To Chew or Not to Chew: Can Dogs Eat Jerky Safely?

To Chew or Not to Chew: Can Dogs Eat Jerky Safely?

Posted by volhard dog nutrition on Jun 17th 2024

Dogs and meat go together like peanut butter and jelly. Our canine companions naturally love all things meaty, so it's no surprise they go wild for jerky.

But can dried meat be a delicious option for your pup? We'll tell you what to watch out for to keep them safe and healthy. Whether you're considering store-bought options or making your own, we've got the scoop on jerky for dogs.

dog looking at jerky

Can Dogs Eat Human-Grade Jerky?

Dogs naturally love meat, making jerky a tempting treat for our furry friends. But can dogs eat human-grade jerky safely? The answer is yes, but with caution.

Human-grade jerky often contains high sodium levels and other additives that can harm dogs.

When considering giving your dog jerky, opt for plain, single-ingredient jerky made from lean meats such as beef or chicken. Avoid flavored varieties like teriyaki beef jerky or spicy beef jerky, as they often contain garlic powder, onion powder, and other toxic ingredients for dogs. Always check the ingredient list and ensure no harmful additives are present before offering jerky to your pet.

What Makes Jerky Potentially Dangerous for Dogs?

The Danger of High Sodium Content in Dog Food

Numerous meat products for human consumption contain excessive salt, which can lead to sodium ion poisoning in dogs. High sodium content may cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and even seizures. This is especially concerning for small dogs, as their smaller bodies struggle with large quantities of salt.

When feeding your dog jerky, choose products with low salt content to avoid these adverse reactions. Always do your homework and select jerky from reputable sources to ensure it is safe for your dog's diet.

Artificial Sweeteners and Flavors in Beef Jerky

Another concern with giving dogs beef jerky is the presence of artificial sweeteners and flavors. Toxic ingredients like xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in some beef jerky products, can cause severe health issues, including hypoglycemia and liver failure.

Flavored beef jerky often contains artificial ingredients and harmful spices that can upset your dog's digestive system. Stick to plain or homemade beef jerky to ensure your dog enjoys a safe snack.

How Often Should Dogs Eat Jerky Treats?

Jerky treats, whether plain beef jerky, flavored beef jerky or homemade jerky, should be an occasional treat rather than a regular part of your dog's diet.

Aim to feed your dog jerky treats at most once or twice weekly to avoid the risk of consuming excessive salt or harmful ingredients.

When giving your dog jerky, keep portions small. This is particularly important for small dogs, as they are more susceptible to the adverse effects of high sodium content and other additives found in human-grade beef jerky.

Choosing the Right Jerky for Your Dog

How to choose jerky for dogs

  • Avoid Excessive Salt: Many human beef jerky products contain too much salt, which can harm your dog's health. Look for jerky with low sodium content to avoid adverse reactions.
  • Check for Harmful Ingredients: Avoid jerky containing onion powder, soy sauce, and artificial sweeteners. Also, avoid spiced and flavored beef jerky.
  • Opt for Natural Ingredients: Choose jerky from lean beef or other single-sourced proteins. Avoid teriyaki beef jerky and spiced beef jerky. Grass-fed beef jerky is an excellent option as it is typically free from harmful additives and preservatives.
  • Read Labels Carefully: Look for jerky labeled as safe for dogs or intended for human consumption but with simple, natural ingredients.

3 Homemade Jerky Recipes for Dogs

These homemade jerky treats—either prepared in a dehydrator or cooked in the oven—are free from harmful ingredients and provide a healthy, high-protein snack for your dog. To keep it fresh, always store homemade jerky in an airtight container.

Beef Jerky

Ingredients: Lean beef, sliced thin.


  1. Preheat your oven to 200°F.
  2. Place the beef slices on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 hours until dried.
  3. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Chicken Jerky

Ingredients: Chicken breast, sliced thin.


  1. Preheat your oven to 200°F.
  2. Arrange the chicken slices on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 hours until thoroughly dried.
  3. Let it cool before feeding it to your dog.

Turkey Jerky

Ingredients: Turkey breast, sliced thin.


  1. Preheat your oven to 200°F.
  2. Lay the turkey slices on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 hours until dried.
  3. Cool completely before serving.

Exploring 3 Alternatives to Beef Jerky

Alternatives to beef jerky

While store-bought beef jerky can be a tasty dog treat, several other nutritious options might be better suited for your furry friend.

Here are three healthy alternatives to consider:

Volhard Liver Treats

Volhard Liver Treats are made from high-quality liver, providing a rich source of protein and essential nutrients. These treats are an excellent alternative to beef jerky, offering a similar chewy texture that dogs love.

The liver is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, iron, and zinc, which support your dog's overall health and immune system. These treats are also free from artificial flavors and preservatives, making them a safe choice for your dog's diet.

These treats can be used as a reward during training sessions or as an occasional snack. Their nutrient density makes them an ideal supplement to your dog's diet.

Polkadog Bakery Alaskan Salmon Chips

Polkadog Bakery Alaskan Salmon Chips are a crunchy and flavorful alternative to traditional beef jerky. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your dog's skin and coat health.

Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, promote a shiny coat, and support heart health. These treats are also low in calories, making them an excellent option for dogs that need to watch their weight.

Salmon chips can be given as a daily treat or broken into smaller pieces for training rewards. Their crunchy texture helps clean your dog's teeth and gums.

Polkadog Bakery Atlantic Silverside

Polkadog Bakery Atlantic Silverside treats are a great alternative to beef jerky, providing a different protein source that dogs find irresistible.

Silverside fish are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, supporting muscle development and overall health. These treats are also free from artificial additives and preservatives, ensuring a natural and healthy snack for your dog.

Atlantic Silverside treats can be used as a standalone snack or a high-value training reward. Their crunchy texture also aids dental health by removing plaque and tartar.

dog eating jerky

Treat Your Pup with Volhard's Safe, Tasty Treat Options!

For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert canine nutrition coaches are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods!

Speaking to a Volhard canine nutrition coach will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind.

If you want to contact one of our Volhard canine nutrition coaches, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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