One of the nine primal beef cuts, and among the least expensive ones, brisket is a preferred cut in the southern US. While previously considered a tough and lower quality cut, it has recently become one of the most popular cuts among BBQ pitmasters, backyard grill, and smoker enthusiasts.
If you love making low and slow-smoked brisket, you may wonder whether you can share some of this deliciousness with your dog.
Whether dogs can eat brisket is a complex topic without a straightforward answer. The answers are both yes and no. While the beef brisket itself is safe for pups, it has a so-called fat cap and a lot of connective tissue, making it high in fat and tough to chew and digest by dogs.
Plus, the dry or wet rubs and marinades used for seasoning the meat can often contain highly toxic ingredients to canines. Some include onions, garlic, onion or garlic powder, salt, spices, and others.
So, it is ok to treat your furry friend with a few small pieces of plain unseasoned brisket meat from time to time, but it should only be given as an occasional small treat rather than as a primary meal and protein source.
Read on to learn everything dog parents need to know about dogs and brisket.
Can Dogs Eat Brisket?
Yes, pups can eat some plain brisket meat safely.
But while most of the meat in the brisket is boneless, it is also rich in fats. Too much fat in your furbaby’s diet can lead to weight gain, obesity, and pancreas inflammation.
If you have ever handled or cooked brisket, you know how dense and tough the meat can be. This is because the cut comes from the lower chest of the animal and contains the well-worked muscles needed to support more than half the weight of the standing animal.
Even after hours of smoking or cooking it at low temperatures, parts of the brisket may still be difficult to chew and digest by some canines, especially smaller or senior dogs or young puppies.
Brisket – What Is It?
A primal beef or veal cut from the lower chest and breast, containing superficial and deep pectoral muscles, connective tissue, and a fat cap. Every animal has two briskets. The cut comprises of flat and point muscles and the fat cap.
It is usually prepared seasoned and low and slow-cooked or smoked at barbecues.
The brisket is the name of the primal cut, but it can refer to the cut from either beef or veal. Beef brisket is the more popular choice among grill masters in the USA.
Where Did Brisket Originate?
Often considered the national dish of Texas, beef brisket is especially popular there and in the other southern states. But today, it has been gaining popularity among BBQ enthusiasts and pros around the country.
How is Brisket Prepared?
According to the best-known pitmasters from Texas and the region, brisket is among the most unforgiving and tricky beef cuts to prepare and cook.
Usually, it is marinated and dry-rubbed with a mix of spices containing olive oil, salt, pepper, onion, and garlic. Whether you are smoking or slow cooking a whole or part of the brisket, it can take 4 to 12 or more hours to cook it to a point where it is tender and starts falling apart.
Different techniques are used for cooking this cut, including slathering, basting, and mopping, to keep the meat tender as the moisture evaporates.
How is Beef Brisket Served?
The brisket, once ready, can be sliced and served directly with a chosen sauce and sides. It is often served as pulled brisket in sandwiches or burgers.
There is also the nihari spicy curry made with brisket chunks, as well as corned beef, which is cured and brined beef brisket.
Is Brisket Suitable For Dogs?
When prepared traditionally, brisket is heavily seasoned with potentially harmful and dangerous ingredients for canines, such as garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and hot spices.
Here is why brisket is not considered a good meat option for dogs.
A high sodium content
Usually, the meat is rubbed and seasoned with very generous amounts of salt. While dogs can have some salt, too much sodium can lead to adverse side effects and, in severe cases, to sodium ion poisoning.
Here are the symptoms of sodium poisoning and the adverse effects in dogs from ingesting too much salt:
- Heart problems
- An increased blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Kidney disease
Black Pepper is Not Good for Canines
Another typical spice used for the rub or marinade when prepping the meat is black pepper, which is not toxic for pups but can cause mild to severe irritation to the animal’s nose and throat when consumed in larger quantities.
A lot of pepper can lead to the following side effects in canines:
- Continuous and uncontrollable sneezing
- Irritation of the throat, mouth, and rectum
- Digestive issues
- Abdominal discomfort and pain
Garlic, Onions, and Their Powdered Forms are Toxic to Canines
Garlic, onion, and other plants from the Allium family, like leeks, can be highly toxic to dogs. The reason is that they contain a toxin that can destroy the red blood cells of canines and can lead to anemia.
