Can Dogs Eat Bacon Grease?

Photo by Matt Baume on Flickr

Dogs can eat bacon grease; however, their intake should be closely monitored and moderated.

There are some good reasons you may want to consider giving your dog bacon grease, including:

  • Providing a Treat: People love their dogs for being nature’s truest companion, so it is natural that you would want to reward their loyalty with something they love.
  • Make Their Coats Shinier: Fats in your dog’s diet can help make and keep their coat shiny. This is because dietary fats provide the necessary vitamins for cell, nerve, and muscle health found only in fat-soluble forms.
  • Good Energy Source for Active Dogs: Fats are a fantastic source of energy for dogs. They can provide up to 2.5 times more energy than proteins or carbohydrates.
  • Getting a Scared Dog to Eat: If you have a dog who is nervous or frightened, either because it is new to your home or a rescue animal, the smell of bacon grease might be enough to entice them into eating their food.

However, it seems the cons may outweigh the pros when it comes to feeding a dog bacon grease.

Bacon grease has very little nutritional value and can lead to adverse conditions in your dog like weight gain, upset stomachs, dehydration, pancreatitis, and in the worst-case scenarios, death.

In all, the detrimental effects of feeding a dog bacon grease seem to outweigh the benefits, so it is best not to allow them to have this type of fat supplement regularly.

However, if you have a nervous or frightened pet that needs some extra encouragement and can handle greasy foods in moderation, then once in a while should be okay.

Be sure they are hydrated, and their gastrointestinal system can tolerate the high levels of fat, though.

How Nutritious is Bacon Grease?

Let’s start with the obvious: Bacon grease is very high in fat.

100 grams of bacon grease is essentially 100 grams of fat- which for humans is 128% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance).

An adult human is physically bigger than a dog and so it will be an even bigger overdose for a dog

It also contains 39 grams of saturated fat, which is 195% of the RDA.

While science has learned that there are “heart-healthy” varieties of fats, you would be hard-pressed to consider levels like these nutritious.

Bacon grease also contains 32% of the cholesterol RDA, which is concerning.

While science is finding that dietary cholesterol does not have the same impact on blood cholesterol as previously thought, these levels should still be considered problematic.

Bacon grease is not totally without nutritional value, however.

It does contain 12% of the RDA of Vitamin D, which is considered an essential nutrient for dogs.

But overall, the consensus is that bacon grease has very little to offer dogs in the way of nutrition.

How Much Bacon Grease Should You Feed Your Dog?

If you choose to give your dog bacon grease, the prevailing wisdom is one teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight.

So a smaller breed, like a Chihuahua, should only be receiving a fraction of a teaspoon, whereas a larger breed could receive much more based on its weight.

Others recommend limiting bacon grease intake to as little as a teaspoon.

However, if your dog does not experience any adverse health effects from the bacon grease, you should feel free to feed them more according to their body weight and size.

In general, larger dogs can tolerate up to five teaspoons of bacon grease per day without adverse effects on digestion.

What Are the Side Effects of a Dog Eating too Much Fat?

The most obvious side effect is obesity.

In the case of bacon grease, which contains a whopping 195% of the RDA for saturated fats, this could happen very quickly and lead to health problems for your dog.

Another side effect would be pancreatitis- an inflammation of the pancreas resulting from excess fat consumption.

This condition is frequently fatal in dogs.

The symptoms of pancreatitis can mimic those of other conditions, making diagnosing them difficult for veterinarians and owners alike, adding to the problem. 

Dog pancreatitis can also lead to other side effects, such as diabetes and liver problems.

The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin for dogs (and humans), so if it becomes inflamed because of a high fat intake, this could cause a diabetic crisis in your dog.

Liver problems can also develop due to damage caused by excessive fat consumption. Bottom line, this is not a condition you want to see your dog have to deal with.

A third, less severe effect is diarrhea.

This can happen when excessive fats lead to bacterial overgrowth in the intestines and intestinal inflammation from increased gut permeability.

If this happens, then it is likely your dog will get diarrhea.

