Can Cats Eat Hot Dogs? Is It Safe for Feline Consumption?

Last updated
Updated by
Medically reviewed by
Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Can cats eat hot dogs? Technically, a cat can eat hot dogs. As a cat parent, the question you should be asking yourself is – should I be giving hot dogs to my cat?

Let me explain.

While hot dogs may seem like harmless meat sticks, they are highly processed and have additives that your cat’s digestive system can’t handle.

Many of us will slip our cat a tasty morsel of what we’re eating. I’ve seen many cat parents conclude that as long as food is safe for humans, it’s safe for their cats.

As a cat parent, I can confirm that that isn’t always true — especially when feeding your cat hot dogs.

Keep reading to learn:

Can A Cat Eat Hot Dogs: What’s In a Hot Dog?

Hot dogs primarily consist of a base protein like pork, beef, turkey, or poultry.

Here is a table summarizing the nutrient in a hot dog.

NutrientAmount per 100 grams
Carbohydrates24.3 grams
Fat18.6 grams
Protein11.4 grams
Sugar4 grams
Sodium810 milligram
Fiber0.8 grams

While a hot dog has meat, its ingredients aren’t suitable for your cat, which begs the question:

What’s In a Hot Dog That’s Bad For Your Cat

Cats require animal-based protein to survive and thrive — and hot dogs are majorly meat. However, they don’t meet the cut for your cat for containing:

Processed Meat

No question. Your cat is a carnivore and has historically been preying on small animals like rats, mice, and rodents. This can leave you wondering:

Why aren’t hot dogs healthy for your cat’s consumption?

Wild meat that cats consume is so different from hot dogs’ meat. While a hot dog can look like ordinary meat, its additives can threaten your cat’s health. 

The product consists of processed meat. Manufacturers add different chemicals like salts, nitrate, nitrites, and preservatives during processing to make it more appealing to humans but unsafe for your cat.

Too Much Sodium

One of the hot dog’s ingredients that makes it unsafe for your cat is too much salt. Salt contains sodium which is detrimental to your cat in large quantities.

The side effect of sodium in small quantities is dehydration, which you can quickly reverse by giving your cat water. 

However, as in hot dogs, too much salt can induce sodium toxicity, also known as hypernatremia.

Some signs and symptoms of hypernatremia include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Chronic thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Tremor and seizures
  • Incoordination and confusion

Nitrates and Nitrites

Manufacturers add nitrate and nitrite to a hot dog to give it a pleasant red or pink meat-like appearance. These additives also prevent harmful bacteria from invading the hot dog to increase its shelf life.

While humans can handle these nitrate and nitrites better, your cat’s digestive tract cannot process them, exposing it to digestive tract issues.

Toppings and Flavoring

Hot dogs have seasonings such as onions and garlic to appeal to human taste buds. Many people add toppings like tomato ketchup and mustard to enhance the taste.

All the toppings and flavorings make hot dogs more unhealthy and fatal to your cats. 

Onion and garlic are outright toxic to cats. They can damage your cat’s red blood cells to cause anemia.

Mustard seeds, on the other end, will cause gastrointestinal issues in cats.

Too High Fat Content

Although cats need some fats to stay healthy, the fat content in hot dogs is too high for your cat to digest. 

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of a typical hot dog contain:

  • 18.6 grams of fat
  • 11.4 grams of protein

Hot dogs offer your cat more fats than proteins when it should be the opposite. Your cat’s ideal meat should be 25% protein and 10% fat by weight. A hot dog goes overboard with fat while offering small protein amounts.

The high-fat content can induce health effects, such as:

  • Indigestion
  • Increased risk of heart problems
  • Obesity

What Are The Health Risks of Feeding Your Cat Hot Dogs

Feeding your cat hot dogs pose several health risks, such as:

Nutritional Imbalance: 

Cats are carnivores and should primarily feed on meat. Hot dogs typically contain a mix of low-quality meats, fillers, and additives that do not meet your cat’s nutritional needs. 

Feeding hot dogs to your cat regularly can lead to nutrient deficiencies while filling it with empty calories.

Sodium Toxicity

Hot dogs are usually high in sodium (from salt). Cats have a low tolerance to sodium, and excessive intake can cause:

  • Dehydration
  • Restlessness
  • Kidney problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Vomiting
  • Cardiovascular issues

Gastrointestinal upset

A cat’s digestive system is sensitive and only excellent at processing animal-based protein.

When you feed your cat with a product full of fats, carbohydrates, empty sugar, and ingredients it can’t digest, it can develop bowel issues such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pains


The fatty nature of hot dogs can strain the pancreas, induce inflammation, and cause pancreatitis. The disorder can cause complications such as:

  • Release of digestive enzymes into the surrounding tissues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrheas
  • Weight loss

What Should You Do If Your Cat Accidentally Ate A Hot Dog?