The side effects of eating too much garlic, onion, or garlic or onion powder in pups include:
- Stomach issues and pain
- Difficulty breathing and asthma
- Liver damage
Too Much Spice Can Burn the Pup’s Mouth and Throat
The spicy ingredients used for the rub, marinade, or sauce for the brisket can lead to the following adverse effects in dogs:
- Increased thirst and dehydration
- Burning of the mouth, nose, or throat
- Stomach discomfort and pain
Can I Give My Dog Plain Brisket?
While in some cases, the spices used for preparing and cooking the brisket are more dangerous than the meat itself, even bland brisket meat can pose a danger to dogs, especially when consumed in large amounts or regularly.
Here are the reasons why even bland brisket is not suitable for your furbaby.
This primal beef cut contains a lot of fat, which most dogs, especially older or less active ones, have trouble digesting and burning as an energy source.
Too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to the following undesired results:
- Lethargy and laziness
- Weight gain and obesity
- Cardiac issues
- Inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatitis
Brisket Meat is Tough and Chewy
It is one of the cuts with the toughest meat and muscles, which makes it hard for dogs to chew and digest properly. It is especially unsuitable for smaller or senior dogs, puppies, and for pups who are not used to eating tough meats and foods.
Some of the problems from eating tough meat like brisket can lead to the following in dogs:
- Obstruction (blockage) in the digestive tract
Sharp Bone Fragments in the Meat Can Injure the Dog
Even though the cut does not contain bones, it may contain some small bone fragments left over from the butchering process. These small but sharp bones can pose a risk to dogs, including:
- Cuts and injuries to the gums
- Esophagus damage
- Injury in the digestive tract
- Internal bleeding
Is Smoked Brisket A Safe Option for Dogs?
No, because it still contains a lot of salt and other harmful and even toxic ingredients such as garlic, onions, and red and black pepper.
To keep your furbaby safe, avoid feeding it any smoked meat seasoned with these ingredients or any sides that may contain them.
When Can Brisket Be Especially Bad for Pups?
As we mentioned already, brisket, even in plain form, is not the most suitable or safest protein for dogs.
But due to its high-fat content, it is especially harmful to obese, senior, or inactive canines.
When it has not been cooked properly, the meat can pose a choking or obstruction risk and can lead to digestive problems due to its toughness and chewiness.
Last but not least, even though it doesn’t officially contain bones, the brisket can still have some sharp leftover bone fragments, which can cause an injury to your furry friend’s mouth, esophagus, and digestive tract.
What About the Nutritional Value of Brisket?
It is a primal meat cut, and as such, is packed with proteins that are essential for dogs. It also contains vitamins B3, B6, and B12 and essential minerals such as iron, selenium, and zinc. All of these can be beneficial for the health of canines.
But unfortunately, the meat’s high-fat content, denseness, and toughness make it unsuitable for dogs. The much safer and healthier protein source for your furry friend is poultry or other dog-friendly meat and fish.
My Dog Ate Brisket – Now What?
If your pup somehow got its paws on a significant amount of brisket, you may want to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
You will need to tell the vet or the pet poison hotline operator your dog’s age and weight, the approximate amount of brisket eaten, and the spices in it. Also, be prepared to describe any symptoms which your pet is experiencing.
Brisket cured in salt can be dangerous to canines and lead to sodium poisoning.
Also, watch for symptoms such as abdominal pain and a stiff abdomen, which can mean that it has problems digesting this meat or even an obstruction.
In some cases, your veterinarian will ask you to take your furbaby to the clinic for a physical examination, tests, and eventual treatment.
In milder cases, they advise you to keep monitoring the dog and leave it on a plain diet until the symptoms disappear.
What Are Some of the Worrying Symptoms to Watch For
The meat can be challenging to chew and digest, and the salt and spices on the brisket can lead to stomach upsets.
Some worrying symptoms can occur if the dog has suffered from onion, garlic, sodium toxicity, or gastrointestinal tract obstruction.