Finally, the sodium levels in bacon grease are problematic for dogs.

Because of their smaller size, dogs are more prone to salt-related ailments like dehydration and salt poisoning.

Cured meats such as ham or bacon are often preserved with sodium nitrate, which keeps them fresher longer, but this also means you must be careful not to overfeed these kinds of foods to your dog due to their extremely high amount of sodium content.

Will Adding Bacon Grease to a Dog’s Diet Improve Their Coat?

Yes, but at a cost.

Bacon grease contains essential fatty acids that help the skin retain moisture and, therefore, will make a dog’s coat softer or shinier.

However, dogs with a fatty liver are more susceptible to developing skin problems because the fats in bacon grease can’t be processed and appropriately metabolized.

A healthier source of essential fats would be coconut oil or supplements like omega-6 and omega 3.

Are Any Other Breakfast Foods Toxic for Dogs?

Yes. Other breakfast foods can be toxic for dogs, like milk.

When dogs are weaned from their mother’s milk, they stop producing the enzyme lactase, which breaks down sugars in milk.

When these undigested sugars make it to a dog’s intestines and colon, gas can form due to the fermentation of bacteria in the gut, which can result in flatulence and discomfort.

In more severe instances, it can also lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Anything containing grapes and raisins, such as muesli or grape jellies and jams, should be avoided altogether.

Although the exact substance that is toxic to dogs within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits are known to cause kidney failure in canines.

For their safety, it’s critical to avoid feeding your dog anything containing these substances.

How Nutritious Are Cooked Eggs for a Dog?

Eggs are an excellent protein source for your dog, with additional benefits like linoleic acid and fat-soluble vitamins to keep their coat strong and shiny.

Nutritionally, eggs are high in protein, providing 12 grams per serving, or 24% of the RDA.

Eggs contain 13 grams of fat, but only 3.6 grams of saturated fat, making them a healthier source of essential fats.

However, eggs contain 355 milligrams of cholesterol or 118% of the RDA, so be aware of that when giving your dog eggs.

Eggs are also rich in other nutrients dogs need, like vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.

Eggs are also rich in choline, which research indicates can improve cognitive brain function in dogs.

In moderation, eggs are safe for your dog as long as they don’t have any underlying health issues that could be worsened by eating eggs.

There is no need to avoid feeding these nutritious treats to your dog if the rest of their food contains all the necessary nutrients their bodies require.

Bacon Grease vs. Beef Fat: Which is Better for Your Dog?

If you decide to feed your dog excess fats of any kind, then it depends on what your dog prefers.

If you don’t know what your dog likes, try out both bacon grease and beef fat to see if they prefer one over the other. 

Both bacon grease and beef fat are high in saturated fats, which can cause pancreatitis.

Bacon grease has a higher concentration of polyunsaturated fats than beef fat does, so it might be better for dogs that have dry skin or need more fatty acids to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat.

A direct comparison of bacon grease and beef fat can shed some light on the main differences:

  • Total Fat: Both bacon grease and beef fat contain 100 grams of total fat; however, beef fat contains 50 grams of saturated fat, as opposed to 39 grams found in bacon grease.
  • Cholesterol: Bacon grease contains 95 milligrams of cholesterol, with beef fat coming in slightly higher at 109 milligrams.
  • Vitamin D: Bacon grease contains 12% of the RDA for vitamin D, while beef fat has only 4%.
  • Sodium: Beef fat has the edge here, with no sodium, whereas bacon grease contains 150 milligrams or 7% of the RDA.
  • Total Calories: Bacon grease contains 897 calories per 100-gram serving, while beef fat contains 902 calories per comparable serving. The difference between bacon grease and beef fat in terms of caloric intake is concerned is minuscule.

Neither option contains any additional nutritional value, like proteins, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, or potassium.

In a direct head-to-head comparison, it appears bacon grease slightly edges out beef fat as far as limited nutritional value.

However, the differences are so slight, and the overall nutritional value of both so low that it really comes down to your dog’s preference if you choose to give it to them.