Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky? Is Beef Jerky Safe for Dogs?

Can dogs have beef jerky

As dog owners, many of us feed our dogs pieces of our meals all the time. With some foods, this isn’t a major concern as they can be harmless treats that won’t have any negative effects on your dog’s health. But other foods can be harmful and even potentially fatal.

Sometimes, the foods that can be dangerous for our dogs might be surprising. That’s the case with beef jerky, a food that most of us would assume is perfectly safe for your dog to consume. While that may seem like the case, upon closer examination, you’ll see that beef jerky isn’t the safest of snacks for your canine.

Can dogs have beef jerky

Can My Dog Eat Beef Jerky?

When you think of foods that are toxic for dogs, beef jerky isn’t likely to be at the front of the list. In fact, it’s probably not on the list at all!

Many people would assume that since it’s just meat and that it’s very similar to the meat sticks you purchase as treats for your dog and probably won’t hurt your pup at all.

On the surface, this seems like a safe statement. But once you dive deeper into the ingredients used in beef jerky, you’ll see that this isn’t quite the case.

But you might object, beef jerky isn’t just made with beef!

No doubt, beef is the main ingredient. But what about all the preservatives used to keep it safe without refrigeration? And how about all the spices that give it that great flavor? Unfortunately, these are the ingredients that aren’t good for dogs.

Sodium Content

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, humans should be limiting their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day at a maximum. A quick internet search will reveal that a single ounce of beef jerky contains 590 milligrams of sodium. So even for us, a single serving of beef jerky has more than one-quarter of your day’s recommended maximum sodium intake.

Now let’s look at how that compares for your dog. The Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources says that a 33-pound dog should be consuming a maximum of 100 milligrams of sodium per day. If you double that for a 66-pound dog, a pretty sizable pooch, that’s still a maximum of 200 milligrams of sodium intake per day.

Let’s compare that to the beef jerky. A single ounce has 590 milligrams of sodium, but your pooch can only eat 200 milligrams in a day. That means that an ounce of beef jerky contains about three times as much sodium as your dog can safely consume in a single day.

If your dog is just 33 pounds, then that same ounce of beef jerky contains approximately six times as much sodium as your dog can safely ingest in an entire day. So, what happens if you feed your dog two ounces or even three? You’ll be going over their daily recommended sodium intake by a massive margin.


Sodium isn’t the only dangerous compound for your dog that’s found in beef jerky.

We love beef jerky for the delicious flavor, which is produced by a particular blend of spices that makes it so tasty. While those spices just add flavor for us, they can do a lot worse for our pooches who aren’t meant to eat some of those spices at all.

In beef jerky, two spices, in particular, don’t do well with our dogs — onion and garlic.

Onion and garlic are part of the allium family of plants. These plants can damage organs and even red blood cells. This can lead to difficulty breathing when the blood cells can no longer carry oxygen through your dog’s body.

So, this means that the very spices that make beef jerky so delicious for us are the same spices that make it dangerous for your dog.

Can dogs have beef jerky
Image credit: Bruno Cervera, Pexels

Can dogs have beef jerky

Human Beef Jerky vs Dog Jerky

So far, we’ve been discussing beef jerky that was made for humans. But what about jerky made specifically for dogs?

In general, dog-specific jerky is going to be healthier than human alternatives. Jerky for dogs generally has far fewer ingredients. This means fewer spices and far less sodium, which can result in a much healthier treat for your four-legged family member.

When looking for dog jerky, take a look at the ingredients list. You want to find jerky that has as few ingredients as possible. In fact, if it has just a single ingredient, that’s the best bet.

Did Dog Jerky Kill Over 1,000 Canines?

You might have heard a scary news story ran by NBC in 2014 about dogs dying after consuming dog jerky treats. This is absolutely true and over 1,000 dogs died.

The jerky that killed these dogs was imported from China. As it turns out, the dogs were getting kidney disease because these treats were contaminated.

Obviously, you need to be careful with what treats you feed your dog. Just because they’re sold in a store and are labeled dog treats doesn’t make them safe. This is why we recommend taking a look at the ingredients list and finding out what’s really inside of those treats before feeding them to your beloved pet.