If your cat accidentally ate a small amount of plain, cooked hot dog without seasoning or condiments, it’s unlikely to cause severe harm. You should only monitor it for signs like:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite

In most cases, your cat will return to normalcy after the hot dog is off its system. 

However, if your cat ate too many hot dogs and is showing concerning symptoms, take the following measures:

  1. Contact your vet to provide specific advice based on your cat’s health history and the amount of hot dogs it ate.
  2. Monitor your cat’s behavior, appetite, and litter box habit. Check for signs of diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, and unusual symptoms. Consult your vet about what you observe.
  3. Provide plenty of water to your cat to keep it hydrated, flush out any potential toxins, and help its digestive system.

Be cautious in the future. Keep human food out of your cat’s reach to prevent similar incidents.

What Makes A Meat Safe For Your Cat?

Your cat has an active immune system that is only excellent at processing wild meat. In fact, a cat’s immunity is resistant enough to bacteria and other diseases in raw meat. 

The meat your cat’s digestive system can handle differs from the processed meat in a hot dog, begging the question:

What qualifies meat as safe for your cat?

Lean and Low Fat Content

Your cat can’t get much nutrition from the excess fats and cabs — most of them pass straight through. If it is a question of calories, your cat can extract them from animal proteins.

Lean meats are better than fatty cuts or processed meat for your cat because they are:

  • Easily digestible
  • Reduce the risks of pancreatitis
  • Help in weight management
  • Reduce the risk of health issues like heart diseases

Low Concentration of Sodium

Excess salt in your cat’s diet can result in dehydration and sodium toxicity. The toxicity can happen with as little as one gram of salt (less than a teaspoon).

Even when you go for lean meat treats, watch the amount of table salt your add to your cat.

Unseasoned and Unprocessed

Your cat evolutionarily thrives well on plain meat — without any seasoning, sauce, or additives. Many seasonings and condiments in human foods are highly toxic to your feline companion. 

Ingredients like onions, garlic, chive, salt, and artificial sweetener are poisonous to your cat and can lead to health issues, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Bowel upset
  • Organ damage

Safe meat for your cat doesn’t have preservatives, either.

What Meats Can You Safely Share With Your Cat?

After establishing that hot dogs aren’t safe for your cats, you might wonder:

What meats can I safely share with my cat?

There are plenty of meat you prepare at home that you can share with your cat, including:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Duck 
  • Heart
  • Liver

While most meats are safe to add to your cat’s diet, their suitability will stem from how you prepare them. For instance:

  1.  Avoid seasoning to prevent health complications.
  2. Your cat will not have nutritional issues with raw meat. However, research proves that uncooked meat can cause health problems from bacteria like Salmonella and E.Coli.
  3. Although your cat would chew bone of prey in the wild, you should avoid giving cooked bones to your cat. Cooked bones break into thin sharp fragments and can cause a choking hazard or cause internal organ injuries.

Can Cats Eat Hot Dogs: A Final Thought

While it’s fun to give treats to your cat, a hot dog shouldn’t be an option. The product has additives, preservatives, and flavorings that can be toxic to your cat.

You can consider alternative treats such as lean meat from chicken or turkey, hard cheeses, scrambled eggs, or steak.


What happens if cats eat hot dogs?

If a cat eats a hot dog, it is likely to experience gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, hot dogs can also cause more serious problems, such as pancreatitis or blockages in the digestive tract.
The high-fat content, sodium, and additives in hot dogs will irritate the delicate digestive system of your cat. While small, accidental ingestion may not cause immediate harm, regularly feeding hot dogs to your cat can lead to significant health problems.

Can cats eat uncooked hot dogs?

Technically, yes. A cat can eat uncooked hot dogs if given a chance. However, raw hot dogs aren’t a healthy option for your cat because of the following:
1. Possibility of bacteria on contaminant ingestion, such as Salmonella or E. coli
2. Digestive upset because your cat’s digestive system has a problem processing a high-fat diet
3. Potential choking hazard as uncooked hot dogs can be rubbery and difficult to chew
4. Risk of parasites as raw meat may harbor parasites

Can hot dogs kill cats?

Stealing a small amount of hot dogs won’t kill your cat. However, you can expect it to get sick and develop bowel issues.
On the other hand, feeding large quantities of hot dogs to your cat as part of their diet can pose serious health risks and potentially even be life-threatening.

What human food can cats eat?

There are some human foods that are safe for your cat to eat as occasional treats, including: cooked lean meats, cooked fish, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, bananas, and Spinach.

About Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin. I get excited about all things cat related. I love my two cats - Dom and Kitty. When I'm not playing with my two feline friends, you can probably find me hiking. And yes, I have a 9 to 5 job. Although if you asked me I'd rather spend my time blogging and educating other cat moms and dads about what it takes to raise a healthy cat.

Get a 30% Discount!

We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with, offering an unbeatable deal on high-quality cat food to our dedicated readers.

Get 30% OFF

Leave a Comment