Healthy Dog Treats You Can Make For Your Dog At Home
June 02, 20209 min read
A great way to transition your dog to feeding them a complete and balanced raw diet is to start with the addition of dehydrated single ingredient or limited ingredient treats to their diet! Use these as motivators for a job well done or a new trick learned and eventually they will recognize the similar tastes of their treats in the raw dog food as well.
If you want healthy dog treats shipped directly to your door, we do offer healthy venison jerky treats your dog will roll over for. Made simply with venison heart, tongue, kidney, and a pinch of salt even humans can take a bite if they want to.
With the same ingredients, you can also make these venison treats at home! If you can get your hands on some USDA-certified, locally sourced venison meat and organs, by all means, we encourage you to dehydrate and serve to your health-conscious pup.
Although we plan to expand our treat selection in the near future to include single ingredient dehydrated treats, there are simple ways to provide your dog with healthy treats made right in your home!
What Kind of Raw Meat Can I Dehydrate At Home?
You can really dehydrate anything you want to make into treats. But for dogs, we recommend standard raw meats like chicken breast, liver, hearts, gizzard, and feet. Even beef strips, heart, trachea, and liver are great. Pig ears, snouts, and duck feet can also be dehydrated and served to dogs. Just make sure whatever part of the animal you want to dehydrate that it is USDA-certified and human-grade. You can even get creative with fruits and vegetables too. Just be sure to triple-check that certain fruits are safe for dogs to eat. We have vegetables in our formulas that are guaranteed safe you can check out that list here.
Here’s what you shouldn’t dehydrate and give to dogs. Bones. Often dehydrated bones splinter easily and can get caught in a dog’s throat. Same reason why you never want to give them small chicken or fish bones. It’s just not safe. Commercial bone treats are also advised against by the FDA which are often processed and with added preservatives.
The only bones we do recommend giving them are the recreational raw bones we mentioned earlier like beef marrow bones are used to chew and stimulate not to swallow and choke on. Since they are raw they still contain fat, meat, and tissue that softens the bone itself and is easier on the dog’s mouth. Be sure to take it away after a decent amount of chewing and save it for another day.
Types of Treats to Dehydrate For My Dog
There are many animal parts and organs that can be found at your local butcher shop to make tasty dehydrated treats at home! Be sure these are all human-grade items that are safe for your dog to consume. Here are some recommendations and their health benefits for your dog:
Hearts are incredibly lean meat with lots of protein and low calories for your dog to snack on. They are also high in iron and zinc, which help boost your dog’s immune system. Once dehydrated into smaller slices, they are fun treats to train with and a great source of potassium and magnesium. You can cut these into thin slices and air dry them naturally between 44-48 hours on a drying tray. For a faster drying time, you can freeze dry, oven dry, or use a dehydrator as described in the next section!
Although fully cooked chicken feet are not safe for dogs to eat, low temperature, air-dried chicken feet are perfectly safe because the tendons won’t splinter. You can also naturally air dry these treats between 36-40 hours. Feet are a great source of calcium and collagen since they are composed of mostly cartilage and tendon. If your dog has a hard time chewing, even just serving raw chicken feet is great too!
Turkey has always been a lean meat source for dogs that are determined to shed some pounds. Turkey has the highest amount of protein and can be used as a low-calorie treat! Something to think about when you need to get rid of that leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. Simply slice them up in even, thin pieces and air dry them for 44-48 hours.
Another vital organ to consider saving when gutting your Thanksgiving turkey would be the neck! Packed with tons of zinc and iron, it is known to boost a dog’s immune system and promote healthy skin and coats. Due to its moisture content, it will take between 96-100 hours to naturally air dry but once dried completely, you can stick these in the freezer to last up to 6 months. Be sure to supervise your dog when they enjoy these dried treats and take them away and store them back in the freezer for next time!
Similar to chicken feet, dehydrated duck feet are a great crunchy treat for your dog that promotes healthy joints! The difference between chicken and duck feet would be the webbed part which acts as a tool to clean your dog’s gums and teeth gently. The webs tend to retain more moisture so you'll have to air dry them for about 56-60 hours to get them at a crunchy texture.
Dehydrated duck wings are a tasty, crunchy, teeth-cleaning treat for your dog with tons of calcium and chondroitin. Air drying these wings will still retain the nutrients from this and will act as a good source for healthy bones and joints. Simply leave them on a drying rack for about 66-70 hours and store them in a dry place for 90 days or freeze them for up to 6 months for a frozen treat!
Liver is known for its excellent source of vitamin A and iron. These are easily dehydrated by one of the drying methods we describe below and beef liver is usually quite large so you may be stocked up on treats for a while. Or you can air dry them for 44-48 hours on a drying rack. Another great source of protein and provides your dog with essential fatty acids.
Tendon is the connective tissue between muscle and bone which makes it high in collagen. With a very chewy texture, it will give your dog’s mouth plenty of jaw exercise. Tendon is also 99% fat-free and easily digestible! Typically, tendons have a higher moisture content so it will take between 88-92 hours to air dry but will take less time when using a dehydrator.
