- Grind meats.
- Mix a few teaspoons of spice or spices per pound of ground meat with 2 tablespoons water.
- Mix into the meat with hands.
- Flatten meat mixture by hand or with rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick.
- Score into strips with knife or pizza cutter.
- Use a dull knife to transport jerky strips to wire rack on top of baking sheet or to dehydrator trays.
Oven: If your first time making jerky, use oven. Preheat to 180-200F.
Arrange strips on rack on top of a baking sheet or pan. Line sheet with foil for easier clean-up.
Placing tray in oven, prop oven door open with wooden spoon so moisture will escape during drying.
Dehydrator: Place jerky strips on trays.
Turn on high, around 160F.
Dry 3-5 hours.
- JERKY NOTES: Dry jerky till strips bend and crack but don’t break when bent.
- Cool for 5 minutes.
- Test again by bending. If still moist, keep dehydrating.
- When dry, use scissors to cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Store in refrigerator.
- To store longer, use a vacuum sealer to keep in the freezer for several months.
- Safe for humans but bland-tasting.
- Poultry meat ok to use but safer when dried in oven. Internal temperature should reach at least 165F.
Benefits Of Spices:
- Cinnamon contains antioxidants; aids in regulating blood sugar; helps correct bad breath.
- Turmeric is beneficial for general health, aiding in heat, joint, and brain function; may help with weight loss.
- Ginger is good for the digestive system; eases nausea.
Can dogs eat pepperoni? To recap, pepperoni is one of several human edibles that is better substituted with canine-compatible foods. Pepperoni isn’t even good for people! By training your furry pal to wait respectfully instead of hounding you, you can strengthen the bond between you when by offering a healthful treat. Establishing and maintaining a relationship built on trust will help give you both many years to share together.
Other Posts Of Interest
Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken? Bone Up On The Real Story!
Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken Bones? Why They Should!
Can Dogs Eat Olives? Best Olives For Dogs & Medicinal Uses
Can Dogs Eat Bell Peppers? Find Out WHICH Ones
How the minds of dogs are similar to and different from wolves and humans:
Basics of canine nutritional needs:
More about cured vs. processed foods: