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Can Dogs Eat Pastrami? Vet Reviewed Dietary Guidance


Jun 16, 2023
Pastrami Sliced On Cutting Board


Pastrami Sliced On Cutting Board
Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As dog owners, we know that we need to be careful when giving our dogs little treats from our plates. Giving human foods to dogs can be risky because not everything that we enjoy eating is safe for them.

If eating a pastrami sandwich causes your dog to look at you with soulful eyes, you might wonder, “is pastrami safe for dogs?”

Pastrami is NOT safe for dogs to eat because it’s filled with ingredients that can be harmful to dogs in fairly low amounts. If your dog just ate a few small pieces, they’ll likely be fine, but you do not want to give pastrami to your dog on a regular basis.

Here, we take an in-depth look at why pastrami isn’t good for dogs and what you should do if your dog gets into any.


What Makes Pastrami Unsafe for Dogs?

Pastrami is a cold cut/deli meat made of beef soaked in brine and rubbed with salt, garlic, sugar, and spices. It is then dry-cured, smoked, and cooked by steaming or boiling.

Let’s break down the ingredients in pastrami and what makes it toxic to dogs.

Image Credit: Anna_Pustynnikova, Shutterstock


Pastrami is brined in a saltwater solution, which causes the salt to be drawn into the meat, essentially saturating it with salt. Then, it’s rubbed with salt, so the salt content is quite high.

A small amount of salt in a dog’s diet is necessary, but too much can lead to dehydration or salt toxicity. This can cause gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting and diarrhea, and, in larger amounts, can even be fatal, particularly in small dogs.

If your dog already has a health condition, such as heart disease, kidney disease, or hypertension, they really need to be kept away from salty goodies.

Garlic and Onions

Garlic, onions, and leeks are highly toxic to dogs and can lead to gastrointestinal upset and damaged red blood cells when too much is ingested. Dogs need to eat a fair amount of garlic or onions to suffer from severe toxicity, however. The amount in a few slices of pastrami isn’t likely to be enough to be harmful to your dog, but eating a large amount in one sitting or eating it regularly can be problematic.


Pastrami contains high levels of fat, which can be difficult for dogs to digest. It can cause gastrointestinal upset, but more worryingly, a diet high in fat can also lead to pancreatitis. This inflammation of the pancreas, which results in a lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and vomiting, can even be fatal.

If a dog is given food like pastrami regularly, even in small amounts, pancreatitis might be the result, as well as obesity.

a black dog vomiting outside
Image Credit: Mumemories, Shutterstock


A certain number of preservatives are used in the manufacturing of dog food, but the kind of preservatives in meats like pastrami are not suitable for dogs. For example, sodium nitrite and propyl gallate are typically in pastrami, hotdogs, and sausages. Preservatives eaten regularly can lead to skin and coat issues and gastrointestinal problems.

All these ingredients—salt, fat, garlic, and preservatives—can negatively impact your dog’s digestive system and cause serious medical conditions. That’s why you should always stick to dog food and treats made for dogs.

If you have the urge to give them human food, look it up or speak to your vet first. You never know if there’s an ingredient that might make your dog sick.



What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Pastrami?

If your dog ate a small amount, they will likely be fine, but keep an eye on them over the next 24 hours or so. If they show signs of stomach upset, call your vet and ask for advice. This goes for any food or item that your dog consumes that isn’t meant for dogs. Always speak to your vet if you’re ever concerned or in doubt.

If your dog eats a large amount of pastrami, bring them in to see your vet, just to be on the safe side. If they have eaten it recently, your vet may induce vomiting to minimize the risks of pancreatitis or other effects, or they may start them on fluid therapy and gastroprotectants to support the body as it processes this hazardous meal.

woman making a phone call
Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

What Other Foods Are Toxic to Dogs?

The worst foods that you can give your dog are as follows:

  • Alcohol: Giving a dog alcohol can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
  • Avocados: Avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and other potential health issues.
  • Cooked bones: Cooked bones become dried out and easily splinter, which can cause damage to the dog’s mouth, throat, and digestive system.
  • Grapes and raisins: Grapes and raisins are especially toxic because even a small number can lead to kidney failure, the effects of which may not emerge until years later.
  • Macadamia nuts: Dogs can experience hyperthermia and tremors after consuming these nuts.
  • Xylitol: This is used as a sugar substitute in gum, baked goods, toothpaste, and candy. Dogs may suffer from liver failure and low blood sugar after consumption.

What Are Signs That My Dog Ate Too Much Pastrami?

If your dog consumed too much pastrami and if you observe any of these signs, see your veterinarian:

  • General weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive thirst
  • Drooling
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
excessive drooling of irish setter dog
Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock



Pastrami has multiple ingredients that at a minimum can cause your dog to feel unwell but can also lead to serious health conditions. While eating a small amount of this meat will likely be okay (unless your dog already has a medical condition), regularly giving pastrami to them is a bad idea.  When you take into account that pastrami is heavily salted and has high contents of fat, unhealthy preservatives, and toxic garlic, it just isn’t worth it.

Always speak to your veterinarian if you need help with your dog’s diet, particularly if you want to add something new. Keeping your dog in top health should be your priority!

Featured Image Credit: mattburchell, Shutterstock

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