Dehydrated dog food recipes are ridiculously simple!
All you need is:
With those three things you can make healthy, tasty, chewy treats that your dog will love.... and for waaaay less than you can find them in any store or online.
So, why not give it a shot yourself? Maybe right now? If you have just about any raw meat or dog-friendly vegetables/fruits handy then you can make your first batch today.
CLICK HERE to jump to recipes or scroll down to learn why making dehydrated dog treats is win-win for you AND Fido.
There are lots of reasons why homemade dehydrated dog treats are a great choice for your dog:
When you make dehydrated treats for your dog all the nutrients are baked right into them. The only thing you're removing is water!
By using raw vegetables, or raw LEAN meat (fatty meat does not dehydrate well) your dehydrated dog treats can make delicious, low calorie goodies for dogs who need to watch their waistlines.
If you use raw meat (beef or chicken for example) you can preserve the nutritional benefits but eliminate dangerous bacteria like E.coli or salmonella by popping your dehydrated treats into your regular oven at 300F for 10 t0 15 minutes AFTER they've completed their time in the dehydrator.
Dogs are unlikely to get sick from salmonella or E.coli the way humans do, but I'd always rather be safe than sorry.
Not all dehydrators can reach the temperature required for meat which is:
In that case it's vital to use your regular oven to either pre-cook the meat or cook it some more afterwards. That way you can rest assured it's been heated all the way through and is safe.
I have lots of easy dog treat recipes on this site, but these dehydrated dog treat recipes give are among the quickest and simplest of them all. Simple wash, peel (if necessary), slice, arrange on dehydrator trays (or in the oven), set temperature and walk away!
Several hours later your treats are ready to be eaten, enjoyed.... and stored.
Because they're moisture free, you can store your homemade dehydrated dog treats in airtight container or ziploc bag for several weeks.
As long as they're in airtight containers, your dehydrated dog treats can be stored at room temperature for two to four weeks, or in the refrigerator for up to two months.
If you have a vacuum sealer you can use it for your dehydrated treats. Put the sealed bags in the freezer and they'll be good for 9-12 months.
I doubt your treats will be around for you to keep them that long! They certainly aren't in our house. But it's good to know, just in case.
Most store bought dehydrated dog treats and chews are definitely not easy on the wallet... especially those that are meat based.
When you make your own dehydrated dog treat recipes you save $$$'s and can be certain that there are no hidden additives or stuff you don't want your dog to be ingesting.
If you plan on making them regularly, then investing in a dehydrator might be a good choice but you'll make that purchase price back pretty quickly. You can find food dehydrators for as low as $60 - $70. Mine actually cost just under $60 when I bought it, and it's been worth every penny.
Of course, you can make dehydrated treats in your regular oven too if you're prefer.
You don't need any long ingredient list, or complicated instructions, to make dehydrated dog treats at home.
The process is similar whether you're drying vegetables, fruit, meat or fish.
Drying times can vary depending on the ingredient you're using, and also on how crunchy, or chewy, you prefer your treats to be.
I've included two step-by-step examples of homemade dehydrated dog treat recipes below. One using sweet potato and one using chicken breasts.
Generally I prefer to use ingredients, but you could use canned chicken or fish if you prefer.
Some people like to blanch their vegetables (especially root vegetables like sweet potatoes or carrots) before dehydrating, but it's an optional step. I don't do that myself but I've added instructions for blanching to the dehydrated sweet potato dog treat recipe below so that you can add this step if you'd like to.
Same goes for heating dehydrated chicken dog treats in the oven for 10 minutes after they've finished in the dehydrator. I do this with chicken out of an abundance of caution, but it's an optional step.
The only ingredient you need for these are raw sweet potatoes!
You can do one, two, three.... however many you like (taking into account how many your dehydrator or oven can hold of course).
My dehydrator has five trays and can hold three medium sized sweet potatoes.