Read more  Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky? What You Need To Know

Also, as a general rule of thumb, you should stay away from low-end dog treats.

Can dogs have beef jerky
Image: Pikist

Homemade Jerky vs Store Bought

A final question that many ask pertains to homemade jerky: is it as bad as store-bought jerky for your canine?

It depends on how you make it. One great thing about making jerky yourself is that you know exactly what it contains. You can keep out any of the harmful additives, keep the sodium levels low, and even avoid adding in spices so that it’s safe for your pooch.

If you do all these things, then your homemade beef jerky should be perfectly safe for your dog’s consumption.

Can dogs have beef jerky


Though beef jerky may seem like a harmless treat to offer your dog, the truth is that it can be dangerous due to the preservatives and spices. The high levels of sodium present in beef jerky can cause your dog to ingest many times more salt than they should consume in a single day.

Worse, the onion and garlic used to add flavor to beef jerky can actually be very harmful to your dog. Stick to dog jerky and homemade treats instead of feeding your furry friend harmful human jerky.

Featured Image Credit: Daniel Albany, Pixabay

— Update: 08-02-2023 — found an additional article Is Beef Jerky a Dangerous Treat For My Pet Dog? from the website for the keyword can dogs have beef jerky.

Last Updated on

Have you heard that beef jerky could be harmful or even deadly for dogs?

Unfortunately it’s true that some of these meat products are unsafe for pets.

Can dogs have beef jerkyThe FDA has actually come out and stated that beef jerky can, in fact, be dangerous for dogs.

Luckily you can reduce the risks by sticking to human-grade dried jerky. The key is to avoid any questionably sourced treats.

Be Very Selective When Feeding Your Dog Beef Jerky

Thousands of canines have been sickened and many have died.

So be sure that your beef jerky is naturally prepared and without an abundance of spices because some can certainly have toxic effects.

In particular, some Chinese-manufactured products are unsafe and can even be fatal.

And keep in mind that the very nature of how beef jerky is made means nasty chemicals could be a factor.

Spicy Beef Jerky Treats

Most dogs like the taste and chewiness of beef jerky.

Owners have long used it as a treat or reward. But, at the very least, make sure it’s not spicy.

Sometimes you can remove spices by washing beef jerky. But the manufacturing process may involve a curing and marinating technique.

In other words, it may be impossible to remove spices.

This is just one reason why we do not recommend beef jerky. At the very least, be cautious.

Store Bought vs Homemade Jerky

Beef jerky is delicious since it is loaded with, again, lots of spices.

The beef is also treated with a salty solution and preservatives prolong shelf life.

Garlic, onion powder and pepper may be included in the recipe. These are all potentially harmful for hounds.

Homemade beef jerky is best because you’ll know exactly what ingredients are in your dog’s dried meat snacks.

An easier way is to get quality beef jerky treats that are specifically made for dogs.

Downright Dangerous

A brand called Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky Tenders, made by Nestle Purina in China, should be avoided.

There are several other brands which are also risky. Be careful!

Your dog may need urgent help for a case of poisoning. It depends on the severity.

Is vomiting and/or diarrhea severe and uncontrolled?

Feeding your dog too much of any meat product can cause stomachaches or worse. Most of the time you’ll see increased gas or diarrhea. Dehydration is also a concern.

Upset Stomach Remedies

Dogs can be given an antacid for gas or stomach rumbling. Often times symptoms will go away on their own.

Pepcid and Zantac are generally safe for mild gastrointestinal issues. Pepto-Bismol is also okay for dogs with mild diarrhea.

Careful though! Dosage for humans and dogs can be quite different. Severe food poisoning should be addressed by a professional ASAP.

The Bottom Line

Your dog probably loves beef jerky. But high salt, preservatives and spices make this snack questionable.

Some brands have killed dogs and seriously sickened many more.

Toxicity is a real concern.

Make your own, or be selective or just avoid. Whether as a treat, or for training, not all jerky is safe for dogs.

