On my way home from walking my dogs, I decided to grab a quick salty snack and bought two Slim Jims. As I was munching on them, my pups could smell it and they each wanted a bite. Before sharing my Slim Jims with them, I wondered if this salty snack was safe for doggy consumption.
Can dogs eat Slim Jims? While Slim Jims are not toxic to dogs and dogs can eat Slim Jims, it doesn’t mean that they should. Slim Jims are not the healthiest snack option for your fur babies because they are highly processed and contain artificial additives! If your pooch is in good health and the right weight for her size, then a small piece of Slim Jims as an occasional snack should be fine.
Are Slim Jims bad for dogs?
Yes, Slim Jims are bad for dogs. So while it’s okay to give dogs a Slim Jim treat now and then, it’s not a good idea to make it a habit. Let’s take an in-depth look at what Slim Jims are, what they are made of, and whether you should be sharing them with your canine friends.
What are Slim Jims?
Slim Jims are the “meat sticks” you find on the counters and in the aisles at your local drugstores, gas stations, grocery stores, and other shopping outlets.
They are processed and contain a list of artificial additives. Most of these artificial additives are detrimental to your dog’s health, even in minute quantities.
Slim Jims are everywhere. Not only are they sold in the U.S., but they are also sold globally.
ConAgra is the company behind the brand and they produce over a billion Slim Jim Snacks annually. The factory is based in Ohio.
Although they are marketed as meat snacks, Slim Jims are made primarily of corn, wheat, and an array of animal parts from pigs, cows, poultry, and/or sheep.
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Where do Slim Jims come from?
The brand “Slim Jims” is owned by the agricultural company called ConAgra. It’s not the only brand ConAgra carries. Some brands promote healthy eating but many of the brands sell frozen, pre-prepared foods that are ready to eat.
ConAgra took over Slim Jims in 1998. But Slim Jims have been around since the 1940s.
This thin meat stick snack was developed by Adolf Levis and his partner Joseph Cherry. Initially, they were sold in jars of vinegar to be served in bars and taverns.
Today they are convenient, easy-to-grab snacks for anyone who wants a meaty, savory snack. The umami has an aroma and taste that keeps people wanting more.
Fun Fact: Another human snack that is highly processed is Veggie Straws. Veggie Straws are crunchy, tasty, and colorful. The Can Dogs Eat Veggie Straws article explores whether this snack is safe for canine consumption.
What are Slim Jims made of?
There are over twenty flavors of Slim Jims. These meaty, savory snack sticks come in the following flavors: beef jerky, pork rinds, and turkey jerky. The ingredients below come from the original Slim Jim flavor.
Slim Jim Ingredients List
- Mechanically separated chicken.
- Texturized soy flour.
- Corn syrup.
A Slim Jim Original also contains less than 2% of the following:
- Natural flavors (although many natural flavors are actually synthetic).
- Extraction of paprika.
- Hydrolyzed soy protein.
- Lactic acid starter culture.
- Caramel color.
- Barley malt extract.
- Wheat flour.
- Sodium nitrite.
- Citric acid.
- Soy lecithin.
How Slim Jims are made?
Slim Jims are mass-produced in a factory. As with most processed food, the process to get to the end product is far from glamorous.
The quality of the meat in Slim Jims is much lower than the meat which you’d buy from the butchery department at your nearest store. Similarly, the fruit and vegetables used to make Strawberry Jams, jellies, and canned goods are much lower than if you buy them yourself at the grocery store.
When it comes to Slim Jims, you can never be too sure of the quality of meat or the parts that are used.
The ingredient list clearly states that beef, pork, and mechanically separated chicken are the top three ingredients. So while the consumer is aware that all parts of the chicken are crushed and piped out of the machine, it is not so clear how the pork and beef are prepared.
Additionally, these meaty snacks are made for human consumption. It’s best to keep Slim Jims away from our furry friends. These pre-prepared convenient snack food are loaded with additives and preservatives.
Ingredients in Slim Jims
Let’s briefly pinpoint which ingredients from the ingredient list above are harmful to your pooch.
Bear in mind these are worst-case scenarios and the levels consumed would need to be high to cause adverse effects.
Slim Jims contain corn syrup, maltodextrin, and dextrose. These three add an unnatural amount of sugar to your pup’s diet and can severely affect their liver if they have existing liver disorders.
Additionally, too much sugar in your dog’s diet can lead to obesity and diabetes.
Sodium is essential for our four-legged friends. It keeps the muscular and nervous systems functioning properly.
But the added salt in Slim Jims (or any processed food) is not healthy for dogs because of the large amount of salt in this snack.
Also, one serving (4 sticks) contains 120mg of sodium. A dog that weighs 33 pounds (15kg) can only have 100mg of sodium per day. The maximum amount of sodium a larger dog breed can have per day is 200mg. Too much sodium can also put a strain on their kidneys.
