The Frank Truth: Hot Dogs and Gout Management

It’s thought that the original Frankfurter was invented in 1487 - that’s five years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the “New World”! During this 500-year history, the humble sausage has laid the groundwork for one of the world’s favourite treat foods - the hot dog.

Whether you’re looking for a quick and simple bite at the cinema or have your head turned by a gourmet iteration at a food festival, the humble hot dog is known and loved by us all. Yet, we must concede that it is far from the healthiest option. While we may be able to comfort ourselves with the idea of an “occasional treat”, what about those of us for whom diet is a little more unforgiving?

In short, are hot dogs bad for gout?

Processed foods, hot dogs, and gout

Individuals with gout will most likely be aware of how important diet can be in minimising the effects of the condition. As a form of inflammatory arthritis, gout is associated with severe pain and inflammation in the joints, most commonly the big toes. But what role does diet play in the development of these symptoms?

What role does diet play in gout?

Gout is caused by excess levels of uric acid in the blood. Over time, this leads to the formation of sharp uric acid crystals in the joint - the cause of the symptoms mentioned above. These symptoms appear sporadically in what is known as a gout attack or a flare-up. During a flare-up affected individuals may find it difficult to walk or even put any weight on the affected area.

Uric acid is a byproduct of a compound found in virtually every food product on the planet - purines. Found in the cell nuclei of every plant and animal, purines are impossible to avoid, and for the most part, that’s fine! Our bodies break them down into uric acid which is usually filtered effectively out of the body through our kidneys. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, leading to high uric acid levels and a higher risk of gout.

For this reason, most people with gout will be advised to eat low-purine foods - often called a “gout-friendly” diet. But diet isn’t the only risk factor associated with gout. Heightened uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) can also be caused by kidney disease, genetics, and other health problems.

Are hot dogs bad for gout?

Hot dogs are not known for their health benefits - and with good reason. In fact, the main component of a hot dog - the sausage - is usually made from hyper-processed meat products. Such processed meats have been linked to a huge number of serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has even classified processed meat as a carcinogen in humans.

All of this isn’t sounding great so far, but what about the effects of hot dogs specifically for gout?

Well, processed meats like hot dogs also contain extremely high levels of sodium - or salt. On average, a single hot dog usually contains in excess of 500 mg of sodium; for reference, the WHO recommends a daily intake of less than 2000 mg of sodium per day. Consuming too much sodium has been linked to headaches, raised blood pressure, and other significant health issues.

Interestingly, however, recent studies indicate that higher dietary salt intake may be associated with reduced levels of urinary and plasma uric acid levels. On the surface, this seems to indicate that a higher salt intake could reduce the risk of a gout flare-up, but experts warn to take these findings with, well, a pinch of salt…


Hot dogs may have been a cheat day favourite for centuries, but today we are more aware than ever of the potentially serious health implications of enjoying them in excess. Healthcare professionals advise gout sufferers against the consumption of too many processed meats (among a number of other foods) to help protect against gout flare-ups.

Moreover, while some research indicates that salt could help lower uric acid levels in the body, eating too much could lead to additional health problems, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and headaches. To conclude, while enjoying a hot dog every now and then may be permissible, you certainly shouldn’t consider them to be gout-friendly.

After all, there are plenty of other gout-friendly (and healthy) foods out there. What’s more, proper hydration, gout supplements, and eating mindfully are among the best things you can do to combat those pesky gout symptoms.

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