DIY Dehydrated Treats + Chews
Updated: May 15
Synthetic vitamins/minerals, fillers, sourcing, and transparency? So many things to worry about when buying treats and chews. That’s why I like to make them myself!
Today I’m going to show you how to make Homemade Treats & Chews that you can feel confident in feeding. As well as go over what dehydrator I use, storage tips, flash baking plus a training treat recipe.
Let’s get started!
Any lean protein of your choice
This time around I’m going to be using goat liver, venison, oysters & beef trachea but I love to mix it up every batch. It's vital that you choose lean cuts of meat to use otherwise they won't dehydrate very well due to the fat.
I also don't recommend dehydrating any bones because even though this process doesn't "cook" the bones, any time you add heat to raw bones there is always a risk of them splintering. Better safe than sorry!
Treat & Chew suggestions:
Heart (with fat trimmed)
Venison muscle meat
Green Lipped Mussel (GLM)
Ears (takes very long to dry depending on size)
1. First, cut your meat into slices or chunks. The thinner the cuts the faster they dehydrate!
TIP: Cut when the meat is slightly defrosted to make it easier to deal with!
2. Lay all the pieces on the dehydrating rack. Make sure nothing is touching!
3. Place in the dehydrator for 12-24 hours (time will vary each time depending on size). I place my dehydrator in the garage and open a window due to the STINKY smell.
4. Check it for consistency often. Since the treats & chews must be COMPLETELY dehydrated before ready, I leave the treats in for around 18-24 hours. If there is excess moisture in the meat it will be prone to mold. A good telltale sign that they are ready is when the treats snap in half, not tear. And the chews should be an all-around a dark amber/brown color and be solid to touch.
5. Then when they’re done place in an airtight container and/or freeze.
I store the treats in a glass mason jar with a rubber seal and the chews in Ziploc bags. In my experience, dehydrating then until they’re very crisp prevents them from molding. I also throw in a silica packet from a leftover bag just for prevention purposes. I usually use them within a week so they don’t really have a chance to mold but I suggest if you want to extend the shelf life to freeze them.
I use the Presto Dehydrator from Amazon. It’s automatically set to 165 F which is convenient because you just plug it in and it turns on. It comes with 4 stack-able tiers and a lid which helps from keeping the dogs from stealing the treats, sometimes...
What I would look for is something that has stackable layers for the most space and a drying fan placed in the back of the machine. Another thing to consider is fan placement. Dehydrators with fans placed at the top or bottom will dry unevenly so to prevent that, interchange layers every few hours if possible. If not, just remove the bottom layer when ready and leave the top layers to finish dehydrating.
Flash Baking is when you place the treats into the oven to kill off any residual bacteria. I don’t do this BUT if you want to, after the treats/chews are done, you can place them in a preheated oven at 300 F for 3 minutes.
Training Treat Recipe!
I LOVE this recipe to make small pea-sized training treats that I know are good for Stormy and she'll love. As much as I enjoy single-ingredient treats, it's fun to change the consistency up and add some superfood boosters into the batch! If you saw on my Instagram stories this week asking how to grind meat without a grinder, this is why!
This is a super simple recipe that you and your dog will love.
16 oz Lean ground meat of choice
Handful of Spinach
Handful of berries
1 oz Raw Sunflower Seeds
1 oz Pumpkin Puree
2 Large Chicken Eggs
Piping bag (or gallon Ziploc bag)
1. Add 2 lbs of lean ground meat (I'm using 93/7 GF beef) to a large mixing bowl.
2. Grind up 1 oz of raw sunflower seeds in a blender until it is to a powder consistency (pulse rapidly rather than just leaving it to blend) and add to the mixing bowl.
3. Puree berries in the blender then add to bowl. I used organic raspberries and cranberries and they held enough moisture to be blended alone, but if needed add a very small amount of water, bone broth, or raw goat milk.
4. Add spinach and egg together mix then add. Again, when I blended these up they didn't need excess liquid but if needed you can add a small amount.
5. Blend 4 oz of the liver and add to the bowl.
6. Mix ground meat, liver, pureed spinach, egg, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin puree together and stuff mixture into a piping bag or a large gallon Ziploc bag
If you hold the mixture in your hands and it slips through like goo, it's too runny. If so, add a teaspoon of a binder until it thickens. Some binders I like to use are slippery elm powder, diatomaceous earth (food grade), any fruit or veggie powders.
TIP: Mold the piping bag/Ziploc to a large cup for easy filling. When all the mixture is in, twist where at the top and tie a rubber band around the opening to secure.
7. Cut a small hole at the corner of the Ziploc (start small) to allow the mixture to come through.
8. Pipe onto dehydrator trays and leave for 12 hours (Make sure to apply even pressure to the piping bag when piping the mix out otherwise you'll have oblong treats). I piped my rows of delicious treats around 1/2 inch in width.
You can also choose to pipe them into silicone molds if you wish.
9. When they are done cut up to small training size pieces and store appropriately!
You can substitute any ingredients in this recipe and make it your own. For example, subbing the spinach for kale or dandelion greens. Changing sunflower seeds to almonds or Brazil nuts. Switching pumpkin puree for butternut squash, swapping chicken eggs for duck or quail eggs, or taking out the fruits/veggies completely. This recipe is so versatile and you're really able to adjust to any dog's needs!
I hope you gained some takeaways from this and as always thank you so much for stopping by and Always Keep Exploring.