Here are the symptoms of onion or garlic poisoning in dogs:
- Pale gums, nose, and eyes
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Red-colored urine
- Lethargy and weakness
- The common symptoms of sodium poisoning in canines include:
- Excessive urination
- Muscle spasms
- Increased body temperature, fever
- Seizures and convulsions
Treatment for Poisoning in Dogs Due to Eating Brisket
Do you suspect your furry companion has ingested a lot of brisket prepped with onions and garlic? In that case, you should call your veterinarian or an animal poison hotline immediately.
Onion or garlic toxicity in canines can lead to the destruction of the red blood cells and anemia.
The treatment for this type of poisoning should start as soon as possible after the ingestion.
Your vet will most probably examine the dog and run some blood work and urine tests. They will induce vomiting and give it activated charcoal to bind with and flush out the remaining undigested toxins from its body.
You may need to leave your pup at the clinic overnight for further observation, IV, and other medical treatment, depending on the severity of the poisoning and symptoms.
What Are Some Healthier and Safer Alternatives To Brisket For Dogs?
So, now that you know that the brisket is not the best meat and protein for your dog, you may be wondering what some of the safer and healthier alternatives are.
Here are the best protein sources for canines:
This inexpensive protein is easy to digest and safe to eat by dogs. It is a common ingredient in many dog foods and, when prepared properly, ground beef is suitable for a primary meal for your furbaby on a daily basis.
Properly cooked chicken is another excellent protein for pups. It is easy on its digestive system and loaded with the protein that your dog needs. But please make sure to cook the chicken to the recommended safe internal temperature and remove all bones before serving it to your four-legged companion.
This is another light and easy-to-digest protein source perfect for dogs. If possible, choose a natural-fed organic turkey for your pup and yourself.
Fish such as sardines, salmon, or cod are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and are high in protein. But make sure to debone and cook it before serving the fish to your dog.
It may look and seem gross, but organ meat is absolutely delicious for dogs and is high in nutrients. Plus, it is much less expensive than regular meat. But do keep in mind that some types of organ meat can be very fatty.
High-quality dog foods and treats
You can choose a good quality dog food as a primary food and protein source for your furbaby. High-quality dog foods are made with real meat and whole products and do not contain any harmful fillers or artificial ingredients.
Final Verdict – Can Dogs Eat Brisket?
Beef is perfectly safe for canines, but only the plain one without seasoning and excess fat. Since brisket is commonly prepared with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and other potentially dangerous spices and ingredients for dogs, it is not a good option for them. Plus, it is a highly fatty meat cut, which can lead to health problems with your pup.
So while rewarding your dog with a small bite of plain cooked brisket on special occasions can be safe, it is not recommended to be given in large amounts or on a regular basis as a main dish to canines.
In other words – avoid feeding your furbaby any brisket to stay on the safe side.
Which meat is bad for canines?
Any meat which is high in fat and has pointy bones is not suitable and can be dangerous for pups. Too much fat can lead to various health problems, and sharp bones can cause injuries to your pup’s mouth, esophagus, and gastrointestinal tract.
You should also avoid giving your pup any cured or processed meat high in salt content.
Which meat is the healthiest option for pups?
The best meat for dogs is one that has the most protein and the least amounts of fat. Some of the best protein sources for pups include chicken, turkey, beef, and some fish.
Always ensure the meat is cooked through, the sharp bones are removed, and no spices or salt is used when preparing the dog’s food.
Is BBQ meat safe for canines?
No, for the same reasons why brisket can be bad for dogs, so do many of the other meat cuts and foods prepared on the barbecue. The reason is the high fat and sodium content and charred parts that can lead to digestive upsets and even cancer in some pups.
Is brisket fat safe for dogs?
No. the fat cap or any other fat trimmings are very unhealthy for canines. Too much fat can lead to painful pancreatic inflammations and pancreatitis.
What about giving my dog pulled pork?
No, do not give your pup pulled pork because it is usually heavily salted and seasoned with harmful and dangerous spices and ingredients for canines.
What about treating my pup to some Polska kielbasa?
The Polish sausage has a very high-fat content, a low nutritional value, and contains a lot of sodium and cholesterol. So it is a definite no-no for pups.
How about rewarding my furbaby with smoked ham?
No. Smoked ham is very salty, as it has been cured in salt. So, do not give your pet any smoked ham or other cured or processed meat.