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 in this article.
Jerky has been around for thousands of years. In fact, making jerky may very well be the oldest known method of preserving meat. The word jerky actually originated in the Andes region, and is derived from the Quechua word ch’arki , which means ‘salted, dried meat.’ The process of drying meat makes it resistant to the bacteria that would otherwise cause it to decay. It also makes it taste delicious! Jerky is still a popular snack, and is a favorite among hikers, campers, and hunters. Man’s Best Bud is also a big fan.
Many of our canine friends love jerky. It’s sort of a combination snack and chew. What’s not to love? Of course, when it comes to giving Fido treats, his health and safety should always be the concern. Jerky is quite safe, and can actually be a great snack. That said, you should never give Fido jerkies that contain a lot of salt or spices, or ones made from dried fruits. Brands that were made for people are also unsuitable. Ask your vet for more information.
You may know that the FDA has received complaints about jerky making pets sick in the past. Most of the products that caused issues were imported from overseas. If you want to err on the side of caution, read the labels and stick with US-made products. You’ll also need to monitor pet food recalls. You can do that on the FDA site here or on the AMVA site here , or by creating email alerts.
Why not make your own jerky? It’s not difficult. Instructions and cook times will vary a bit, depending on what sort of meat you’re using, but the gist is always the same. You can use lean beef, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, white fish, salmon, lamb, or mutton. You can also use game meat, though the FDA recommends freezing it first to ensure that it’s free of parasites and bacteria. Start by slicing meat into thin strips. Put your oven on a low heat 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. Dehydrators will also do the job. Check online for specific instructions.
Do you have questions about your dog’s diet or care? Contact us, your veterinary clinic, today!