There is no straightforward answer to this question. While some types of beef jerky are safe for dogs when used in treat-sized portions, others are harmful regardless of the serving size. The word jerky literally translates to dried, salted meat.
While the dried part is safe for dogs, the added amounts of salt are troublesome. Plus, in addition to salt, some beef jerky recipes include other ingredients. So, before we give the final verdict on beef jerky for dogs, let’s see its benefits and risks.
- Why is Beef Jerky Good for Dogs?
- Can Beef Jerky be Bad for Dogs?
- How Much Beef Jerky Can my Dog Eat?
- How to Prepare and Serve Beef Jerky for Your Dog?
Why is Beef Jerky Good for Dogs?
Beef jerky is tasty – for both dogs and their owners. Plus, it being lean trimmed meat, it is also rich in proteins. Here are some of the reasons beef jerky is good for dogs.
Convenient Snack Option
To be honest, beef jerkies are among the most convenient snacks – they are tasty, readily available, and have a long shelf-life. Plus, you can use them on the go.
High Protein Levels
Proteins are vital for life. They are building blocks and critical for everybody function and process. Beef jerkies, the same as any other beef-derived food alternative, are rich in proteins.
Iron, Folic Acid and Other Nutrients
Beef jerkies contain significant amounts of various minerals, including iron, zinc, and phosphorus. They are also rich in folic acid (vitamin B9) and cobalamin (vitamin B12).
Variety on the Menu
Dogs enjoy having different foods on the menu. This concept applies to both meals and treats. Throwing a beef jerky or two between the treat options adds a much-appreciated menu variety.
Can Beef Jerky be Bad for Dogs?
Yes, beef jerky can be bad for dogs, especially if made for human consumption or fed in excess amounts. Just because dogs are carnivores and thrive on meat does not mean they should be provided with any meat type.
There are various risks associated with beef jerky for dogs, from too much salt to artificial preservatives to added spices. Let’s go through the reasons beef jerky is bad for dogs.
Too Much Salt
Being preserved with salt and salted solutions, beef jerkies are a heavily salted food. Dogs cannot process high salt amounts and, if exposed, are prone to dehydration (especially if they already have a kidney problem). In more extreme cases, salt can be toxic and cause salt poisoning.
To improve the taste, many brands add spices to the beef jerkies – red and black pepper. Spicy foods are harsh on the dog’s stomach, trigger upsets, and can even cause gastrointestinal ulcers.
Garlic and Onion
Garlic and onion powders are common enticing additions to beef jerkies. As members of the Allium family, garlic and onion are toxic to dogs – they damage the red blood cells and cause anemia.
Another toxic ingredient in beef jerky is xylitol. This artificial sweetener is sometimes added to counteract the salty flavor required by the preservation and dehydration process. Xylitol poisoning in dogs is a life-threatening situation.
Beef is one of the most common food allergens in dogs. Dogs allergic to beef may develop gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and cramping) or skin issues (rashes, hives, facial swelling).
Beef jerkies are made with added artificial preservatives. It is no secret that such preservatives are harmful to dogs, especially if consumed more frequently.
Highly Processed Food
Beef jerkies are highly processed food. The dog’s stomach is not designed to digest such foods. Therefore, eating too many beef jerkies can wreak havoc on the dog’s digestive system and cause an upset.
How Much Beef Jerky Can my Dog Eat?
When it comes to beef jerkies, keep in mind they are just treats – they are not a substitute for a complete and balanced meal. A medium-sized dog can eat two to four bite-sized chunks.
Larger dogs can safely enjoy up to six, while small dogs can eat only one. As for serving frequency, dogs appreciate variety so, you should make the jerkies a once per week treat.
It goes without saying that you should not offer young puppies beef jerky or any other form of dehydrated and highly processed meat. Puppies have other nutritional requirements, and their tummies are way too sensitive.
How to Prepare and Serve Beef Jerky for Your Dog?
To ensure a dog-friendly beef jerky treat, you have two options – make the treats at home using ingredients that are healthy for dogs or buy the treats while being mindful about what they include.
When shopping for beef jerkies for dogs, go for versions made exclusively for dogs or human-grade beef jerkies but free from unfriendly ingredients (onion, garlic, spices, xylitol).
Once you have the beef jerkies (homemade or store-bought), you need to serve them properly – chopped or torn into bite-sized chunks. Beef jerkies are hard to chew, and a dog with a big appetite can easily choke on them.
All in all, dogs can eat beef jerky as long as it is homemade or store-bought but dog-friendly. By dog-friendly, we mean plain (no spices), naturally dehydrated (free from preservatives), and made from a single protein source.
On the other hand, beef jerkies for humans featuring tons of salt and added spices and artificial preservatives are dangerous to dogs and must be avoided. Therefore, if you want your dog to enjoy the enticing beef jerky flavor, roll up your sleeves and make them at home.
Homemade beef jerkies are way healthier for both you and your dog (you will know precisely what is inside of the treats). Plus, beef jerkies are relatively easy to make – you can find dozens of recipes online.
- The Top 7 Most Common Food Allergens for Dogs, Christine Caplan, 2021
- Salt Poisoning in Dogs, iPupster, 2021
- What is xylitol?, Laura Playforth, 2020
- Can My Dog Eat Spicy Food?, Chrissie Klinger, 2018
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