What To Do If Your Dog Ate Beef Jerky – A Helpful Guide

Beef jerky makes for a tasty snack for humans. But what happens when your dog gets into the jerky stash and helps themselves to a few pieces?

Beef jerky may seem like a harmless treat, but it can actually cause health issues for dogs if they eat too much. This article provides a complete guide on what to do if your dog ate beef jerky, including signs of trouble, when to seek veterinary help, and tips to prevent jerky theft in the future.

Can Dogs Eat Beef Jerky?

Before diving into what to do if they’ve eaten jerky, it helps to understand whether dogs can eat beef jerky in the first place.

The answer is yes, in moderation beef jerky can be an occasional snack for dogs. Many pet brands make jerky formulated for dogs with digestible beef and added vitamins.

However, there are a few important caveats to keep in mind:

  • Regular beef jerky made for humans contains much more salt than dog treats. Excessive salt can cause gastrointestinal upset, dehydration, and even sodium ion poisoning in dogs.

  • Spicy seasonings like black pepper and chili powder may irritate a dog’s stomach.

  • Some artificial preservatives used in jerky should be avoided for dogs.

  • Hard, dried jerky can pose a choking hazard for dogs, especially if they gulp large pieces.

So while beef jerky won’t necessarily make a dog sick if they sneak a piece, it shouldn’t become a regular part of their diet. Stick to small amounts of plain, low-sodium jerky made for canine consumption.

Signs Your Dog Ate Too Much Beef Jerky

If you discover missing jerky and suspect your dog got into the stash, be on the lookout for these signs of trouble:

  • Excessive thirst or urination: Too much sodium causes dogs to get thirsty and pee more.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea: Beef jerky may irritate the digestive tract, causing stomach upset.

  • Lethargy: Dogs may become fatigued or weak if dehydrated from fluid loss.

  • Loss of coordination: In severe cases, sodium ion poisoning impacts the nervous system.

  • Choking or coughing: Check your dog’s mouth for stuck pieces of jerky.

If you notice any concerning symptoms after your dog ate beef jerky, call your vet right away. Prompt treatment is key for preventing serious complications.

What to Do If Your Dog Ate Beef Jerky

If your dog got into some beef jerky, here are some smart steps to take:

  • Determine how much they ate. The more they consumed, the higher the risks. Even small amounts of spicy jerky can cause issues.

  • Check the jerky ingredients. Look for high sodium, artificial preservatives (like xylitol), and irritating spices.

  • Call your vet. Describe what and how much your dog ate and any symptoms. They’ll advise you based on your dog’s size and health history.

  • Monitor your dog. Watch closely for signs of vomiting, diarrhea, choking, increased thirst/urination or lethargy. Call your vet promptly if you see anything worrisome.

  • Limit exercise. Restrict activity to leash walks only to prevent sodium loss through exertion.

  • Provide plenty of fresh water. Help your dog rehydrate. Offer water in a bowl every few hours.

  • Offer bland foods. Go easy on food for 12-24 hours. Stick to small portions of boiled chicken and rice until symptoms resolve.

With prompt action, your vet can help assess risk factors and determine if your dog requires medication, IV fluids or other treatment to recover from a jerky snack gone wrong.

When to Take Your Dog to the Vet After Eating Beef Jerky

In mild cases, you may be able to treat your dog at home with rest, hydration and bland foods. But contact your vet promptly if you notice:

  • Repeated vomiting or diarrhea
  • Signs of choking
  • Persistent lethargy, weakness or wobbliness
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Loss of appetite for more than 24 hours

Emergency veterinary care is crucial if your dog has jerky stuck in their throat, or shows signs of sodium ion poisoning like muscle tremors or seizures.

Don’t wait “to see if they’ll be okay.” Rapid treatment maximizes the chances of a full recovery.

Long-Term Outlook for Dogs Who Ate Beef Jerky

The prognosis is generally good for dogs who ate beef jerky if treated promptly before severe sodium poisoning develops.