What Do You Think? Have Your Say Below…

— Update: 09-02-2023 — found an additional article Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky? Here Are the Facts from the website for the keyword can dogs have beef jerky.

Since dogs love meat and jerky is just dried meat, why must we question whether or not to feed it to our dogs? The truth is that beef jerky is a little more than just dried meat today, and your dog has nutritional needs to consider. So, while you’re snacking on beef jerky treats with your dog sitting at your feet, you may feel tempted to relent to their begging or lovely, longing eyes and share it with them. Here are a few facts to think about first.

Related: Is Beef Jerky Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Benefits

Is Beef Jerky Good for Your Dog?

The short answer is no. While it might not immediately poison your dog, it isn’t the safest treat for them. The problem is that today’s beef jerky is highly processed and contains ingredients that may harm your dog. 

Here are some of those potentially harmful ingredients:

  • Excessive salt
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Peppers
  • Spicy flavors
  • Xylitol 

These ingredients are delicious to humans and make our beef jerky experience a satisfying one, but not so for our dogs. These are not good for your dog, and some dogs are especially sensitive to gluten – which is also an ingredient.

Can dogs have beef jerky

Your Dog’s Dietary Concerns

You may have already noticed this about your dog, but they don’t respond well to changes in their diets. They require a slow transition even to change the brand of food you feed them. So when you’re thinking about sharing your beef jerky with your dog, think about the flavorings, the amount of salt contained, and also about the overall quality of the product. 

Read more  How Much Does A Dog X-Ray Cost? And Why Your Dog Might Need One

Highly processed foods aren’t good for any of us. While we may be able to stomach it, your dog may experience tummy upset. The preservatives will do your dog no good, but the real issue with beef jerky is the salt content. 


A large amount of salt in your dog’s blood can lead to sodium poisoning, also called hypernatremia. If they consume too much salt, in an ordinary situation, your dog would simply drink enough water to balance the salt in their blood. But if there is no water available or they consume too much salt too quickly, their cells will desperately release water to combat the ill effects.  

The dangers of hypernatremia to your dog are not to be ignored. This condition will destroy their brain cells because of the lack of water. They will suffer headaches, dizziness, and seizures. Additionally, their muscles can become stiff and shaky as they lose moisture and shrivel. 

But the worst effects of hypernatremia are the neurological ones. When your dog’s cells release water to compensate for all the extra salt in their blood, brain cells dry out. Your dog can face going into a coma, convulsions, and death. So, if your dog ingests a large amount of salt, contact your vet whether or not they show adverse signs. Milder signs of dehydration may include excessive thirst, urination, vomiting, muscle spasms, diarrhea, fluid buildup, and increased heart rate.   

Related: Best Meats for Beef Jerky [Tender & Delicious]

Other Harmful Beef Jerky Ingredients

As mentioned earlier, onions and garlic are popular ingredients used to flavor beef jerky. But these are also on the list of foods your dog should not consume. These are toxic to your dog. Large amounts of either of these vegetables can cause red blood cell destruction in your dog, resulting in anemia. 

Here are some signs your dog has consumed too much onions or garlic:

  • Onion/garlic smell on their breath
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Lethargy
  • Fast breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting

Treatment in Case of Onion or Garlic Consumption

Can I Feed Beef Jerky to My Dog?

If you’re able to find plain jerky, which is plain dried meat for your dog, without the added salt, feel free to give it to your dog. Not only will your dog love it, but it can also be healthy for them. Dried meat provides them with a yummy, high-protein treat. Despite this, they should only have it in moderation.

Can dogs have beef jerky 

Alternatives to Jerky for Your Dog

So, unless you can find plain beef jerky, what can you do? There are alternatives to giving your dog your flavored jerky. Here is a recipe for homemade dog beef jerky treats. 

Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs


  • Lean beef
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Liquid Aminos
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Fish Sauce
  • Ginger Powder
  • Liquid Smoke (Optional)


    • A Dehydrator or your oven on its lowest setting
    • A glass container for marinating (or just a Ziploc bag)
    • In your oven, use baking sheets or cookie sheets with parchment paper


    Using a marinade will make this jerky delicious for you and your dog. The ingredients are low-sodium, with no added sugar. Here are the marinade ingredients: 

    • 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
    • ½ cup liquid aminos (in place of low-sodium, gluten-free soy sauce)
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • A bit of fish sauce
    • A pinch of ginger powder
    • 1 – 2 drops liquid smoke (this is optional)

    Now follow these instructions to prepare,

    1. Mix the marinade (one batch per pound of meat).
    2. Prepare the meat by slicing in thin uniform sized pieces.
    3. Put beef in the marinade for 4 – 24 hours.
    4. If using a dehydrator: preheat it to 160 degrees F.
    5. If using an oven: preheat to 160 degrees or your lowest setting.
    6. Pat marinated meat dry with a paper towel.
    7. Place meat on trays, leaving space between slices for airflow. 
    8. In a dehydrator, leave enough space between each tray.
    9. Set your timer for 4 hours in a dehydrator.
    10. Set your timer for 3 hours in an oven.

    You’ll know when the jerky is done when it appears shrunken (by at least half), dark-colored, bendable, and completely dry. When it’s cool, store it in an airtight container

    Related: How Long Does Beef Jerky Last? Shelf Life & Storing Tips

    Final Thoughts on Dogs and Jerky

    It may be hard to resist giving in to your dog’s begging when you’re eating beef jerky, but it may be the right thing to do. Unless the jerky you want to feed them is without salt and other spices, that tasty treat may be toxic to your furry friend. So, read the labels on your jerky and know what you’re feeding your dog, or consider making your own. 

    — Update: 09-02-2023 — found an additional article Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky? What You Need To Know from the website for the keyword can dogs have beef jerky.

    It’s meat, so it must be safe, right? If you have ever wondered, “can dogs eat beef jerky?” then this guide is for you – keep reading!

    There are so many questions about beef jerky and our four-legged friends. This guide will share information about the most popular types of beef jerky and how safe (or not) they are for your dog.

    Can dogs have beef jerky

    For ultimate pet safety, I recommend consulting with your vet about all the questions you have about your dog eating beef jerky.

    FYI – This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?

    Can dogs have beef jerky
    Zephyr wondering about beef jerky.

    Yes, dogs can safely eat beef jerky as long as it is from a single protein source and doesn’t have too much salt or other ingredients. The safest option is to make it yourself. The most basic beef jerky is going to be the best thing for them. Anything flavored will prove problematic for your pet.

    Basically, dogs can safely eat meat. They can not eat too much salt, spicy foods, any xylitol or garlic, and some dogs are sensitive to gluten. If the jerky has any of those ingredients, keep it away from your dog.

    So, can dogs have beef jerky? The real answer is, it depends on what is in it. Yes, dogs can have beef jerky – and most will probably eat it up like it’s the best treat in the entire world! But you need to be very careful with what is on it.

    Read more  Dog Vomiting Bile: Why & What To Do

    Let’s look at this human snack a lot closer and what dogs and beef jerky go together.

    Is Beef Jerky Good For Dogs?

    As long as the dried meat is plain and without too much added salt or sugar, beef jerky can be a healthy treat for your pet. Since plain beef jerky is basically just dehydrated meat, it’s good for them.

    Dogs thrive on a diet that is high in protein and nutrients and dried meat can be a healthy part of their diet – but only in moderation.

    Is Beef Jerky Bad For Dogs?

    Yes, some kinds of beef jerky are bad or unsafe for dogs. The added spices and flavors are what could be potentially dangerous for dogs.

    These are the list of spices you should not let your dog eat:

    • Garlic
    • Onion
    • Salt (in moderation)
    • Xylitol
    • Black Pepper
    • Spicy Flavors

    There are so many store-bought flavors that are dangerous for dogs, that’s its best to either make it yourself or just buy them a beef jerky treat that is made specifically for canines.

    Can I Give My Dog Beef Jerky?

    Yes, you can give your dog beef jerky as long as you read the label very closely. Most beef jerky that is made for humans has ingredients that are unsafe for dogs.

