Why homemade dog treats?
Homemade dog treats are healthier! With just a dehydrator (or oven) you can customize exactly what kinds of yummies your dog is eating. Dehydrating treats gives you full control over portions & ingredients without additives that could upset your pup’s stomach. Additionally, homemade treats are generally cheaper and healthier than store bought ones. Keep in mind, these are treats and should not replace the dog’s usual meals as the dehydrating process does remove some of the nutrients from the food.
How to make homemade dog treats:
- Pick out your ingredients (see full list below).
- Cut your ingredients into thin pieces a little bigger than the final desired size (they will shrink during the process). The thinner you cut your ingredients, the quicker they dehydrate.
- Prepare your dehydrator or preheat your oven to 150F. 150F is the minimum temperature that is generally accepted as a safe temperature for killing bacteria.
- Transfer ingredients to the dehydrator sheets or baking sheet lined with aluminum if you are using an oven. Don’t worry about placing the ingredients very close together (just not on top of each other) since they will shrink while they dehydrate.
- Start dehydrator/place in oven. We always use the highest setting on the dehydrator.
- Check on your treats every 12 hours
- After 24 hours, the small treats will be ready. Larger treats and pig ears may take a few days and the largest chews may take up to two weeks. Your treats are done when they are completely stiff, dry, and not bendable.
- Keep refrigerated and enjoy within a few weeks (or freeze up to 6 months) since these treats do not have any preservatives to extend shelf life!
What do you need to make dehydrated dog treats? Tips & tricks to make perfect dog treats:
Get a dehydrator. If you do not own a dehydrator, you can use your oven at a low temperature (150 degrees F). We recently upgraded to an Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
and find that it is much more effective than the dehydrator shown in this post. The dehydrator shown in this post is the more cost effective NESCO FD-75A
. The NESCO works well for small pieces of food but if you will be dehydrating meaty bones or larger pieces, you will need a dehydrator like the Excalibur that has removable trays
The thinner you cut your ingredients, the faster they’ll be ready.
Dehydrating can get smelly so set up your dehydrator in an outdoor space if possible.
Freeze meat treats to avoid any build up of bacteria
- Most dehydrated treats are meat products. If meat makes you uncomfortable, we recommend not reading further. Of course, what you feed your dogs is entirely up to you so we entirely understand and respect your decision.
How do you know when your dehydrated dog treats are ready?
The dog treats are finished dehydrating when they are no longer able to be bent. The treats should be stiff, and hard to the touch. Larger chews or fattier chews will take longer to dehydrate. Marrow bones can take up to two weeks to dehydrate but small chicken jerky may just take two days.
Ingredients for homemade dog treats. Without further ado, here are dehydrated dog treat ideas….
Fruits & Veggies
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables for your dog are simple, low risk, and not smelly! Just slice and dehydrate. You can add some coconut oil for an extra kick of nutrition and tastiness.
Sliced Sweet Potato
Whole Green Beans
Dehydrated Meats for Your Dog
Dehydrated meats like tracheas, bully sticks, and pig ears are some of the more expensive treats you can buy online. Luckily, you can find these ingredients at local markets (generally Asian markets) for a fraction of the price. We dehydrate these meats at home to crispy perfection. Meats with more fat will take more time but will eventually dry out entirely. Here’s how you can prepare your favorite treats at home…..
Chicken Hearts or Lamb Hearts – These are the best value you will find. For about $1.50 you can get 30 chicken hearts. They are high in protein and make dogs go crazy. Just pop them into the dehydrator whole. They are generally ready within 24 hours.
Chicken Feet – Before dehydrating chicken feet, make sure to clip off the nails and thoroughly wash to remove any dirt. They are ready to eat when they no longer bend under pressure.
Pig Snout – Pig snout takes the longest to dehydrate because of its high fat content. Generally, we will wipe off any oils about a day after we begin dehydrating to help the process along. Use a sharp knife to cut the pig snot into 4 equal pieces (or however large you want the treats to be). Cut to desired size before dehydrating because they will be hard to split later. You will need a very strong knife, so be careful!
Pig Ears – These can generally go into the dehydrator as is. If the ear is too big to comfortably fit – you can use a knife to remove the parts that curl over so they fit on the dehydrator trays. Pig ears from markets are bigger *and cheaper* than the ones online.
Ground Beef – Make quarter sized balls out of the ground beef and then flatten into discs.
Ground Turkey – Make quarter sized balls out of the ground turkey and then flatten into discs.
Steak – Slice the raw steak into thin jerky sized strips. Once dehydrated, the steak will shrink to about half of its cut size.
Chicken Breast – Slice the raw chicken breast into thin jerky sized strips. Once dehydrated, the chicken will shrink to about half of its cut size.
Bull Pizzle – Bull pizzle is what we know as bully sticks. This is hard to find so snatch it up if you ever see it!
Liver Protein – you can buy liver protein for any type of meat. If you don’t like the thought of slicing it, some markets will sell the liver pre sliced.
Dried Sausage – Limited ingredient turkey sausage (no added onion or garlic) or 100% beef hot dogs without nitrites make a great snack. Slice them however you’d like.
Bones & Chews
You can even dehydrate your own bones and chews at home for your dog! If you are using a dehydrator with removable trays, you will be to make heavy dog chews at home. We use the Excalibur 3948CDB 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator for bones and can generally fit three tiers of bones in the 9 tray model. We have been experimenting with multiple types of dehydrated bones. We are of the belief that dehydrating is a healthy way for dogs to enjoy bones as the heat is not high enough to cause the bones to become brittle. It is generally believed that the risk surrounding bones is when high temperatures are used for a rotisserie chicken at the family dinner and then the bones are fed to the dog – dehydrating does not impact the bone in the same way and the bones do not splinter like a cooked chicken bone will. Even bones such as chicken can be enjoyed by dogs as long as they are not cooked at higher temperatures (we dehydrate everything at the lowest “safe” temperature which is 150 F). We believe the literature we have read about dehydrating bones but we urge you to do your own research as well. Always supervise your dog when eating bones and heavy chews. Here are the bones and chews we have been enjoying recently:
Chicken Backs- We find chicken backs at our local butcher shop and dehydrate them for about a week.
Turkey Wings – Turkey wings are larger than chicken wings so they provide longer lasting fun for pups. We dehydrate turkey wings for about a week.
Marrow Bones – Marrow bones are our favorites because the dogs love being able to chew the outside of the bones and then lick the marrow out from the insides. Plus, they can be reused and filled with peanut butter or wet food once the dog has finished chewing off the marrow. Dehydrate for a week.
Pork Trotters (Pork Feet) – We pick up an entire pork leg from our local asian market and have the butcher at the counter slice the trotter symmetrically in half. The dogs can eat the entire leg! Pork trotters take about two weeks to fully dehydrate.
Cow Hooves/Legs – Our local market has entire cow legs available for purchase which we have cut into pieces. The dogs love slurping out the marrow and also chewing on the bone.
Although smelly, dehydrated fish is great for dogs – high in Omega 3s, low fat & high protein. Fish helps for a shinier coat as well. The general rule of thumb is to stick to fish with lower lifespans which have not had the time to build up mercury in their blood. Avoid fish like Tuna. Keep raw salmon, fish bones, and shrimp tails away from your pups. There is a great variety of fish that you can dehydrate for your dogs. The following types of fish are a great *smelly* value and healthy for your pups….
Whole Lake Swelt
Sliced Salmon Filet
Enjoy your treats!
-Your Pal Cal