Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?

May 05, 2021 3 min read
dog sitting next to a bag of dog treats on a deck

Is it safe for your dog to eat beef jerky? While jerky made for humans seems like it would make a good dog treat, there are many reasons it can be dangerous for your pet. The ingredients and potential hazards are just some of the reasons why you shouldn’t feed your dog beef jerky. Instead, you should only feed your dogs jerky treats made specifically for them.

Why is beef jerky bad for dogs?

Beef jerky is a great snack for humans. It’s lean protein, easy to store, and great for hiking and outdoor activities. However, the beef jerky you might find in a grocery store should NOT be fed to your pet. Some of the biggest reasons to avoid giving your dog beef jerky are:

1. The Ingredients

Many beef jerky packages contain spices that can make your dog sick. Did you know dogs can’t eat garlic, onions, and certain nuts? Lots of beef jerky flavors contain onion powder, nutmeg, and garlic powder as part of the seasoning. While the amount of toxins actually ingested would likely not be enough to cause a serious or life-threatening emergency, it could be enough for your dog to get sick.

Many dog owners forget to check the ingredients label before giving their dogs a treat, especially if they appear harmless. Reading up on what foods to avoid can save you a trip to the vet or a sick orvomiting dog. It’s better to be safe than sorry – skip the beef jerky.

2. High Sodium

In general, dogs should avoid foods with high levels of sodium. While some sodium is an important part of a healthy diet, too much can become a health hazard. Too much sodium causes increased blood pressure and can lead to kidney problems or heart disease. Beef jerky has very high levels of sodium. In fact, one ounce of beef jerky has fivetimes the recommendeddaily amount of sodium for a 33-pound dog! If your dog ingests a lot of beef jerky, they can become sick and require medical attention. Avoid giving your dog beef jerky and other high-sodium foods.

3. Silica Gel Packets

Almost all packages of beef jerky contain silica gel packets to maintain freshness and keep the packages from becoming too moist. You’ve probably seen these packets in many different products before, ranging from food to clothes, shoes, and more. They are small, white packets no bigger than a packet of sugar.

Silica gel is toxic for people and animals, and the packets come with warning labels that say, “Silica Gel – Do Not Consume.” However, if the packet is in the bag of beef jerky it may smell just like food to your dog. If your dog eats one of these packets, they may experience gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Depending on the amount consumed, this could require an emergency trip to the vet. Avoid giving your dog beef jerky or storing beef jerky in a place where your dog could get into the package and accidentally eat silica gel.

What is a safe alternative to beef jerky?

Instead of giving your dog a piece of your beef jerky, find products specifically made for dogs. Beef jerky for dogs has all of the benefits of beef jerky – lean protein that’s good for joint health and easy to store – but doesn’t pose as a health risk for your dog.

Beef jerky treats for dogs are lower sodium and do not contain seasoning that will make your dog sick. These packages may still contain silica gel packets to control moisture levels, so ensure the packaging is kept out of reach of your pet. Beef jerky dog treats contain chondroitin and glucosamine, which are good for your dog’s joints. They are also high in protein and easy for your dog to digest. Use these jerky treats as an incentive while training or as a reward after a long day after the dog park.


Wondering what other chews are safe for your pet? Check out our blog post on if rawhide is safe for dogs. And to browse a selection some of the best treats and chews, check out our website.

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