Sweet, ruby-red Salame di Felino from Italy, known as the "King of Salamis"and spicy pepperoni, a hot American salami, are mouth-watering accompaniments to pecorino and other delectable cheeses on your charcuterie board.
A 2020 meme suggested that "cats can have a little salami, as a treat." But what about dogs?
Unfortunately, salami doesn't belong on your dog's plate, even as an occasional treat.
Where does salami come from?
Salami or salame (Italian) is a generic term that describes any type of encased pork meat product that is prepared, fermented, and dried. This curing process is similar to aging cheese. Thus, salami is not actually raw, but it's not cooked either, except some specific varieties. Derived from the Latin "salumen" which describes a mix of salted meats, salami originated in Italy and boasts a rich history of thousands of years, even pre-dating ancient Rome.
Regional variations and preparation techniques over the centuries have created a great variety of salami sausages:
- Salame di Felino is aged for three months and known for its uneven shape
- Salame Finocchiona is noted for its fennel seeds
- Salame Napoletana contains spicy peperoncino and is dry-aged for six months
- Soppressata di Calabria is made from the head of the pig and aged for 40 days
- Salamini Italiani alla Cacciatora is a little salami no bigger than eight inches and weighs less than twelve ounces
- Pepperoni is an American version of salami often made with pork and beef
- Capocollo/Capicola is made with the pig's neck and head and is smoked and may contain wine
- Genoa salami is traditionally made of pork and veal meat, seasoned with garlic, pepper, and red wine
- Salame lardo is made with the fatty back of the pig and seasoned with rosemary
- Pancetta is made with pork belly and seasoned with herbs and spices
- Prosciutto is a type of salami made with cured pork ham and is seasoned pre-cooking
No matter which type of salami you choose, they all feature the characteristic white blobs of pork fat amidst the red, ground pork meat with additions of salt, pepper, garlic, wine, mace, fennel and sometimes cinnamon, depending on which salami it is.
Can dogs eat salami?
Some people feed anything to their dog in the name of treats. But indiscriminate food choices, such as salami, can add up to gastrointestinal problems, and the habit of giving inappropriate treats can be a slippery slope where a sliver of fried chicken turns into a whole piece and a slice of salami turns into a couple or more.
Salami is not actually toxic to dogs, but it does contain ingredients that do not promote optimal health in anyone, people or dogs. However, for people who eat salami as an appetizer only now and then it's not a big deal, but for dogs, the wise choice for pet parents is to avoid feeding salami to your dog, even occasionally.
What are the concerns with feeding salami to dogs?
Salami is packed with all kinds of things that are not good for your dog, like copious amounts of salt and fat, spices like garlic that are toxic to dogs, and flavorings such as wine. Further, salami is cured, not cooked, which can also pose risks for your dog.
Salt and fat
Over-consumption of salt or fat puts your dog at risk for salt poisoning, kidney damage, or pancreatitis, says Rover, the largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers.
Garlic and spices
Often, salami contains garlic, a member of the Allium family that includes onions, chives, and leeks; all toxic to dogs. Japanese breeds of dogs such as akita and shiba inu are more susceptible to garlic toxicity, and, of course, smaller dogs are more vulnerable to garlic than larger dogs. For example, if your dog were to manage to steal a plate of salami from the table and eat enough of it, it can cause damage to the red blood cells leading to anemia. Also, toxic doses of garlic cause nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, explains Pet Poison Helpline. Importantly, signs of garlic poisoning are often delayed and clinical signs of toxicosis do not develop for several days. If you suspect your dog may have eaten more than a little bit of salami, call the Pet Poison Helpline 24/7, 365 days at (855)764-7661.
On the other hand, a salami like Napoletana contains spicy pepperoncini that could easily upset your dog's stomach and burn her mouth.
Alcohol should never be fed to dogs, whether it be a sip of beer or a slice of wine-infused salami.
Cured meat could be the culprit in a parasitic disease known as trichinellosis, which is caused by eating raw or undercooked meat of animals such as domestic pigs or wild boar (salami is traditionally made with pork) that is infected with the larvae of a species of worm called trichinella. Since salami is produced through a curing, or salting process, and is made from pork, it can potentially cause infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that curing, drying, smoking, or microwaving meat does not consistently kill infective worms resulting in trichinellosis, and states further that in recent years, many cases of trichinellosis were reported to the CDC caused from homemade jerky and sausages like salami.
If your dog were to eat infected salami and contract trichinellosis, the disease can be spread to humans.
Dogs should not eat salami due to its high salt and fat content. In addition, many of the spices and flavorings in various types of salami such as garlic or wine, can be toxic. Therefore, salami, even as an occasional treat, does not promote optimal health in your dog and should be avoided.
If your dog gets his teeth into a party platter that contains salami and exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms of garlic toxicity, call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855)764-7661.
For more information, check out our list of everything dogs can and cannot eat!
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.