Does your canine buddy like jerky treats? If so, make a note to get him some this week. June 12th is Jerky Day! It’s also Red Rose Day, World Gin Day, and National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, but we’ll stick to the one most relevant to our patients: jerky. A local veterinarian discusses this doggy favorite below.
Jerky has been around for thousands of years. In fact, making jerky is one of the oldest known methods of preserving meat. The word jerky actually originated in the Andes region, and is derived from the Quechua word ch’arki . As you may know, jerky is made by dehydrating meat, usually by cooking it at a low temperature for several hours. The process of drying meat makes it resistant to the bacteria that would otherwise cause it to spoil. It also makes it taste delicious! Jerky is still a popular snack, and is a favorite among campers, hikers, and hunters. Needless to say, Man’s Best Friend is also a big fan.
A quick look at any pet store–or even just the pet food aisle of a grocery market–is all it takes to see jerky is a pretty popular product. Of course, when it comes to giving Fido treats, health and safety should always be the concern. Jerky is quite safe and nutritious, and can actually be a great snack. However, you should never give Fido jerkies that contain a lot of salt or spices. Brands that were made for people are also unsuitable, as these may have been marinated in things like garlic or onions, which aren’t safe for dogs.
It’s worth noting that the FDA has received complaints about jerky making pets sick in the past. There were several problems with this back in 2012. Nearly all of the problematic brands were imported from overseas. If you want to err on the side of caution, read the labels, and stick with US-made products. It’s also not a bad idea to monitor pet food recalls. You can do that on the FDA site here or the AMVA site here . Or, set up some email alerts. Ask your vet for more information.
Why not make Fido’s jerky? Specific instructions and cook times will vary a bit, depending on what type of meat you’re using, but the basic gist is always the same. Start by slicing meat into thin strips. You can use lean beef, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, white fish, salmon, lamb, or mutton. You can even use game meat, like deer or rabbit. However, the FDA recommends freezing it first, to ensure that it’s free of harmful parasites and bacteria. Put your oven on the lowest setting, and put the meat strips onto baking sheets or racks. You’ll need to cook it for several hours: the exact time will depend on the type and thickness of the meat. You can also use a dehydrator. Check online for specific instructions.
Do you have questions about your dog’s diet or care? Contact us, your veterinary clinic, today!