3. Sodium nitrite
Sodium nitrite is a preservative and high doses of it can cause blood disorder and toxicity in dogs.
When sodium nitrite comes into contact with protein it turns into nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic and all processed meat products contain high amounts of sodium nitrite.
Many wet dog foods (cans and pouches) also contain this preservative. As awareness grows, reputable dog food manufacturers are now replacing harmful ingredients with safer alternatives.
Because of the carcinogenic danger, sodium nitrite is now often replaced by potassium nitrite, another type of preservative. Studies show that there are no carcinogenic effects of potassium nitrite.
Fun Fact: Pepperoni is also highly processed and contains high salt content as well as sodium nitrite. Find out which ingredients in Pepperoni are harmful to dogs in our Can Dogs Eat Pepperoni article.
4. Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed soy protein is generally safe for doggy consumption. This is a flavor enhancer that is chemically similar to monosodium glutamate or MSG but without the toxicity of MSG.
If your canine friends have problems digesting other proteins, you can use hydrolyzed soy protein.
Similar to MSG, hydrolyzed soy protein helps to add savory flavor to food and snacks.
Studies have shown that a large amount of MSG is toxic and can lead to the following health problems:
- Neurological disorders.
- Metabolic disorders.
- Reproductive disorders.
As such, processed food manufacturers have had to remove MSG from their food and snack products. And they have done so with hydrolyzed soy protein. This flavor enhancer does the same job as MSG and gives distinct umami to savory snacks.
5. Beef and pork in Slim Jims
If anything, these are the two ingredients that are the least harmful to your pets when they eat Slim Jims.
However, the dog owners do not know how many hormones the animals were given or what type of feed they had either.
So the quality of the beef and pork is dubious and the long-term effects of eating substandard meat cannot be beneficial for our canine friends.
6. Corn, soy, and wheat
Slim Jims also contain soy, corn, and wheat products. It is very rare for dogs to have wheat or gluten allergies. But if they do have these types of allergies, Slim Jims should not be given as snacks as they may cause itchy skin.
When shouldn’t you feed Slim Jims to your dog?
These are the times when you should not give your furry friends Slim Jims. They are:
- Senior dogs: the high sodium content could affect their kidneys and heart.
- Dogs with pulmonary edema (fluid on lungs).
- Dogs with fluid retention.
- Overweight dogs.
- Diabetic dogs.
- Dogs with wheat or gluten allergies.
Does Slim Jims provide nutritional benefits for your dog?
No, Slim Jims do not provide any nutritional benefits for your four-legged friends.
One serving of Slim Jims constitutes four sticks. The 8g of protein does not contribute significantly to the recommended dietary allowance of 25g of crude protein needed (by average-sized dogs).
Also, 14g of fat equals their entire recommended dietary allowance. This means that anything else your dog eats puts him over the fat allowance for the day.
The number of additives, the quality of the meat used, and the high sodium content will not give any nutritional benefits. There are also no added vitamins or essential minerals that will benefit your pooch.
Handy Hint: Avoid any snacks or treats that do not provide any nutritional value to your canine friends such as Madeleines. In our Can Dogs Eat Madeleines article, we explore potential health problems dogs can get if they eat this petite cake regularly.
What if my dog accidentally ate a lot of Slim Jims?
If your pooch accidentally ate a lot of Slim Jims, the main problem will be the high sodium content.
Depending on the size of your pup, and his or her general health, the worst thing that could happen would be the adverse effects of too much sodium. The symptoms could range from:
- Excessive thirst.
- Heart palpitations.
- Muscle tremors.
- Gastric irritation.
- Fluid accumulation.
If you suspect your furry friends may have sodium poisoning, take them to the vet immediately! See the section on treatments below.
If my dog ate one or two Slim Jims, will he be fine?
Yes, your dog will be fine if they ate one or two Slim Jims. He will be fine but you’ll have to make sure you keep any remaining Slim Jims out of your dog’s reach. Because once they get a taste of that Slim Jims, they will eat as many as they can get their cute paws on.
Since there is a high salt content in Slim Jims, make sure to provide a bowl of cool fresh water so they can keep hydrated.
Symptoms to watch for
As mentioned in the section above, with regards to what will happen if your pooch eats too many Slim Jims, the symptoms will vary depending on your dog’s current health and size. Some dogs may not experience any symptoms at all.
If your dog has an existing medical condition and is particularly sensitive to one or more ingredients in the Slim Jim meat sticks then keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- Excessive thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- Heavy panting.
Handy Hint: Try feeding your canine friends healthy fruits and vegetables like Brussel Sprouts, pumpkins, blueberries, and apples if they are craving treats.