    The best and safest idea is to either make the beef jerky yourself or give them beef jerky treats that are made for dogs.

    What To Do If My Dog Ate Beef Jerky

    The most common side effects of eating spices they shouldn’t is going to be an upset stomach. Your dog might vomit or have diarrhea. Make sure they drink plenty of water and watch for signs of dehydration like lethargy or weakness.

    Your dog will probably be just fine but you should talk to your veterinarian if you are worried that your dog ate beef jerky that has unsafe ingredients on it.

    Dogs And Beef Jerky: Different Kinds

    Now let’s look at all the most popular brands of beef jerky for humans. I’ll go through each of them and answer the question, “can dogs eat jerky” for each one since they are all made differently.

    Can dogs have beef jerky

    Can Dogs Eat Pacific Gold Beef Jerky

    Do not let your dog eat Pacific Gold beef jerky. One serving has a whopping 640 mg of sodium in it – that’s way higher than the 10mg dogs can safely eat.

    Even the “original” flavor is made with both garlic powder and onion powder. This is unsafe for your pet, keep it away from them.

    Can Dogs Eat Jack Link’s Beef Jerky

    Do not let your dog eat Jack Link’s beef jerky either. This is another brand that uses way too much salt and other unsafe spices (like garlic powder).

    Sure we humans enjoy it, but that much salt could be very dangerous for your dog.

    Can Dogs Eat Natural Beef Jerky

    Dogs can safely eat natural beef jerky without any additional sugar, very low sodium, and no added spices. Read the labels before you give your dog any of it as a rare treat.

    One tiny bite probably won’t harm your pet, but it’s best to be very cautious.

    Can Dogs Eat Regular Beef Jerky

    Yes, dogs can eat regular beef jerky as long as it doesn’t have any garlic or onion. Read the labels and make sure it is as plain as possible and low in salt.

    Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky Sticks

    Dogs can safely eat a small amount of beef jerky sticks. You just have to be very careful about how they are seasoned. Beef jerky sticks tend to be high in salt, so make sure you don’t give them a lot at once.

    Can Dogs Eat Peppered Beef Jerky

    Can dogs have beef jerky

    No, dogs should not eat peppered beef jerky. If they eat a small amount, it probably won’t hurt them. But it could irritate their eyes or throat, so it is a good idea to keep it away from them.

    Can Dogs Eat Spicy Beef Jerky

    Dogs should not eat spicy beef jerky. Any kind of spicy food is bad for your dog’s stomach. Do not let your dog eat spicy beef jerky.

    Can Dogs Eat Teriyaki Beef Jerky

    One of the main ingredients in teriyaki beef jerky is corn syrup or sugar. Dogs should not eat anything with added sugars in it because it can lead to weight gain and other related health effects. It’s best to just keep teriyaki beef jerky away from your pet.

    Can Dogs Eat Turkey Jerky

    Yes, dogs can have turkey jerky. Just make sure it doesn’t have added sugars, onion, garlic, or anything really spicy in it.

    Jerky For Dogs Recipe

    It’s actually really easy to make homemade dog jerky treats.

    I also really like this homemade beef jerky for dogs recipe from What Great Grandma Ate. Your dogs will love it too!

    Beef Jerky Dog Treats

    When you buy beef jerky dog treats, make sure they are made for dogs. These are some of my top picks:

    Final Thoughts

    Since dogs need to eat a diet high in protein, beef jerky is an excellent thing to let them eat. Make your own plain beef jerky at home or buy beef jerky dog treats.

    Beef jerky made for humans often has unsafe spices or too much sugar in it for dogs to safely eat.

    More Dog Food Resources

    Here are some articles about other human foods and whether they are safe or toxic for your dog to eat.

    • Can Dogs Eat Graham Crackers
    • Can Dogs Eat Mustard
    • Can Dogs Eat Pancakes
    • Can Dogs Eat Quinoa
    • Can Dogs Eat Rib Bones
    • Can Dogs Eat Roast Beef
    • Can Dogs Eat Tofu

    Find even more articles on human food dogs can and can’t eat here on Spoiled Hounds!

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