You can make your dehydrated sweet potato dog treats any size you want, although don't cut them too thick or the won't dry properly. I'd suggest 1/4" as maximum thickness.
Whether they turn out chewy, or crunchy, depends on how long you keep them in the dehydrator for (their thickness also has an effect).
At first the simplest thing to do is to check them every few hours to see if your treats are at the desired stage of chewy or crunchy.
As with nearly all dehydrated dog treat recipes, you only need one ingredient for this... in this case chicken breast.
Lean meat is always best for dehydration purposes because fat contains too much moisture and can impair the drying process as well as limit storage time.
I always use skinless chicken breasts and before I slice them I remove any residual pieces of fat or skin so that they're as lean as humanly possible!
** This last step is to be sure that there are no bacteria remaining in your dehydrated chicken dog treats.
If your dehydrator reaches at least 155F (68F) then your treats should be safe for your dog to eat when they're fully dehydrated, but I prefer to be safe than sorry
The easiest way to know if your dehydrated chicken dog jerky treats are ready is to look at them. When fully dry they will look dry, darker in color and their color will be consistent throughout. Double check what you're seeing is correct by cutting one treat through the thickest part. If there's no moisture and no variation in color, it's ready!
When it comes to storing dog treats, dehydrated treats are the one that stay fresh the longest.
Store your homemade dehydrated dog treats in an airtight container. Tupperware or similar plastic/glass containers work well, but ziploc bags, screw-top jars and so on work great too.
You don't need to refrigerate dehydrated fruit and vegetable dog treats unless you will be keeping them for longer than a month or so .
I store any dehydrated dog treats that are made from chicken, organ meat, beef or fish etc. in the refrigerator from day one but this isn't really necessary. You can keep them at room temperature for about two weeks as long as the container is airtight and in a cool environment.
The variety of ingredients you can use to make dehydrated treats for your dog is huge. Many dog-safe foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and fish work great.
You can even use canned chicken or fish such as tuna or salmon, but check the labels and avoid any with added salt or ingredients that might not be suitable for your dog.
Low-fat turkey sausages also make yummy, chewy dog treats when dehydrated.
Be sure to check out this page so you know which popular foods are NOT safe for your dog to eat, dehydrated or any other way before you choose.
You can marinade meats if you want to, just make them dog-friendly by staying away from salt and spices (including garlic and onions). Certain herbs or broths can have added benefits
Several vegetables and some fruits make tasty dehydrated dog treats. Fruits that contain too much water, or are very small (ie. berries) don't work well for obvious reasons.
Here are some of my favorites from both groups:
There are several meat choices for making dehydrated dog treats or jerky. Obvious ones like chicken and beef, as well as fish, organ meat and more.
I've noted approx. dehydrating time for each type of meat in the list below. However, the best way to tell when your dehydrated treats are done is by look. They should be totally moisture free and crispy. You can check them as often as you need to and adjust time to suit.
I'd also recommend 'finishing off' any dehydrated meat dog treats in your regular oven preheated to 275F-300F for about 10 minutes right after you remove them from the dehydrator.
Always cut meat or organ meat thin to help speed up dehydrating time.
The most popular meats to use in homemade dehydrated dog treats include:
There are loads of other, more creative options too.
Whether they work for you or not depends on your sensitivity level (as a vegetarian I struggle making just regular meat treats for my dogs, but they LOVE meat, and I LOVE them, so I do it anyway!)
Here are some suggestions:
It's easy to make dehydrated dog treats in a regular oven if you don't have a dehydrator, or want to experiment before investing in one.
Just set the oven at a low temperature (145F/62C for most meat/fish, 160F/70C for poultry) and once preheated put treats in and cook for the same amount of time recommended for a dehydrator.
As always, check them regularly and you can always reduce, or increase, drying time until the treats come out just right.
Whatever type of dehydrated dog treats and method you choose, I'm sure the results will be delicious and that your dog will enjoy them immensely. Happy dehydrating!