It seems every day there is another recall in the pet food industry. It makes buying pet foods and treats a very scary thing indeed. But dogs love their treats and we like being able to give them a treat. So how can you give your dog treats without worrying about toxic ingredients?
Who can you trust to produce a treat that is safe for your dog to eat? you! You can trust what you produce yourself. You will never have to worry about quality control or safety again when you make Homemade Jerky Treats yourself. And they are easier to make than you might think.
Today, I will show you how you can produce yummy and safe dehydrated jerky treats for your dog. It’s not hard to do and you can make them using either using a food dehydrator or just using your oven.
Why Take The Trouble of Making Jerky Treats Yourself?
According to the Food And Drug Administration, from 2007 to 2013, 3600 dogs have become sick with everything from kidney failure to intestinal bleeding from eating jerky treats that were either entirely produced in China or were manufactured here but the manufacturer used raw ingredients that were imported from China.
It has been seven years and to date there has been no formal sanctions brought against China for their part in this problem and the FDA still has not banned dog treats from being exported from China. Do you really want to risk your pet’s health by buying store bought jerky treats especially when you can make safe treats right in your own kitchen? Your dog can have their jerky treats and still be safe from unwanted chemical toxins like melamine and glycerin.
The Deadly Truth About Glycerin In Pet Treats
Commercially produced jerky treats often use glycerin to keep their treats from becoming soggy. Glycerin is classed as a humectant ( it absorbs water or moisture). It is also used as a binder, preservative (it is used to prevent mold growth), and as sweetener.
Originally the glycerin destined to be used in semi moist pet foods was created as a by-product of soap making. It was created using fat or vegetable oil. The process is called “saponifying”. It was not a great ingredient but at least it was not killing dogs.
But somewhere along the line a different more deadly source of base material started being used to make the glycerin. Now all too often the glycerin that is being produced and used in pet treats is a by-product of bio-fuels!
Glycerin produced from bio-fuels contain a significant amount of residual methanol (wood alcohol). For those that don’t know, methanol is flammable poisonous and is one of the ingredients used to make formaldehyde. It is also has narcotic properties and is easily absorbed by the body when exposed to it.
Lethal ingestion of methanol can cause blindness and death. Less lethal exposures to methanol are: blurred vision, headaches, stomach and intestinal pain and bleeding, dizziness, confusion, and lung issues.
This is what your dog is most likely ingesting when you feed any treat of foodstuffs that contain glycerin!! This is just one reason that it is well worth the time and effort to make your own jerky treats for your dog.
Nutritional Implications Of Feeding Jerky Treats
Another reason to make and feed these treats is that meats are a great source of natural zinc and since our Snow Dogs have a high daily zinc requirement this a great and yummy way to give your dog some extra zinc!
They’re Easy To Make
These treats are also very easy to prepare in your home. All you need to make these treats is either a food dehydrator or your oven. Meats are cut into thin even strips, baked at very low temperatures, and dried out. That is as complicated as it gets. And since you are making these treats yourself you can make a jerky from a variety of meats.
You can make your own jerky using:
- Fowl: chicken, turkey, duck.
- Red Meat: beef, lamb, bison, rabbit, venison.
- Fish: Tuna, Salmon, Trout.
- Beef Liver
Tip: This is a great way to clean out your freezer and use up those pieces of meat that may have been sitting in the freezer a bit too long. The dogs will not care if the meat is a bit dried out from being in the freezer too long. After all, you are making dried jerky with it.
The Basic Jerky Recipe
The Oven Method:
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line cookie sheets with tin foil.
- Position cooling rack over the cookie sheets. (The jerky will bake and dehydrated more efficiently if the air is allowed to circulate evenly around the meat. Cooking the meat up off the surface of the cookie sheet on the cooling rack gives you a much drier product).
- Choose a meat to fillet.
- Meat fillets cut much easier when the meat is still somewhat frozen. Meat should be pliable enough to bend but not fully thawed.
- You are working with raw meat. Please use common sense and proper food handling safety rules. Use non porous cutting services when cutting and preparing the meat. And to avoid cross contamination of pathogens, when you are done, thoroughly wash and disinfect all surfaces, tools used, as well as your hands.
- Trim and remove any visible fat off of meat as this inhibits the dehydration process.
- With a sharp knife, slice partially frozen meat into very even, long, thin slices, about an 1/8th to ¼ inch thick slices. Slice the meat with the grain to make it chewier for the dog. To ensure even baking times, make all slices the same size and thickness.
- Arrange the meat slices on the cooling rack surface making sure the meat slices do not touch each other during the baking process. Position the lined cookie sheets underneath the cooking meat to catch the moisture as it cooks out of the meat.
- Bake for approximately 2 hours at 200 degrees but baking time will vary depending on the kind of meat being used and how thick you cut the fillets. Turn your racks every 30 minutes to ensure even baking.
- Your jerky is done when the meat is completely dried out. There can be no moisture in the strips whatsoever, especially in the centers. If the meat bends and seems spongy then it is not dried enough. Always opt for longer cooking times rather than under cooking the jerky strips.
- When the strips are cooked and dry remove from oven and allow them to completely cool on the racks.
Because these jerky treats contain absolutely no chemical preservative, they must be stored in the fridge or they can also be stored in the freezer. In the fridge they can be stored for up to three weeks. Because any moisture is bad for jerky, do not store the jerky in plastic bags in the fridge. Sealed plastic bags can collect moisture and it will ruin the texture of your jerky. Instead, store the jerky in paper lunch bags to help keep the jerky very dry.
Using A Food Dehydrator To Make Jerky
If you are using a Food Dehydrator follow the same recipe and then arrange the meat strips on the racks of the Dehydrator. Follow cooking times and temperatures as suggested by the manufacturer. Usually the temperature is set for 140 degrees F and depending on the thickness of the fillets the drying process will take anywhere from 3 to 12 hours.
Dehydrating Is Not Just For Meats
You can also dehydrate Sweet Potatoes to make a chewy and nutritious treat for your Husky. As well, most any dog safe fruit can be dehydrated to create fruit leather treats for your dog.
Tip: When cutting the sweet potato into slices pay attention to the size of the chews that you are creating. While the potato does shrink up a bit when it is baking, for your dog’s safety, you do not want to make huge slices of potatoes. If your dog should try to swallow a piece of chewy potato whole it could become lodged in his throat so make potato pieces small enough not to be a choking hazard.
(I actually had one of my Knuckleheads try and swallow a whole piece of Sweet Potato Chew once. I had to dive into his mouth to retrieve the piece of Sweet Potato Chew. This is why you should always supervise any chewing activities. You just never know when your Husky is going to do something really stupid. )
Dehydrated Sweet Potato Doggy Chews
- 3 or 4 medium sized organically grown sweet potatoes
- Wash and peel the sweet potatoes.
- Cut into ¼ inch thick even slices or you can cut the potato lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slivers. Consider the size of your dog’s esophagus when creating these slices!
- Bake on racks in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven until the potatoes are chewy and moisture free. The longer you bake and dry the crunchier the potatoes get.
- When the treats are done, remove from oven and allow them to cool.
- Store in paper lunch bag in the fridge.
Your Husky can eat safe and nutritious treats when you prepare them at home right in your own kitchen. Happy baking!
As always, we welcome your comments, questions, and stories regarding this topic. When we share our stories and our wisdom we may well be helping out someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at time.