Homemade Dog Treats: Easy And Affordable

March 13, 2017 | We Learn | Tips from Max Willner

If there’s one thing my dog and I have in common more than anything else, it’s a love for food. In unison, we’ll rubberneck as soon as the scent of it strikes our noses. The sound of a fridge opening is heaven to our ears and a promise to our stomachs.

It’s true – we love all kinds of food. But I do my best to eat healthy and I make sure my dog River does the same. Everyone seems to be pretty set on what kind of food they feed their dog, but what about snacks and treats? River and I do a lot of hiking together, and treats serve as great positive reinforcements for good behavior. From a store, they can start to get expensive. That’s why I make my own for a fraction of the cost. The best part – they’re great for people and dogs alike.

I have an Open Country dehydrator that I use to make jerky and fruit snacks for backpacking trips – it’s affordable and very efficient. Not interested in buying one? Totally fine. You can use your oven and achieve the same results! Dehydrated snacks have a long shelf-life and taste way, way better than anything you can find in a store.

So, what to dehydrate? I usually split our snacks into two bags/categories – sweet and savory.

To satisfy that sweet tooth, I’ll usually dehydrate strawberries and apples. It’s best to soak fruits in water with a hint of lemon juice first. When sliced thinly and placed on a pan lined with parchment paper, they’re ready within a couple of hours. I’d recommend 160° for either an oven or dehydrator.

For our more savory snacks, my favorite combination is chicken and bell peppers. What a fantastic combination! Red bell peppers, unlike their yellow and green friends, have the highest vitamin C and E (along with other essential nutrients). Slice them longways and thinly. These take a couple hours as well, at around 140°. They have a lot of moisture to lose and shrivel up quite a bit, but the flavor is still as powerful.

“They have a lot of moisture to lose and shrivel up quite a bit, but the flavor is still as powerful.”

For chicken, I usually approach this from two angles. Chicken is supposed to be dehydrated raw – no cooking required. I usually cut mine to about the thickness of my thumb. One half gets soaked in teriyaki and garlic (my personal favorite) and River gets hers without any seasoning. She doesn’t seem to mind one bit. Chicken usually takes around 4 hours at around 160°. You want the chicken to end up being thin and leathery. I prefer mine on the crispy side. I think River does, too.

If you’re using an oven, I’d recommend checking on your snacks periodically to ensure that they’re dehydrating properly. It’s usually a good idea to even leave the oven cracked open a little bit for ventilation. With a dehydrator, there isn’t as much oversight required. Toss those snacks in and let it get to work for a few hours.

It’s quick, simple, and most importantly a very affordable way for you and your dog to stay healthy and happy!

Photo credit elvissa via Foter.com

If you enjoyed this post, you should read “3 Things You May Not Know About Poodles” here.

Do you make your own dog treats? Mine love avocado and tortilla chips, so they are super easy to please. Share your treat ideas below!

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