Are You Still Putting Your Dog At Risk With Commercial Dog Treats? Keep Your Dog Safe With These Easy, 1 Ingredient Recipes For Dehydrated Foods For Dogs
Despite all the terrible dog food and dog treat scares we’ve suffered in the past, there are still constant dog food recalls. We can keep our fur babies safe by not buying dog treats that are heavily laden with chemicals and unhealthy fillers. Making homemade dog treats is NOT hard and you can be sure that your dog will be getting nutritious tit-bits in these DIY dehydrated dog treat recipes.
In this article:
- Recipe: organ meat jerky for dogs
- Recipe: chicken jerky for dogs
- Recipe: dehydrated fish for dogs
- Recipe: dehydrated fruit for dogs
- Recipe: dehydrated vegetables for dogs
- Recipe: dehydrated leafy green vegetables and herbs for dogs
- Is it best to make dehydrated treats in a dehydrator or oven?
- How long should I dehydrate treats for?
- How long do dehydrated dog treats keep for?
- How to store homemade dehydrated treats for dogs
- Which dehydrator is best for making dog treats?
- Can I dry meat and fruit / veg at the same time on the same tray?
- My dog doesn’t like fruit or veg, how can I make it more interesting?
We all love simplicity, and the beauty of many dehydrated dog treats is that they are single ingredient recipes! Plus, dehydrating food means that when there is a glut of something on sale (like apples or pumpkin in the autumn, for instance), you can often find really good prices and make up big batches of dehydrated treats or freeze the food for later use.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, don’t worry – you can prepare all of these treats in an oven.
RECIPE ORGAN MEAT JERKY FOR DOGS
This is a shortened version of a more detailed recipe article – the full article can be found here.
I’ve dehydrated ox and lamb liver, heart, and kidney without any problems. Heart can be fatty though. Fat doesn’t dehydrate well and can turn rancid, so you need to cut away any fat before dehydrating. I never give my dogs pork.
It really helps to go regularly to your local butcher for organ meat, as they also keep things back for you once they know what you’re looking for. I get the butcher to slice up the organs for me these days – my slicing skills are rubbish, plus I find it a revolting process!
It’s good practise to freeze meat for a week before dehydrating, to kill off any parasites that might be in it. If you freeze unsliced meat, the easiest way to slice it up when you’re ready to dehydrate it is to leave it to defrost, but slice it before it’s completely defrosted. You’ll find that you can cut the slices more easily. It’s also less slippery and certainly less revolting than cutting fresh meat!
- Slice the organ meat in 5mm or 1/4″ slices, cutting away any fat. It is often easier to cut if it is still slightly frozen.
- For oven drying: Lay the strips out on a tray lined with a silicone baking sheet, aluminium foil or a grill or rack with foil beneath it. This is because initially, the meat will release liquid, and that leaves a big mess at the bottom of your oven. Pop the tray in the oven at the lowest setting. If your lowest oven temperature is higher than 50degC / 120deg F, leave it at its lowest setting. Leave the oven door open very slightly. This will help moisture escape and stop the meat from cooking. After 20-30 minutes, remove the paper and lay the meat directly on the tray so it can get maximum airflow around it. Pop it back in the oven at the same temperature and dehydrate for several hours – see ‘How long should I dehydrate for?’ below
- If using a dehydrator: Line the dehydrator trays with dehydrator liners or baking / parchment paper. Lay the strips out on the paper. This is because initially, the meat will release liquid, and that leaves a big mess at the bottom of your dehydrator. Dehydrate at 75degC / 167deg F for an hour til most of the liquid has seeped out. Remove the paper and lay the meat directly on the tray so it can get maximum airflow around it. Dehydrate for several hours. The amount of time it takes depends on how dry and crunchy you want the treats to be – refer to ‘How long should I dehydrate for?’ below
- Take one piece out when you think the jerky is ready and let it cool, then do a ‘snap test’. If you want thoroughly dehydrated organ meat jerky for dogs that will keep for a long time, the jerky should snap easily
- If your dehydrator doesn’t go as high as 75degC / 167deg F, heat blast the jerky in the oven at 75degC / 167deg F for 5 minutes to kill any remaining pathogens
RECIPE CHICKEN JERKY FOR DOGS
This is a shortened version of a more detailed recipe article – the full article can be found here.