If you suspect that your pooch has food poisoning, make sure to take him or her to the vet as soon as possible. Don’t try to treat them at home. Do not give them activated charcoal tablets (even with sorbitol added). Activated charcoal binds toxins but also depletes fluids.
Your vet may administer emetics or warm water enemas. They may also treat the dog with mannitol or dexamethasone. Your vet may put your dog onto an IV treatment plan that will gradually reduce the salt levels and balance the electrolytes. Reducing the levels too quickly may lead to severe cerebral edema. This treatment may take 2 to 3 days.
Cerebral edema is when there is a lot of water that is accumulated in either the extracellular or intracellular spaces of your dog’s brain. When canines have cerebral edema, they may have increased pressure within the skull or damaged nerve function. This can lead to the compression of blood vessels and brain tissues.
Fresh water must be given in small doses only. This is why it is better to go to the vet. When your four-legged friends have too much salt in their system, they can get very thirsty. However, drinking too much water can also cause complications.
Besides cerebral edema, it puts strain on the kidneys as the body tries to process and eliminate the excess salt.
Canine-friendly and safe alternatives to Slim Jims
Here are some healthier alternatives if you want to stop treating your pets with Slim Jims.
- Try substituting with fresh fruit and vegetables like green beans, butternuts, apples, and carrots. Use cooked barley instead of rice if you cook for your dogs. And add parsley too.
- Avoid grapes, chocolates, and certain nuts, like macadamias. These put a strain on your dog’s kidneys.
- Air-popped corn is a fun treat and low in calories that will keep your pups happy. Be sure that your furry friends are not allergic to corn if you’re feeding them this snack.
- Chopped liver, dried slowly in the oven makes healthy and tasty treats.
- Plain cooked chicken breast, chopped into small pieces can also be given.
There are many brands of pet foods that make treats for dogs but always check the fat and sodium content. Homemade healthy snacks are always best. If you don’t have time, here is a dog snack that has real beef flavor:
This real beef flavor dog snack is soft and chewy. It is flavorful and moist and will leave your dog wanting more!
Beef jerky treats for dogs you can make at home
If your canine friends love beef jerky because they love beef, we get it! However, the Slim Jims beef jerky is not healthy for dogs as they are highly processed.
However, that does not mean that your pooch can’t have it. You can make beef jerky treats for your furry friends at home. You’ll have peace of mind that there are no preservatives or additives in the beef jerky. Instead it will be natural and made with love!
Here is what you need: One pound of lean beef. Yes, it’s just that!
We’ve included direction for homemade beef jerky treats for your dog:
- If you do not have a food dehydrator, no worries. Preheat the oven to 150° F.
- With the 1 pound lean beef, cut it into ¼ inch thick strips.
- Place the beef strips on the baking rack or food dehydrator racks if you have one.
- Bake for about 5 hours until the beef strips are fully dehydrated.
- Find an airtight container and store the beef strips in them for about two to three weeks.
After about two to three weeks, open the container and let your dog enjoy them!
So, can dogs eat Slim Jims?
I hope this article has given you an accurate idea of how dangerous and unhealthy it can be to feed your dog human snacks like Slim Jims. If you love your precious pooch as much as you love your children, go that extra mile and prepare some healthy snacks for your fur babies.
And remember, be strong when you are munching on your Slim Jims and you have to resist those puppy eyes saying, “Come on, buddy! Share your Slim Jim with me!”
Slim Jims aren’t toxic to dogs, but that doesn’t mean your pup should have it. It is best to avoid feeding your furry friends Slim Jims as treats.
But if you have to, don’t give them more than a quarter of a serving. And only give it to them as an occasional treat once every few months. A quarter of a serving equates to one stick.
Yes, Slim Jims can cause harm to your dog’s health if they eat so many of the Slim Jim sticks. To avoid an expensive vet bill, try to keep the Slim Jims on a higher surface and out of your dog’s reach.
Yes, dogs can eat one beef jerky stick depending on the ingredients. But again, be aware of the high sodium content and any other additives that your dog may be sensitive to.
Yes, dogs can eat one turkey jerky depending on the ingredients. Don’t feed this to your canine friends if they are sensitive to the high salt content or additives in the jerky.
While the meat in Slim Jim’s may not be an issue to your dogs health, some of the additives may prove to be problematic. The Sodium content of Slim Jim’s in particular could cause some unwanted side effects. Like other foods intended for human consumption the ingredients could potentially be harmful to your dog. Read above to learn all the possible risks.
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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding dietary needs.
SLIM JIM is a registered trademark of Conagra G&S Sub 1, LLC. Dogleashpro does not claim any ownership of the SLIM JIM name, logo, or any identifying mark in any way. This article is for educational purposes only.
I’m a pet lover who has years of pet sitting and grooming experience. I thought it would be a great idea to share my experience with all pet owners so they can also keep their canine companions healthy, happy, and clean!