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Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky? | Is Beef Jerky Bad for Dogs?

is beef jerky bad for dogs

Beef jerky is a quick and easy snack that can satisfy any craving.  In the 1990s, NASA supplied astronauts with beef jerky to accompany them on space missions!  If it’s good enough for astronauts, is it good enough for dogs?  Can dogs eat beef jerky?  Or is beef jerky bad for dogs?  Continue reading to find out the answers to these questions and more! 

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Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky? (The Short Answer)

Dogs can technically have beef jerky, but there are a lot of things you must be cautious of before serving any to your dog.  First and foremost, beef jerky can potentially be a good treat option due to its high protein content and minimal fat content.  However, you should only feed this treat in moderation due to its high sodium content.  Additionally, a lot of jerky products contain multiple spices and seasonings, some of which are toxic to dogs.  Another big thing to be aware of is that some beef jerky products have been lethal to dogs and  have since been recalled.  While this treat can be healthy, you need to do your due diligence before feeding it to your pup! 

It’s important to remember, that even with the best of intentions, accidents happen and dogs can easily eat things they shouldn’t.  Unfortunately, even if those accidents aren’t fatal, they can result in huge, unexpected veterinary expenses.  That’s why we recommend all responsible dog owners get a free, online pet insurance quote from Healthy Paws.

Is Beef Jerky Good For Dogs?

Beef jerky is a unique situation.  There are many different variations, some of which are safe while others are potentially quite harmful.  Distinguishing them can be a bit of a challenge, but we’re here to help!  Beef jerky isn’t inherently bad for dogs, it’s simply dried out meat, but there are certain ingredients and nutrition information to be wary of, along with some dangerous manufacturers. 

The best option is serving homemade beef jerky—that way you know exactly what is in it and you minimize the risk of giving your dog a potentially harmful ingredient.  You can easily find dog-safe recipes with a quick Google search.  These recipes don’t include any harmful spices, added preservatives, or artificial flavorings!  It’s best to keep preservatives limited in your dog’s diet. 

There are some health benefits to this meaty treat!  Beef jerky is packed with protein—it has around 8 grams per serving!  Protein is obviously an important part of your dogs health.  Beef jerky is also shockingly low in fat.  This is because beef jerky is a lean meat that has had the fat trimmed off of it and then been dried to prolong its shelf life.  On average, there is about 5 grams of fat per serving. 

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Is Beef Jerky Bad for Dogs?

We’ve already answered the question, “can dogs eat beef jerky?” Now, let’s learn about the dangers of feeding your dog this food! Is beef jerky bad for dogs?

Yes, some beef jerky can be harmful to your pup.  The FDA has come forth and stated that this snack can be potentially dangerous.  You must be really wary of questionably-sourced beef jerky, versus the safer, human-grade dried beef options that are available.  Some of the main things to be aware of are ensuring that the beef jerky is naturally prepared and that it doesn’t have any additional spices. 

One of the main concerns when feeding your dog beef jerky is looking at the brand and thoroughly researching that specific brand.  Some brands, specifically a select few that originate in China, have been known to cause poisoning in dogs.  If your dog is vomiting or has severe, uncontrolled diarrhea, you should seek veterinary care immediately.  One brand specifically is “Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky Tenders.”  This product was known to cause severe problems in dogs and sometimes even death.  The exact product that was causing kidney issues and death in dogs was eventually recalled. 

Another big thing to look at are the ingredients in beef jerky.  Whether you’re making it at home or buying it in a store, it’s important to make sure that all the ingredients are dog friendly.  Many beef jerky products contain spices to enhance the flavor, however a lot of these spices are harmful to pets.  Specifically look for ingredients such as onion powder or garlic powder which are toxic to dogs.  Also keep an eye out for hotter spices such as red pepper, cayenne pepper, or paprika.  This is because dogs do not tolerate spicy foods as well as humans, as their stomachs are more sensitive.  Hot spices can easily cause an upset stomach. 

Beef jerky should only be served in moderation due to its high salt content. On average, in just one large piece of beef jerky, there are 416 mg of sodium.  The average 30 pound dog only needs around 100 mg of sodium per day.  This means that just one piece of beef jerky could push your pup way past the safe limit of sodium intake for the day.  You may think it’s no big deal, but too much sodium can actually be rather dangerous.  It can lead to sodium ion toxicity and dehydration.  Signs and symptoms of this includes vomiting and lethargy among others.

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Varieties of Beef Jerky & Beef Jerky Products:

Can Dogs Eat Teriyaki Beef Jerky?

No, dogs should not eat teriyaki beef jerky.  This product contains teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce is made of soy sauce, garlic, honey, brown sugar, and other spices to give it some heat.  Garlic can be toxic to dogs making teriyaki an automatic “no.”  Additionally, the added sugar content from the honey and brown sugar also make it an unhealthy option.  As if those weren’t enough, the spiciness of some teriyaki sauces may be too much for your dog’s stomach to handle and may cause some negative gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Can Dogs Eat Peppered Beef Jerky?

Probably not, as many peppered beef jerky options often contains soy sauce.  Soy sauce contains garlic which is a toxic ingredient to dogs.  To find out what peppered products dogs can have, check out our article, “Can Dogs Eat Peppercorn?” 

Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky Sticks?

Maybe, depending on the specific brand.  With all beef jerky products, it is so important to check all of the listed ingredients to ensure there are no toxic or harmful ingredients in it.  Additionally, you should only give your dog a small amount at a time due to their incredibly high sodium content. 

Is Turkey Jerky Safe for Your Pup?

Turkey jerky can be safe for dogs depending on the added ingredients.  Plain turkey is safe for dogs, but the addition of other ingredients and spices is what makes it potentially harmful. With all jerky, you should look at the sodium content, the ingredient list, and the brand manufacturer before feeding.

Is Jerky Safe for Your Pup?

It depends on the specific product.  If it is a homemade jerky that you know doesn’t include any harmful spices or additives then, yes, it should be safe for dogs.  If you buy some beef jerky at the store, you should thoroughly look through the ingredients before giving any to your dog.  Beef jerky is an interesting case because it depends so much on specific brands and their reputation. See the “Is Beef Jerky Bad for Dogs?” section for more information.

In Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?

Dogs can have beef jerky, but only if you take the correct precautions and thoroughly look into any products you consider giving your dog.  Check out the ingredients list for any potentially harmful or toxic ingredients that are often added as spices or seasonings.  Even if you conclude that this beef jerky product is safe, you should not give your dog too much as it has a very high salt content.  If you follow these guidelines, you can find a safe and healthy jerky product that will give your dog a high-protein snack that will taste great!

Alternative Options

Check out these related articles from our “Read Before You Feed” series for more advice on safe foods for dogs!

Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians and this article should not be taken as medical or veterinary advice.  If you have any questions about your pet’s health or dietary needs, please contact your local veterinarian.