Spleen is a nutrient-rich organ that is packed with iron, potassium, and many other essential minerals. Iron is responsible for getting oxygen to blood cells while potassium is great for muscle and nerve function for those wildly active dogs. Top off some dehydrated beef spleen over their raw food after a high-energy day to help recover those tired muscles. These can be naturally airdried within 44-48 hours.
If you're wondering what pizzle is, it is the male cow's penis. Most times these parts of the cow are used as chews and known as bully sticks. It'll be great for your dog's oral health but be sure to supervise and take them away to prevent any jaw aches.
These chews can be naturally air-dried for 72-76 hours. You can store these back in the freezer for up to 60 days or in the fridge for 30 days to save for another time.
Another great healthy & natural chew for your dog is cow ears. They are great for oral hygiene because chewing on these removes plaque. Cow ears are also great for dogs with arthritis because it's full of chondroitin.
If you plan to keep these stored for a long period of time, it's recommended to trim off the fat to prevent your homemade dog treat from spoiling quickly.
Since humans also enjoy pigskin, we figured dogs might like it too! Although, for our furry friends, there’s no need to deep fry it- just dehydrate and let them enjoy their healthy protein snack. Low in cholesterol and carbs, this treat will keep them busy and will last even longer when frozen. Perfect for a summer cool down! You can naturally airdry these treats for 52-56 hours.
Kidneys are another excellent organ that is nutrient-rich in iron, zinc, and vitamin C. Once dehydrated, they will make for great training treats and toppers for your dog's raw meals, in moderation. You can naturally air dry these treats for 44-48 hours.
Unlike store-bought pig ears, your homemade dehydrated pig ears would have no preservatives so you know exactly what your dog is putting into their body. Mostly just made out of cartilage, it's a great source of collagen for your pup! The sharp edges of the dried pig ear will also scrape off any tartar built up around your dog’s teeth. Be sure to naturally air dry these for 60-64 hours or when they are tough enough for your dog to gnaw on.
Similar to the beef spleen, lamb spleen provides your dog with essential minerals and even Vitamin C. Vitamin C benefits dogs just as much as it benefits humans, in a way that fights off sickness and disease. Lamb spleen is a great source for your dog’s immunity and they’ll love you for it too! Be sure to cut them into thin slices and set them on a rack to air dry for 40-44 hours.
Raw bones are a great source of calcium and a natural teeth cleaner for your dog. These don’t need to be dehydrated but can be left in the freezer and be given straight to your dog as a refreshing cold treat. They’ll go crazy for the marrow still left inside the femur and will keep them occupied and stimulated. Just be sure to supervise them and try to take the femur away after 30 minutes to prevent the gums from bleeding after gnawing on them for too long. You can naturally air dry these treats for 70-72 hours.
These particular mussels are only found in New Zealand and are a natural joint supplement for dogs and humans! They contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties that also promotes brain function. Because mussels are known to be high calorie we recommend feeding just one at a time and only a few times a week. These are smaller in size so you can naturally air dry them at home for 28-32 hours for a tasty treat!
Salmon oil is known to have healthy omega 3 fatty acids that support your dog's joints, immune system, and coat shine! Simply dried salmon chunks can be another source for your dog to absorb healthy fats into their diet. Remember to feed these in moderation as a training treat or a topper on top of their raw meals. Small chunks can be air-dried for between 50-54 hours.
How To Make Single Ingredient Dehydrated Treats For Dogs
Dehydrated treats are the best way to evaporate the moisture content so they last longer without going bad and you can store them. If you happen to have a dehydrator lying around, great! If you don’t have one that’s ok, you can still oven or fridge dry your raw ingredients to make your dog the best homemade raw treat.
Naturally Air Dry
This method is pretty straightforward and great for beginner homemade treat makers! We recommend using a sheet tray or a drying rack to leave your fresh organ meats to dry out. This method may take the longest but be sure to leave them out of reach from your curious dog!
1). Set your dehydrator at 155 degrees F or 160 degrees F
2). Slice your meat or organ thin and try to get them to be the same size so they can dehydrate evenly.
3). Line up your dehydrating tray.
4). Dehydrating can take 48 hours up to 3 days depending on the moisture content. The best thing to do is to check on them periodically and feel them until it’s firm enough to call them jerky.
5). Store in a dry place or in a plastic bag in the freezer to preserve them longer.
1). Set your oven to the lowest temperature.
2). Slice your meat or organ thin and evenly and line them up on a tray with parchment paper.
3). Timing in an oven is much faster than a dehydrator so check on your meat after 2-3 hours.
4). Rotate or flip the tray every hour or so to ensure even dehydration throughout.
5). Leave the meat in the oven until firm and are able to snap in half.
6). Same storage procedures as above, enjoy!
1). Slice meat and organs to desired thinness, the thinner the better.
2). Place the slices on a tray lined with parchment paper.
3). Leave the tray in the fridge for up to a whole week and flip the meat every day or so to ensure even dehydration.
4). Once they are completely dried out you may store them the same way above.
We hope that this sways you into the right direction toward a species-appropriate raw diet by starting with dehydrated treats your dog is sure to love. You can train them with these treats as incentives and they’ll absolutely love to learn! You can even use them as toppers on their raw food for a bit of a crunchy texture. Either way, you should always know what ingredient list goes into your dog's treats, and what better way to know what’s in them than to make them yourself at home!