One industry that seems to be exploding is jerky for pets. The majority of people I know interested in making jerky is for their pets, and not themselves. The great thing about pets is they are not picky about jerky. Pets generally just love eating anything containing meat. That allows you to sneak healthy ingredients into the jerky where they will not mind.
Cut of Meat
You can use pretty much any cut of meat for pets. To save money, I recommend using ground beef. However, if you use ground beef, you should use a jerky gun to form the shape of jerky. Bonuses of using ground beef is that it will be much gentler on their teeth and easier to digest. Dogs in particular tend to swallow treats very quickly in anticipation of getting another treat. I personally would only consider using a cut of meat like inside round roast for a pet weighing over 30 pounds, if done on a regular basis.
Salt is easily the most common preservative used in jerky. However, be careful on how much salt you use on your jerky fed to pets. Too much salt can lead to kidney issues among others. As a general guide, you can use this: “Healthy dogs weighing 33 pounds should consume no more than 100 mg of sodium a day, according to the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, a division of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council”.
The salt quantity depends largely on how long you want to preserve the jerky. My general rule is to use 9 grams of salt per pound to remain fresh for 6 months, assuming you get a fairly dry texture. Adjust accordingly depending on how long you expect each new batch of jerky to last. For homemade pet jerky I would likely aim at only lasting 2-3 months at most.
A tip to know if your pet is consuming too much salt. If your pet is drinking more water and urinating more than usual, that is a sign you should cut back on the salt. Another sign of too much salt is hair loss. Another helpful hint is to dry the meat for longer than usual. The drier the meat, the longer it preserves without using as much preservatives like salt.
Some suggestions to mix with the beef are celery, kale and yam (sweet potatoes). The possibilities are endless, use your imagination. Celery itself is known to act as preservative and a great tasting addition to jerky. For yam, steam or boil it first until tender. The starch from yam seems to help the ground beef from falling apart. Mix all the non-meat ingredients in a blender, then massage into the meat before forming the jerky strips.
Be careful how much jerky you give your pet in one sitting. Pets like homemade jerky so much that they will likely eat too much until they are sick if given the opportunity. Experiment and over time you will learn what rations to use. Jerky is a great motivator teaching pets to learn new tricks.
Making Pet Jerky
You can get tips on how to make jerky from my homemade jerky page.