Are you tired of reading dog food and treat labels, trying to determine whether something is safe for your dog? While many owners turn to making their own food and treats, not every pet parent has time to devote to extra cooking and baking. An alternative is to dehydrate fruits, meat, and vegetables, which is easy and cost effective. Everything you need to know about this method is described below.
What are Dehydrated Dog Treats?
A dehydrated dog treat is simply a fruit, vegetable, or meat that is completely devoid of moisture. For instance, if dehydrating meat, the consistency of the final product will be similar to jerky, but without potentially harmful additives and preservatives.
How are Dehydrated Dog Treats Made?
The simplest way to dehydrate foods for your dog is to purchase a food dehydrator. These are available in many sizes and styles, and one can be purchased to fit almost any budget. To make dehydrated treats, simply slice the desired meat, fruit, or vegetable and follow the dehydration instructions per the manufacturer. Typically, foods take anywhere from 3 – 12 hours to fully dehydrate.
If you do not have a food dehydrator, you can use your oven, or even the toaster oven. For the oven, use the lowest setting possible and place your sliced ingredients on a lined baking sheet. With this method, full dehydration of fruits and vegetables typically takes 6 – 8 hours. If using the toaster oven, follow the same protocol but leave the toaster oven door slightly ajar to avoid condensation.
For many people, a food dehydrator is the preferable option, as most pet owners are not comfortable leaving the oven or toaster turned on for an extended period of time, particularly if away from home.
How Much Does it Cost to Make Dehydrated Dog Treats?
After the initial investment of the food dehydrator (if choosing to use one), the only cost thereafter is the treat ingredients. This can be nearly anything, from bananas and apples to sweet potatoes and chicken. In addition, using the food dehydrator is a good option if you have dog-friendly foods that are about to spoil. A typical bag of chicken jerky treats cost $10 – $15, whereas chicken can be purchased from the grocery store for $1.50 – $3.00 per pound.
Are Dehydrated Dog Treats Healthier than Store Bought Treats?
A major advantage of dehydrated food is that it retains nutrients that may otherwise be lost during the cooking process. Additionally, dehydrated foods made at home have no preservatives, additives, or fillers. Dehydrated treats also are chewier than traditional treats, meaning they take more time for your dog to eat and can have teeth-cleaning properties.
There are numerous recipes for dehydrated dog treats. Common treats include boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into thin strips and dehydrated for 3 – 12 hours; sweet potato tossed with mint and olive oil and dehydrated for 3 – 12 hours; and even dehydrated canned dog food to make bite-sized training treats.