Chicken breast, and if you can afford it, organic chicken breast, is best to make chicken jerky. It’s so easy to dehydrate chicken for dog treats!
- Slice the chicken in 5mm or 1/4″ slices. It is often easier to cut if it is slightly frozen.
- Lay the strips out on a grill or rack
- Place in a dehydrator at 75degC / 167deg F for several hours
- OR – in the oven at the lowest temperature. If your lowest oven temperature is higher than 50degC / 120deg F, check the jerky strips and turn them regularly to make sure they don’t burn. Leaving the oven door open slightly might help and dehydrate them at the lowest temperature for several hours.
- The amount of time it takes depends on how dry and crunchy you want the treats to be – refer to ‘How long should I dehydrate for?’ below
- Take one piece out when you think the jerky is ready and let it cool, then do a ‘snap test’. If you want thoroughly dehydrated chicken jerky for dogs that will keep for a long time, the jerky should snap easily
- If your dehydrator doesn’t go as high as 75degC / 167deg F, your chicken dehydrated dog treats will need to be heat blasted in the oven at 75degC / 167deg F for 5 minutes to kill any remaining pathogens
RECIPE DEHYDRATED FISH FOR DOGS
I’ve tried my dogs on all kinds of dehydrated fish and they woof it all up 😋
If you plan to use canned fish, drain the fish well and make sure to pat the fish dry of any oil or brine from the tin before you dehydrate.
For smaller, thin fish, such as anchovies, the drying time is quite fast. I cook fish at the highest setting, 75degC / 167deg F, but turning regularly.
RECIPE DEHYDRATED FRUIT FOR DOGS
The list of fruit you can dehydrate is endless. Many dogs enjoy:
Wash the fruit and peel if necessary. Core to remove seeds, then slice thinly – either lengthways or across, depending on the kind of treats you want. A mandolin is great for thinly slicing fruit.
Pop them in the dehydrator on a low setting, around 60degC / 140degF. Depending on the fruit, it can take anywhere from 6 to 36 hours to dehydrate fruit.
You might notice that the colour isn’t the same as in purchased dried fruit. Commercial dried fruit often has often been treated with preservatives to maintain colour.
RECIPE DEHYDRATED VEGETABLES FOR DOGS
Veggies tend to dry faster than fruit. There are many vegetables you can dehydrate for dogs, such as:
- sweet potatoes
- green beans
The preparation is the same as for the fruit: wash and thinly slice, then put them in the dehydrator on a low setting, around 52degC / 125degF.
I’m sure you know this, but if not, when dehydrating food for dogs, make sure onions are not included as they are very bad for dogs.
RECIPE DEHYDRATED LEAFY VEGETABLES AND HERBS FOR DOGS
Leafy veg such as kale or spinach and herbs dry quickly and at lower temperatures, dog-safe options include:
- dandelion leaves
- herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley
The preparation is the same as for the fruit: wash, (there is not need to cut them up), then put them in the dehydrator on a low setting, around 38degC / 100degF. Dry them until they are crisp.
Here is a useful table with recommended drying times and temperatures for many common food types – note that it’s a general list and not all of those listed are dog-safe.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DEHYDRATING TREATS FOR DOGS
OVEN OR DEHYDRATOR?
For me, the main reasons for choosing a dehydrator over an oven when making dehydrated dog treats are
- You have more control over the temperature and more even drying in a dehydrator
- A dehydrator is more cost effective than an oven
- A dehydrator is useful for lots of other food, for us and our dogs. eg dried fruit snacks, vegetables, herbs… the list goes on.
HOW LONG SHOULD I DEHYDRATE DOG TREATS FOR?
Dehydrating dog treats takes time. The amount of time really depends on what you want from the treats. Do you want soft, chewy treats? Stop dehydrating them when they have the texture you’re looking for. Some dogs with sensitive teeth and mouths prefer softer treats.
