Should I Add Beef Jerky to My Dog’s Diet?

Just a moment; stay with me for a second. Perhaps you have just tasted your beef jerky and found it delicious and savory, and you want to share it with your favorite dog. Yet, before you pass this beef jerky to your dog, it would be best to synthesize a few beef jerky facts. It could cushion you against various inconveniences in the long run.

Beef jerky is typically meat with less than 50% moisture. It also has a strong flavor, low fat content, and is rich in proteins. Yet, this does not automatically translate to being suitable for your pet. The following insights will help.

Is Beef Jerky Suitable For Your Dog?

Beef jerky is not ideal for your dog. While it poses no immediate danger, this option has proven significantly unhealthy and unsafe for pets. You can attribute this to its multiple ingredients that could harm the dog. In addition, it is highly processed, making it an unhealthy addition to your dog’s diet. However, you can feed your dog with beef jerky in moderation, only if necessary.

Beef jerky contains various preservatives, chemicals, and ingredients considered unhealthy for dogs. The most common preservative used in beef jerky is salt, which is dangerous when consumed in excess. Excessive consumption of salt is associated with sodium poisoning, frequent urination, and significant thirst.

Further, various seasonings and spices are used on beef jerky. These artificial flavors and pepper can cause stomach upsets, contributing to vomiting and diarrhea. An itchy or painful gastrointestinal tract will also suffice. The dog will also experience unusual muscle spasms, fluid buildup, and an increased heart rate.

Xylitol is yet another powerful ingredient used in beef jerky. While it has minimal impact on human beings, it could be detrimental to your pet. Xylitol instantly lowers blood sugar levels, meaning your dog will likely experience seizures, lethargy, incoordination, and general body weakness.

Other ingredients used in beef jerky include garlic, onions, and pepper. Garlic and onions are associated with damaging red blood cells, contributing to anemic conditions in dogs.

Dietary Concerns Associated With Beef Jerky

Suppose you want to change your dog’s diet suddenly. In that case, your dog will likely not respond well, as transitioning to the new food will probably take a while. For this reason, you’d want to be careful before sharing your beef jerky with your pet. Otherwise, you’ll expose it to multiple health issues in the long run.

Beef jerky is a highly processed meal, which could be unkind to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and stomach. Like any other processed food, beef jerky has an altered chemical structure, providing little nutritional value. In addition, this processed food forces the pancreas to work hard, exposing it to other health dangers.

Beef Jerky and Sodium Poisoning

Beef jerky contains a substantial amount of salt, used to add flavor to the meat and preserve it. Yet, excessive consumption of salt results in sodium poisoning. You could also refer to sodium poisoning as hypernatremia.

In most cases, drinking enough water will help balance the salt in the body. However, this becomes impossible if your dog cannot access water immediately. In such instances, the body cells will work excessively hard, releasing water to fight the effects. Unfortunately, this might not be enough.

Hypernatremia arises when the plasma sodium concentration exceeds the recommended level. This condition poses various symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, incoordination, and seizures. Your dog’s muscles could also become significantly stiff and shaky, including shriveling from moisture loss.

Various neurological health issues will also suffice after contracting hypernatremia. As long as the cells keep struggling to release water to compensate for the excess salt in the body, the dog’s brain cells will gradually dry out. A dysfunctional brain will expose your pet to a coma, convulsions, or fatality.

The best move in such situations is to consult a vet. The vet will help establish the best remedial practice, ensuring your dog remains healthy. You might need to indicate whether the signs are mild or adverse. Mild symptoms include excessive urination, thirst, and diarrhea. Muscle spasms, increased heart rates, fluid buildup, and vomiting indicate a more severe condition.

Effects of Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions are standard when preparing beef jerky. While they add flavor, they have proven harmful to dogs. These ingredients are toxic to blood cells, damaging their membranes and encouraging free radicals to cause more harm. Destroying red blood cells implies that oxygen will hardly get transported across the body. In addition, your dog will likely succumb to anemia.

Onions come with a component called N-propyl disulfide. This compound attaches to the red blood cells, making the red blood cell appear foreign to the body. For this reason, it triggers the immune system to fight the affected red blood cells and damages them, which translates to the inability to supply enough oxygen to various body parts of the dog.

Consequently, reduced oxygen supply gradually affects tissues and organs. Some will slowly die, exposing the dog to a coma or fatality. This pet will also become significantly weak and will hardly maintain its balance. Incoordination arises from the minimal supply of oxygen and blood to the brain.

Various symptoms indicate that your dog has consumed excess garlic and onions. Always check out for the following signs.

  • Anemia
  • Stains of blood in the urine
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pale gums and mucous membranes
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Diarrhea

In extreme circumstances, you’ll need to enlist the help of a veterinarian to resolve the crisis and find a way to lessen the threats. At the same time, various treatment options are available.

For instance, you could consider feeding your dog with activated charcoal to induce vomiting. You’ll also conduct blood smears daily to establish whether the dog is now anemic. Suppose your pet sustains anemia. In that case, if the condition is severe, blood transfusion becomes inevitable.

Yet, the best prognosis would be to avoid the problem from the start. You could also consider an early intervention or appropriate care.

Should I Feed Beef Jerky to My Dog?

Generally, beef jerky is not an ideal treat for your dog. You can attribute this to its multiple harmful ingredients, including salt and pepper. However, if you find plain beef jerky, your dog will be at no risk. This meat should have no additional artificial preservatives, flavors, and salt. The absence of these elements will help reduce the chances of getting anemia.

At the same time, plain beef jerky is highly nutritious. It provides enough proteins to boost muscle growth and development. Yet, still, offer it in small amounts.

Related: How much should I feed my dog? Factors to consider

Alternatives to Beef Jerky

There are various alternatives to beef jerky, but nothing beats handmade jerky. A homemade option allows you more control on what to include, ensuring that the final product is healthy for your dog. Here is a recipe you cannot overlook.

Related: Can Dogs Eat Slim Jims? Should You Feed Your Dog Beef Jerky?


You’ll also need the right equipment to get the best product. Usually, a dehydrator, a glass container for marinating, and a reliable oven should suffice.


  • Mix your marinade, preferably a batch per pound of meat
  • Cut the meat into uniform sizes
  • Add the meat to your marinade, preferably for four to 24 hours
  • Preheat your mixture to 160 degF
  • Use a paper towel to dry the marinated meat and place them on a tray for enough airflow
  • Please put them in a dehydrator and leave them for about four hours
  • If using an oven, set three hours.

Related: Can Dogs Eat Steak?

Final Thoughts

Beef jerky is an excellent treat. Yet, it is not the healthiest choice for your furry friend. With the insights above, you understand what changes you should embrace.

Further Reading:

Similar Posts