Beef jerky is a dried and salted beef snack that is sometimes used as a treat for dogs. We all know beef is good for dogs. In fact, it is an excellent addition to a dog’s diet because it is rich in essential amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. But what about the salt in jerky treats? Read more about the pros and cons of giving beef jerky to canines.
Can Dogs Have Beef Jerky?
Technically, yes. Dogs can eat beef jerky since it does not contain ingredients that are toxic to them. However, it should only be on occasion and in minimal amounts. Just like any preserved or dried meat, beef jerky may contain lots of additives that could harm dog in the long run.
The first concern we see here is the amount of salt in beef jerky. Jerky treats contain salt so it is shelf-stable. The salt binds with water and hauls down the water’s activity and it stops the growth of microbes preventing the beef from going bad.
Did you know that a 30-gram serving of jerky contains as much as 600 mg of sodium? That amount is six times more than the allowed sodium for dogs per day. The Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources suggest that healthy dogs weighing 33 pounds should ingest no more than 100 mg of sodium per day.
Dogs need sodium because this essential mineral is responsible for preventing cells from swelling or dehydrating. It also plays a role in normal growth and development. However, excessive amounts of sodium can lead to increased thirst and water consumption. Dogs discharge the extra sodium through their urine.
Meanwhile, dogs with liver and kidney diseases should be restricted from sodium and the vets usually recommend decreasing a dog’s sodium intake. When a dog is suffering from a declining liver, the salt intake should be monitored to ensure that he will not retain any extra fluid.
Again, only give your dog beef jerky in small portions. Too much of the jerky treats could make your pet ill because of their sodium content. Salt poisoning in dogs is a serious issue that should not be taken lightly. Here are the symptoms of salt poisoning in canines:
- Lethargy/ lack of energy
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
What if a dog accidentally consumed a lot of beef jerky and displayed the symptoms mentioned above? In such cases, the best thing to do is call a vet or an animal poison control service. If dog has not received any treatment yet, you could help settle his stomach by administering one of these medications:
- Prisolec – 0.25 mg per pound for every 24 hours
- Zantac – 25 to 1 mg per pound every 8 to 12 hours
- Pepcid – 25 to 0.50 mg per pound every 12 hours
An important reminder for dog owners: These drugs are vet-approved but all of them should be used with care. Acid reducers should not be administered to pregnant and nursing dogs, as well as to those with liver and kidney diseases.
Is Beef Jerky Bad for Dogs?
In order to answer that, we need to know what’s in every serving of beef jerky. An ounce of beef jerky, which is approximately the size of a slice of cheese, has around 107 calories. There’s also 34 mg of cholesterol, 3.2 grams of fat, 2.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of protein in it.
As you can see, that’s a lot of cholesterol. Dogs with high cholesterol problems should not have jerky as a treat. Also referred to as hyperlipidemia, high cholesterol in canines is characterized by fatty deposits under the skin. Your dog could also have a decreased appetite, seizures, itching, and a bloated abdomen.
Important Reminders for Dog Owners
When buying jerky pet treats, check the labels and look into the manufacturer’s information. It’s much better if you can reach out to them online and see if they display all the information about their products on their page. Read online reviews and see how many pet owners actually purchase the product.
If you can recall, thousands of pets died in 2007 after eating jerky contaminated with melamine. The melamine, which was used to boost the protein content of the jerky, caused kidney failure in dogs.
This is the reason why the US Food and Drug Administration warned pet owners regarding the dangers of jerky pet treats. The FDA continues to remind pet owners that jerky is not required for a dog’s balanced diet.
There are pet owners who make homemade beef jerky for their pets. It seems like a good idea but you actually need to spend 12 hours for the cooking time.
Come on, let’s face it, not everyone has the time to cook and not everyone has the proper equipment to do it. But if you have the patience, the luxury of time, and a dehydrator, you can give it a try. Just take a look at the healthy versions of jerky treats below.
Healthy Beef Jerky Recipes
If you want to give your dog beef as a treat, take note that there are a lot of things you can make out of beef other than jerky. But if you’re really eager to give your dog jerky, here are ways to do it the more wholesome way:
Guilt-Free Beef Jerky
This dish is not really hard to make since all you have to do is marinade the beef with all the ingredients. Still, you need to be patient when waiting since it takes time to marinate and dehydrate.
- In a zip-top bag, place the top round beef. Make sure the meat is already free from any excess fat.
- Freeze for one to two hours. Once the meat is chilled, remove it from the freezer.
- Slice it into long stripes, around two inches long.
- Place the meat in a deep pan.
- Add in 2/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 2/3 cup of soy cause, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of liquid smoke, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and a teaspoon of dry mustard.
- Refrigerate for up to six hours.
- Dehydrate the meat for up to eight hours.
Homemade Organic Grass-Fed Beef Jerky
When a beef is labeled “organic grass-fed” it means it came from cows that had been exclusively fed grass. The cows only grazed in the pastures and did not have grains in their diets. You could find online stores selling organic grass-fed beef. This is a lot more expensive than the regular beef but it is worth the price especially if you want to tweak your diet.
- Partially freeze around one to pounds of flank steak. Doing so makes it easier to cut the meat into thin strips. Let it sit in the fridge for around 40 minutes before marinating it.
- Once it has frozen a bit, cut it into 1/8 inch strips.
- Place the meat in a large mixing bowl. Add in Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of raw honey, a tablespoon of liquid smoke, and a teaspoon of paprika. The original recipe also calls for 2 tablespoons of black pepper and 2 teaspoons of onion powder. You may omit those for your dog’s portion and just include them for your own consumption.
- Combine everything well and refrigerate for three hours.
- Dehydrate at 165°F for 4 hours.
Beef jerky is a safe treat for dogs. Just make sure you give it in small amounts because it is too salty for dogs. If you are eager to share some beef jerky with your dog, better make your own at home. That way, you get to control the sodium amount in it.