If you want something crunchy that you can keep for longer, then you need to dehydrate it completely. When you think the treats are ready, let one cool down and do a snap test – it should break easily if it’s properly dried out.
HOW LONG DO DEHYDRATED DOG TREATS KEEP FOR?
How long your dehydrated dog treats will last depends on different things, such as:
- making too big a big batch of treats that can’t all be consumed in a reasonable time frame. To avoid this, freeze what you don’t need now in small portions in bags
- improper storage, eg, storing treats before they are completely cool, storing them in an open container in the fridge where more moisture will be absorbed
- not dehydrating the treats enough – soft treats means that moisture is still present. Moisture means mould will appear faster than in a dry treat.
HOW TO STORE DEHYDRATED DOG TREATS?
This depends on how dry you made your dehydrated treats. If you made them soft and chewy they will have a shorter shelf life. Such treats are best kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or two, or in the freezer as noted above.
Dehydrated treats also keep well in vacuum bags.
Fully dehydrated dog treats can last for up to a year – I keep samples of each batch produced in my brick and mortar dog treat business and they are sill showing no visible signs of mold a year later.
CAN I DRY MEAT AND FRUIT / VEG AT THE SAME TIME AND ON THE SAME TRAYS?
Yes! There are a couple of things to bear in mind though.
Some food can drip initially, so for example, if you don’t want meat flavoured fruit chips, don’t put the chips under the meat tray! Alternatively, use a non-stick oven liner – cut it to fit in your tray. As long as you don’t place the food too near the edge, it should collect the drips. Personally, I only use a liner until the food stops dripping and then I remove it. The food dries better with a free air flow over it and the liner impedes that a little.
Different types of food dry at different temperatures and for different times, so keep checking to see when each food type is ready. You might need to turn up the heat after removing some foods in order to properly dehydrate food still in the dehydrator.
It’s best not to add new food to the dehydrator when you already have food partly dried in it, as you will be introducing more moisture.
MY DOG DOESN’T LIKE DRIED FRUIT OR VEG. HOW CAN I MAKE IT MORE INTERESTING TO HER?
My girl is uber fussy and will immediately spit any fruit or veg out. To make healthy fruit and veg treats appealing, I smear some of my squeezy cheese or liver pate on the treats before or after drying, or toss them in some meat ‘sprinkles’.
I make sprinkles and other shapes for dog cake decorating using dehydrated liver – you can see some in this recipe for a Hedgehog birthday cake for dogs (no hedgehogs in it!), or this Halloween cake for dogs recipe, or this birthday cakes for raw fed dogs recipe. Ground, dehydrated liver looks just like chocolate sprinkles! It works well as a dusting for fruit and veg treats too.
WHICH DEHYDRATOR IS BEST FOR MAKING DOG TREATS?
If you don’t have a dehydrator for dog treats, but you’re considering getting one, here are some points to think about:
- what’s your budget?
- how much use will it get?
- how much space do you have for it?
- will you put it away after use or leave it on the counter top?
- will it be at eye level?
- how many trays do you need?
- do you need variable temperature control?
- do you need a timer?
Entry-level dehydrators are affordable and don’t take up much space. However, they’re quite small, they’re unlikely to have a timer and they might not have a particularly good heat range. An entry-level dog treats dehydrator is more than enough for occasional treat making.
A good, mid-range dehydrator is bigger, it will have a timer, stainless steel trays, and a variable temperature control up to at least 75degC / 167degF. If you plan to make regular batches, it’s worth getting a mid-range dog treat dehydrator
For occasional use, perhaps an air fryer / dehydrator would better suit your needs – it can be used for many other recipes, not just dehydrated dog treats.
Making homemade dehydrated treats for dogs, whether in an oven or in a dehydrator, is incredibly easy. This way, you can guarantee that your dog is safe from the chemical-laden dog treats on the market.
Dehydrating chicken for dog treats is super simple. Organ meat tends to release liquid at the beginning but after that it’s just as straight-forward as chicken.
What easy, dehydrated dog treats recipes do you plan to try for your beloved dog?