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Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?

Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?

In this article, we’ll explore can dogs eat beef jerky? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always that simple! There are many considerations to bear in mind when feeding your dog any kind of dried meat. So, let’s explore whether beef jerky is safe for your doggie or not.

If you’re preparing your breakfast and notice your canine buddy eyeing your beef jerky. Looking for a special treat, what would you do? You don’t give it much thought. You might just share your meal with your dog and go ahead with your day. It’s meat, after all, so what’s the harm?

The Basics

Your dog’s digestive tract isn’t meant to deal with any abrupt diet variations. So you need to be extra careful when introducing any new food elements to your dog’s meals. Beef jerky can present your canine pal’s digestive tract with a real challenge. Especially, if you’re not mindful enough about the type and amount your dog consumes.

To play it safe, stick to beef jerky explicitly made for dogs. You want to pamper your canine buddy with a special treat every now and then. Human beef jerky can be a bit tricky in terms of determining its safety for your dog.

Furthermore, the manufacturing company should play a significant role in your choice for your dog’s treats. Unfortunately, some companies use unsafe additives that might harm your dog and lead to serious health consequences. If in doubt, always check with your vet and only use FDA-approved products.

So, Is Beef Jerky Good for Your Dog?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore what makes beef jerky a treat of choice for some dog owners and what makes others steer away altogether from it. Most importantly, we’ll help you figure out whether there’s a middle ground between the two groups and how to get the most benefit for your dog.

Your four-legged pal needs a diet rich in protein to thrive and maintain good health. So here comes the role of dried meat like beef jerky, as it’s not only a protein-rich snack but also comes packed with some essential elements like iron and zinc.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, though, as some packaged beef jerky comes with other additives that aren’t always healthy for dogs. 

For example, some manufacturers treat their beef with a concentrated salt solution and other synthetic additives to extend its shelf life. The excess sodium can be highly harmful to dogs and brings about plenty of health consequences like hypertension.

As you can tell by now, beef jerky is completely fine on its own, but the whole problem lies in the other ingredients added during meat processing or after the fact. That being said, you need to pay close attention to the ingredients label and carefully choose what goes into your dog’s system.

Dangerous Ingredients to Avoid When Choosing Beef Jerky for Your Dog

Giving your doggie human beef jerky isn’t recommended, as it usually adds spices to deliver a more tasty flavor. Nevertheless, not all beef jerky made specifically for dogs is safe. You can’t just pick the first product you see with a dog’s picture on it and overlook the ingredients label. Here are some of the ingredients that you shouldn’t let your dog eat.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic and onion powder are usually added to cured meat to deliver a rich aroma and a savory taste. However, such ingredients can be detrimental to your dog’s health and cause a specific type of anemia known as hemolytic anemia.

Such a blood disease results from the breakdown of your dog’s red blood cells, impeding their ability to carry oxygen. With a suboptimal oxygen-carrying capacity, your canine buddy can suffer from easy fatigability and, therefore, exhibit a low level of activity. 


Our dogs’ digestive tracts aren’t built to deal with spicy food, making it a no-brainer to secure a spot for spices on the “to avoid” list. Spices can irritate your dog’s stomach and bowel, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. 

Food regurge is another serious issue that results from irritation to the sphincter or gate that separates the esophagus from the stomach. Only the stomach has what it takes to withstand the acidity needed for food digestion. If such an acidic content goes up to the esophagus, it can be corrosive to its wall and lead to the development of ulcers.

You should be concerned if you notice that your dog has an unexplained aversion to food or presents with excessive salivation and drooling.


Next up is xylitol, which can quickly mess up your dog’s blood sugar levels. This is because your dog’s digestive system quickly absorbs xylitol, and once its levels rise in the blood, it stimulates the release of a large amount of insulin.

Insulin abruptly lowers the blood sugar level, and your dog can present with weakness, fatigue, seizures, incoordination, or even collapse. Such symptoms usually become evident within 10 to 60 minutes following the consumption of a considerable amount of xylitol.


Sodium is an essential element for a complete diet for your dog; however, it becomes extremely dangerous at high levels. Hypertension and heart problems are just a few examples of the many health consequences of a salt-rich diet.

Make sure you visit your vet if you notice that your four-legged friend presents excessive thirst and urination. Discovering salt poisoning in a timely manner is important to avoid irreversible organ damage.

Black Pepper

Though black pepper shouldn’t harm your dog if consumed in moderate amounts, it can still irritate its eyes and throat. Your canine friend might present with watery eyes after savoring its peppered jerky treat; that’s why it’s recommended to avoid black pepper. Also, it doesn’t deliver any considerable nutritional benefits that are worth the inconvenience.

Beef Jerky Varieties

There are plenty of jerky products on the market, and it might get overwhelming when trying to figure out which ones are okay and which aren’t. Luckily, we’re here to help you sort out the different jerky varieties and make sure you choose the safest option for your dog.

Teriyaki Beef Jerky

Though Teriyaki beef jerky is a feast for your dog’s taste buds, you should give a hard pass on this one. The sauce is made of garlic and soy mixed with honey and brown sugar. The high sugar content makes it an unhealthy option that can lead to obesity in addition to its negative impact on the digestive tract.

Beef Jerky Sticks

When deciding on whether to treat your dog with a beef jerky stick, you should follow the same rules we’ve already established when choosing the right dried meat product for your canine buddy. Make sure to check the label for any unhealthy ingredients. Furthermore, your dog should only have a small amount at a time due to concerns of excess sodium content. 

Turkey Jerky

Just like beef, turkey undergoes similar processing to deliver the jerky stickers and slices you’re familiar with. Harmful additives can go into the process; that’s why it’s key to scan the ingredients label and make sure there’s nothing in there that might harm your dog. As usual, sodium content is the prime determining factor for choosing one product over another.

Always Go for Homemade Over Store Beef Jerky

Always choose homemade beef jerky over any pre-packaged products. This way, you’ll know for sure what goes into your dog’s snacks. Keep it as simple as possible, as it’s always better to go for plain, unsalted beef jerky that fulfills your dog’s protein needs without messing with the balance of other micronutrients.

Admittedly, your dog might not be thrilled by the bland jerky slices you hand it. If this is the case, the second-best option is naturally dehydrated jerky. Some manufacturers take pride in delivering an all-organic food that balances a great taste and a carefully picked list of ingredients. 

As long as your dog’s beef jerky is free from the harmful additives we’ve gone through, you’re good to go. Also, moderation is key – beef jerky shouldn’t be your dog’s only treat. Make sure you gradually introduce beef jerky to your dog’s diet and ensure its amount is always in check no matter how much your dog loves it.

In Conclusion

Beef jerky can be one of the best treats for your dog, thanks to its rich protein content. However, as a dog owner, you need to do your homework and pay extra attention to the ingredients that go into your dog’s treats. 

Garlic, onion, and excess sodium are some of the examples of food elements that should be avoided. Finally, preparing your dog’s beef jerky at home is always a better option, as you know precisely what goes into it.

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