Can Cats Have Hot Dogs? – The 1 Important Fact

Can Cats Have Hot Dogs

Most of us love the smell of hot dogs cooking, especially when they are being barbequed. Our cats will come running as they love the smell too but can cats have hot dogs?

The simple number one fact is: hot dogs can be toxic to cats due to processed meat and addatives. It is highly recommended that you not feed hot dogs to your cats. If you want to feed them what you eat, it’s better to give them high quality unprocessed meat and fish.

The processing of hot dogs is not the only reason that cats shouldn’t be fed hot dogs. Generally hot dogs are made of by-products, which are a much lower quality, and they also have other ingredients in them that are harmful to cats.

Can cats Have Hot Dogs? – It depends what’s in them:

Hot dogs are not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of food. There are several different types, which mean it can be hard to tell exactly what is in them.


There are two types of casings when it comes to hot dogs: skinless and natural. Skinless hotdogs, which covers the majority of them these days, have a cellulose casing on them for the cooking process, but it is removed before packaging and sale to the consumer.

The natural casing hot dogs typically have a lamb or pig intestine on them for the cooking process, and it’s left on afterwards and packaged this way for the consumer. The intestines are cleaned, and while they are not toxic to cats, they also offer no benefits in this form. Often times you can tell it’s a natural casing if your hot dog has a bit of a snap to it.


Hot dogs come in four main types: Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey. The beef meat is leftovers that have been trimmed off from steaks and roasts. Pork is much the same, it’s leftovers from chops and tenderloins. For the poultry, it is meat trimmed off from larger whole cuts, or taken from the bone

While the meat itself is not bad for your cat, the issue is the quality of meat used. Hot dogs are not using the best portions, the higher quality meats go to the better cuts. Hot dogs get the unwanted pieces, so they have less nutritional value than quality meats.


Obviously, the water is not an issue for cats, but it is an ingredient in the making of hot dogs and is used to blend and mix the meat and spices. Hot dogs contain less than 10% of water.

Curing Agent

Sodium nitrate and celery powder are two main curing agents. Sodium nitrate is responsible for the pink color, and taste of hot dogs. In addition, it makes hot dogs safer as it inhibits bacteria growt

Celery powder is a natural form of sodium nitrate, and the use of it will cause the labels to say “uncured”, as the USDA does not recognize it as a curing agent. Celery powder is safe for your cat in small amounts.


There are three main antioxidants used in hot dogs: Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Erythorbate, and Cherry Powder. The antioxidant reacts with the nitrates and speeds up the curing process

While they may safe for human consumption, any type of chemical or lab created ingredient is not something you want to be feeding your cat. There is no nutritional value to them and no need for cats to consume them.


Spices are the last part that make up hot dogs, and this is where it can get really toxic for your cat. Many hot dogs use onion and garlic powders, both of which can be toxic to cats. Other spices that are sometimes used, and can also be toxic are;

  • Pepper
  • Coriander
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Nutmeg
  • Paprika
  • Allspice

How Spices Are Toxic to Cats

The most dangerous spices for cats belong to the allium family and contain thiosulphate. These are onions, garlic, shallots, chives, and other such foods. The thiosulphate attacks and destroys the red blood cells in cats, even in small doses.

The destruction of the red blood cells leads to a condition called hemolytic anemia and can be a devastating condition for your cat, leading to death.

Cats generally won’t search out foods from the allium family, but they can come across them inadvertently through other foods you eat, even in items such as broths and sauces.

The Best Meats for Cats

If you do want to serve your cat some meat some options are better than others. And when it comes to raw vs. cooked, there are different opinions on the topic and we’re not qualified enough to give you a definitive answer on that one.

Chicken and turkey are the best sources protein for your cats as they have the least amount of fat. Duck is good as well, but it is fattier than chicken and turkey.

If feeding your cat beef, ground beef is best as it’s easier for the cat to chew and digest. Beef organs are also safe for cats but should not make up the majority of their diet.

Pork is safe for cats however ham and bacon should be avoided due to the high sodium content in them from the preparation.

Lamb and veal are a little pricier but are safe for cats. Lamb is a fatty meat so it should only be fed to your cat in small doses.

Most fish are safe for cats in small amounts. Smaller fish are safer for cats as they contain less mercury in their skin then larger fish such as tuna and salmon. Canned fish should be fed sparingly as it generally has a higher sodium content.


Our cats are part of our family and we want to spoil them as much as possible. Sometimes spoiling them means offering them little treats here and there and that is perfectly fine. Just keep some of this information in mind when offering your cat human food. The last thing you want to do is give them something that could harm them. So no hot dogs for your cat at the barbeque this summer.

See also: Can Cats Eat Cake?

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