Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky? What You Need to Know!

A healthy diet for a dog should be high in protein, so you may have found yourself looking for high protein dog treats and wondered – can dogs eat beef jerky?

In this article, we will look at the facts and find out whether it is safe and healthy to feed beef jerky to our pet dogs.

  • What is beef jerky?
  • Can dogs eat beef jerky?
  • What will happen if your dog eats beef jerky?
  • What kinds of beef jerky are safe for dogs?
  • Are jerky treats made for dogs safe for dogs?
safe for dogs to eat

Yes, dogs can eat beef jerky in moderation, occasionally.

Dogs should eat beef jerky made specifically for dogs as normal beef jerky may contain unhealthy ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, sugar, salt, onion & garlic powder.

is it safe for dogs to eat jerky

What Is Beef Jerky?

The word “jerky” comes from the Quechua word ch’arki, which translates to dried, salted beef

Jerky for human consumption is made from thinly cut strips of lean beef, which have been dried to prevent spoilage. 

The drying process includes the addition of salt. This is an essential ingredient, as it is added to avoid the growth of bacteria before the meat has been fully dehydrated.

Jerky can be eaten straight from the packet and requires no further cooking or preparation. 

It can also be stored for months without refrigeration due to the chemical preservatives used to prolong shelf life, preventing oxidative spoilage.

The meat in commercially produced jerky is highly processed meat, which has been chopped and formed rather than the thinly sliced whole muscle meat of traditional jerky. 

This means that it is likely to contain a lot more fat than conventional varieties. 

The jerky you can find in the shops today has often been marinated and rubbed with spices and smoked with low heat. Sweeteners like brown sugar are also used.

Beef jerky is a popular high protein snack, especially since low carb diets have gained popularity with more and more people wanting to lose weight. 

Beef jerky is also a good snack option for endurance athletes as the high salt content replenishes salt lost through sweating.

dog eating treat

Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?

It should be noted that beef jerky made for human consumption is not made for dogs, and it is therefore not recommended that you feed it to them due to the added ingredients which are unhealthy for dogs, particularly the high salt, fat, and sugar content of commercial beef jerky.

The FDA has stated that beef jerky can be dangerous for dogs. Indeed thousands of dogs have become sick, and many have died due to the consumption of this product. 

There are many brands of jerky for pets, which may be considered risky, and we will look at these further on in the article, but mostly it is the high salt, preservatives, and spices that make human-grade beef jerky unsuitable for dog consumption.

The spices that human-grade beef jerky contains are usually onion and garlic powders. Both onion and garlic are part of the allium family and are poisonous to dogs causing organ and red blood cell damage. 

Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen around the body, and damaged red blood cells can, therefore, lead to breathing problems.

The powdered forms and both garlic and onions are incredibly concentrated and are therefore far more potent than fresh onions and garlic. This makes beef jerky a high risk for your dog.

Did you know that just one ounce of beef jerky contains over five times the healthy daily limit of salt for a 33-pound dog? This is another good reason to avoid offering your dog a piece of jerky, thinking it is a healthy snack.

What Will Happen If Your Dog Eats Beef Jerky?

The high levels of salt in beef jerky are most likely to cause problems for your dog if they eat it. 

A small amount of salt is necessary for good health, but too much can lead to health problems and even sodium poisoning for your dog.

Overeating beef jerky could initially lead to excessive thirst and urination, but more severe symptoms will arise if the dog experiences salt poisoning. 

beef jerky sticks

Here is a list of some of the symptoms of salt poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Fluid Build-up
  • Increased heart rate
  • Death

What Kinds Of Beef Jerky Are Safe For Dogs?

If you are feeling frustrated or disappointed because you thought you had stumbled across an excellent treat for your dog and one that they love and go mad for, because what dog doesn’t like chewy, tasty meat strips? 

The great news is that you can make your beef jerky for your dog, which is 100% safe. 

There is nothing better than coming up with your dog treat recipes because you can know exactly what goes into making them, and you have the control to make them as pure and healthy as possible so that your dog can enjoy his treats without any risk or detriment to his health.

When making your beef jerky treats, you can avoid all of the salt, garlic and onion powder, pepper, and other spices that go into making beef jerky terrible for dogs, not to mention all the chemicals and preservatives. 

You can make the beef jerky fresh using a dehydrator or even with your kitchen oven on the lowest heat setting. 

A good tip is to trim all of the fat off the meat before you start to filet it as the extra moisture from the fat will slow down the dehydration process. Don’t forget that overcooking is always better than undercooking.

Making your beef jerky is an excellent idea because you can take advantage of discounted meat that is close to its sell-by date, your local supermarket. 

Once the jerky has been prepared, you should store it in the refrigerator or freezer because homemade beef jerky won’t have any preservatives added to it, and it will go wrong if left out for too long.

What’s more, there are plenty of other safe foods that you can dehydrate for your dogs as healthy snacks and treats. 

For example, chicken and other meats always make great jerky. Sweet potato is also a healthy and tasty substitute for meat that your dog will love, and not to mention much cheaper!

beef jerky for dogs

Are Jerky Treats Made For Dogs Safe For Dogs?

You can also buy jerky treats made especially for dogs, but you should be very selective about which brands you go for, especially avoiding cheaper brands of chicken jerky. 

There have been thousands of cases of dogs becoming very ill and dying after the consumption of certain brands of affordable chicken jerky treats that were supposedly made, especially for canines. A high percentage of these have come from brands made in China.

It is not just chicken jerky for dogs that have been implicated either. Duck, beef, and even sweet potato jerky treats have posed a risk to dogs.

After consuming these toxic jerky treats, dogs are likely to vomit and have diarrhea. 

They may also develop symptoms of liver or pancreatic disease, or severe kidney damage through the development of Fanconi syndrome, in which the kidney tubules are unable to reabsorb sugars, proteins, and salts from the urine. 

Symptoms of this fatal condition include a loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. Also, increased thirst and urination, dehydration, and weight loss can occur.

Always be sure to go for a reputable dog treat brands, and look for 100% pure and naturally dehydrated jerky that is made from a single source protein such as beef, bison, venison, or elk.

Summary

It can be tempting to offer your dog some beef jerky from a packet that you have just opened. The smell will be so inviting to your dog that they are likely to come begging straight away. 

Before you give in to the temptation, keep in mind all of the unhealthy aspects of human-grade beef jerky that have been explored in this article. 

When in doubt always feed fresh, unprocessed, human foods like fruit and veggies as treats to your dog, and if you do want to offer them dehydrated meats as treats, be very careful of your source.

can dogs eat beef jerky
(Last Updated On: March 28, 2020)
Liz
 

I'm a self-employed blogger, life-long pet parent, and lover of dogs and somehow manage to have time to pursue another of my passions - writing. I’m the primary contributor and editor of PUPPY FAQS. I love to write about nutrition, health, and care of puppies. In my spare time, I volunteer at my local dog shelter. If you have a question that needs answering, please leave a comment below, and I will do my best to explain it.

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