With aggressive IV fluid therapy, dogs can recover within 24-48 hours in uncomplicated cases. Serious cases involving choking, organ damage or seizures may require hospitalization.

Discuss home monitoring with your vet in case of delayed issues. Avoid jerky for dogs prone to pancreatitis or kidney problems.

The most important thing is to get veterinary care at the first signs of trouble after your dog ate too much salty, seasoned jerky.

How to Keep Dogs Out of the Beef Jerky

The best solution is keeping jerky safely out of paw’s reach. Here are some tips to store it away from your thieving canine:

  • Place jerky in high cabinets or pantries dogs cannot access.

  • Buy commercially sealed bags rather than loose bulk bins at stores.

  • Always reseal opened bags tightly.

  • Store jerky in containers with locking lids.

  • Never leave jerky unattended on tables or countertops.

  • Crate dogs when you’re away to limit roaming and scavenging.

  • Use baby gates to block off rooms where jerky is stored.

  • Consider free-feeding dogs so they’re less driven to steal food.

With smart storage and management, you can safely enjoy jerky without putting your dog at risk. Monitor intake if you plan to share small amounts of dog-safe jerky with your pup.


If your dog helped themselves to your beef jerky stash, stay vigilant for signs of intestinal upset, dehydration or sodium poisoning. Prompt veterinary care helps prevent serious complications and aids recovery.

In the future, keep all jerky well out of your dog’s reach and stick to pet-safe chews. With some common sense precautions, you and your dog can avoid scary jerky experiences going forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much beef jerky is dangerous for a dog?

Even a small amount of highly seasoned jerky can cause issues if a dog is salt sensitive. Consult your vet, but a good general guideline is no more than 1 ounce of plain jerky per day for a large dog.

Will my dog be okay if he only ate a few pieces of jerky?

If it was just a small amount of plain jerky, your dog will likely be fine with access to fresh water. But look for signs of vomiting, fatigue or thirst which can indicate a problem. Call your vet with any concerns.

Can dogs have teriyaki beef jerky?

Jerky with teriyaki or other salty, spicy seasonings often contains too much sodium for dogs. Go for plain low-sodium jerky made for canine consumption only.

How long after eating jerky would a dog get sick?

Problems like vomiting or diarrhea may start within 2-12 hours of ingestion. Signs of sodium poisoning may not show up for 12-24 hours or more. Monitor your dog closely for at least 48 hours.

Can I make my own homemade beef jerky for dogs?

Yes, dehydrating lean beef into jerky for dogs is a healthier option. Avoid added salt and spices. Slice meat thinly and dry it completely at 160°F. Refrigerate for storage up to 2 weeks.

Easy and Healthy Dog Beef Jerky


How much beef jerky is too much for a dog?

Originally Answered: Is beef jerky bad for dogs? In small amounts, given infrequently, no. It has way too much salt, usually, but a piece the size of a quarter or smaller, given as a rare treat (with access to plenty of water) is fine.

What happens if a dog eats beef jerky packet?

A: Elemental iron can cause severe poisoning, even in the small amounts contained in one oxygen absorber packet. It is very irritating to the GI tract and has direct corrosive effects. After ingestion, vomiting (with or without blood) is one of the first signs of poisoning.

Is jerky hard for dogs to digest?

Anything that is highly processed is never good for you or your dog, and that applies to jerky as well. Jerky that has a lot of preservatives, spices, added flavors or pepper will almost certainly upset your dog’s stomach. The biggest issue with feeding jerky to your dog, however, revolves around the sodium levels.

Can dogs eat Jack Link’s beef jerky?

After digging into the ingredients and consulting some reliable sources, I’ve reached the conclusion that Jack Link’s beef jerky isn’t the ideal treat for our canine buddies. While it’s a mouthwatering delight for us, this brand packs in an abundance of salt and some not-so-dog-friendly spices, like garlic powder.

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