Can I Give My Dog Beef Jerky?

Can I Give My Dog Beef Jerky?Beef Jerky is a snack that’s gotten lots of bad press. Premature dog deaths have been linked to some of these meaty pet products. Is this type of food really that unsafe for Fido?

The FDA says this popular snack can be dangerous for dogs. Dried beef jerky, that’s made for human consumption, is likely safer compared to any questionably sourced pet-grade treats.

Let’s set the record straight before you start giving the family dog any beef jerky snacks. Our opinion is very clear when it comes to this canine controversy.

Can I Give My Dog Beef Jerky? Answer: No, see recent FDA information

Thousands of dogs have been sickened and many have died!

This devastating news has made us steer clear of most beef jerky brands. If you provide some to your dog, make sure it’s naturally prepared without spices. Commercial beef jerky, especially if manufactured in China, could be very unsafe and even fatal. Even most higher quality kinds are often loaded with chemical treatments that may be toxic for pets.

The reasonable alternative is an excellent USA-made grain-free product called Wellness Pure Rewards.

Spicy Beef Jerky Treats

Most dogs like the taste and chewy qualities of beef jerky, so owners have long used it as a treat or reward during training. If you still plan to use jerky, at the very least make sure it’s not spicy. Sometimes you can remove spices by washing the beef jerky under running water. Unfortunately, the manufacturing process may involve a curing and marinating technique. It may be impossible to get rid of spices.

This is one reason why we don’t recommend regular store-bought beef jerky. Most likely it’s safe, but we err on the side of caution. 

Store vs. Homemade Jerky

Beef jerky is delicious since it’s loaded up with, again, lots of spices. The beef is treated with an intensely salty solution and preservatives prolong shelf life. Garlic, onion powder and pepper may be included in the recipe all of which are potentially harmful. Most dog owners know this but it’s a sight unseen. Homemade beef jerky is best. You’ll know exactly what ingredients are in your best buddy’s dried meat snacks.

A much easier way is to get quality beef jerky treats made for specifically 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 dangerous so be careful. If you are already dealing with such a situation, depending on the severity, your dog may need urgent veterinary care. This is especially true if the vomiting and diarrhea are uncontrolled. Dehydration is also a real concern.

Feeding your dog an uncontrolled amount of any type of meat products can cause stomachaches or worse. Even if everything goes relatively well, they may still experience increased gas or diarrhea.

Upset Stomach Remedies

Dogs can be given an antacid for gas or stomach rumbling, but 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.

Just be sure to use a proper dose, as instructed by a vet, since dosage for humans and dogs can be quite different. Cases of severe food poisoning should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible.

Conclusion on Beef Jerky

Dogs love beef jerky treats but they should be given with an abundance of caution. High levels of salt, preservatives and spices make this snack questionable. Some brands, especially those made in China, have killed many dogs and seriously sickened many more. Toxicity is a real concern so make your own or buy quality USA-made pet-friendly beef jerky. This food is used as a treat, or for training purposes, but not all of these jerky products are safe for dogs.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

MB May, 2016

The cited article doesn’t mention human beef jerky, only special dog jerky from China. Further, the necropsies showed most causes of death to be clearly unrelated to jerky. The problem population seems to be dogs that are genetically susceptible to Fanconi’s syndrome of the kidney.


Soledad March, 2016

My Shih Tzu puppy ate a beef jerky stick and as a request she has been vomiting. Now she’s laying down after I gave her an antacid in her water. Let’s see if she gets better.


Evelyn December, 2015

I have an 11 1/2 year old Whippet weighing about 45 to 50 pounds. He has gotten into a large bag of home-made peppered beef jerky. He is not acting sick. Should I be concerned?


Eddie April, 2015

I gave up on pet store jerky treats. The chicken and duck treats are hard as a rock. My Pug tried to swallow them whole, choking on them every time. I threw them away and never looked back. We have a beef jerky store nearby that sells dog beef jerky which my dog loves. Actually, humans can eat the dog treats because they’re all natural and all beef. Of course, they are made without spices, for dogs.

My Pug, 3 1/2 years old, loves human beef jerky. I buy the original or traditional style that has as few spices as possible. She gets no teriyaki or spice-flavored human jerky. I don’t want to upset her stomach. She’s been eating small bites of jerky several times a day for more than a year now and has suffered no negative health effects from it. I plan to make my own jerky at home pretty soon so I can make sure they have only beef in them.

My pet dog is the daughter that I never had. She is spoiled like a 2-year old child, all day and night, she gets pampered. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope everyone’s dogs are safe. I am sorry to hear about the injuries and deaths to your furry family members due to eating jerky treats.


Nikki December, 2014

I gave my dog 3 pieces of butterball turkey jerky yesterday. He was so happy, but today he is dead.


Gigi April, 2015

I am so sorry for your loss.


Javed November, 2014

We have an 11 year old Shih Tzu weighing 14 pounds. He has been eating chicken jerky treats, made in the USA not China, for several years now. Two days ago one half of the 3 inch long treat got stuck in his throat which we managed to pull out, in the process maybe scratching his throat. Since then he refuses to eat his normal soft food, but has drunk water twice a day. He does not have fever, is not vomiting and has pooped normal stools twice. Can we do anything to help him eat? Thanks for the help.


Bridgett December, 2014

I’m guessing you gave him the jerky made for dogs. That stuff is hard and I could see how it would scratch his throat. Hopefully by now he has started eating again. But the only thing I could think of is to maybe try liquefying this food for a little while. If not, I’m hoping you took him to the vet.


Marie October, 2014

Can homemade beef jerky made with soy sauce be harmful to my Saint Bernese dog?


Max February, 2014

Could I give my dog home-made beef jerky?


Terence February, 2014

Hi Max. You can give your dog homemade beef jerky. However, make sure that you monitor the ingredients that go into the preparation of the dried meat. No spices!


Frank Smith January, 2013

I make a lot of jerky and I just started making it for my dog. I make it using deer, squirrel, wild turkey and store bought chicken. Sometimes with store bought turkey and ground beef. I usually use two to three different kinds of these meats to make different jerky.

I use store bought seasoning and cure and I always add one tablespoon of seasoning and one tablespoon of cure to a pound of ground meat and let it dry for six hours at 140 degrees. I have an Excalibur dryer. Is this too much cure for my dog? The jerky is only used for a treat. A piece about four inches long given once a day. Thanks!


Anna November, 2012

If you are extremely cautious, use jerky dog treats. My dog loves the duck kind because he cannot have beef or chicken.


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