Dogs are carnivores so of course they can eat all meat products, right? Beef is a meat so beef jerky should be a nice treat for dogs? Surely dogs can eat beef jerky?
Like some other meat based things you might imagine dogs can eat, such as pepperoni or salami, the answer is… maybe.
It really depends upon how the jerky is made.
In this post I’m going to explain the varieties of beef jerky dogs can eat and those they can’t. I’ll also explain the health benefits and drawbacks of giving your dog beef jerky.
Table of Contents
- What Is Beef Jerky?
- Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?
- Is Beef Jerky Bad for Dogs?
- Is Beef Jerky Good for Dogs?
- Beef Jerky Nutrition Information
- Summary: Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?
What Is Beef Jerky?
Jerky is meat diced into thin strips and dried to prolong its life. Part of the drying process adding salt to further protect the meat against bacterial growth.
Dried in this way, jerky can last for many months, whereas raw and cooked meat spoils in a matter of days if it isn’t frozen or refrigerated.
Jerky can be made from any meat, and as you’ll imagine, beef jerky is made from… well you can figure that out!
Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?
As I mentioned in my introduction, dogs can maybe eat beef jerky… but it really does depend on how the jerky has been prepared.
Like most varieties, beef jerky is primarily produced for human consumption. While the original purpose of jerky was to prolong the life of raw meat before it spoiled, modern jerky is often produced and sold in packets as a snack. Commonly, it’s enhanced with a variety of flavourings to make it an appealing treat for people rather than a foodstuff that could help to save your life in the wilderness!
This means that oftentimes beef jerky contains a number of ingredients that we humans love but that can be harmful to dogs.
Is Beef Jerky Bad for Dogs?
The truth is that dogs shouldn’t eat beef jerky if it contains certain ingredients to make it appealing to the human treat market. Such ingredients might be:
- Monosodium glutamate
Some of these ingredients (garlic, onion, sweeteners such as xylitol) are foods that dogs can’t eat as they’re toxic to them and can be life threatening.
Garlic and onion contain a substance called n-propyl disulphide, which damages canine red blood cells causing haemolytic anaemia. This is an extremely serious condition that can be fatal.
Others are foods dogs shouldn’t eat regularly, as over time they might cause serious medical problems such as obesity or high blood pressure (monosodium glutamate, salt, sugar).
Sadly for dogs, an important part of the curing process in jerky made for humans is to add lots of salt. Salt is an especially bad thing to feed dogs since an excess in a dog’s diet can result in hypernatremia (sodium poisoning), which can also be fatal.
Many varieties of beef jerky made for humans are also high in fat. Again, an excess of fat can lead to heart disease and obesity, which can shorten a dog’s life and impact the quality of life it can enjoy.
Still other ingredients may provoke allergies (nuts, spices).
Furthermore, the quality (and amount) of the meat used in beef jerky, as well as how it’s processed, may result in a foodstuff that’s far removed from any nutritional benefit its meat content provides for dogs.
Finally, aside from any severe or long-term health problems certain varieties of beef jerky might cause, food that’s produced for human consumption can often cause digestive upset in dogs.
Is Beef Jerky Good for Dogs?
Beef jerky can be a healthy treat for dogs… assuming you have plain jerky that’s made for canine consumption or you can guarantee 100% that it contains no ingredients harmful to your dog.
Since all jerky is made from raw meat, you would expect it to be high in protein and for the most part, this will be the case for the beef variety.
To this end, dogs can eat beef jerky as an occasional high-protein treat, as long as it contains no other ingredients (i.e. jerky made for dogs).
Below are some of the nutritional properties of 100g of beef jerky (produced for human consumption) as defined by the US Department of Agriculture, where you can find the full nutrition guide:
|Total lipid (fat)||25.6g|
Summary: Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?
Dogs can eat beef jerky, but only if it contains no other ingredients than the meat itself. Most commercially available jerky is made for people so they contain ingredients that can be extremely dangerous for dogs or make them poorly.
There are a number of beef jerky products made for dogs though… a simple search on Amazon showed me these products.
Of course, even beef jerky that’s made for dogs must only ever be given as an occasional treat!
Do you give your dog canine beef jerky? Perhaps you’ve had an experience where your dog ate beef jerky it shouldn’t have? I’d love to hear from you with advice / recommendations in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
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