Hello, today we are going to talk about dog treats. It seems that every few weeks anymore, you hear that dog treats made in China are being recalled again! The news blasts that so many dogs have died from this latest batch of bad Chinese treats. I refuse to buy any dog food or treats from China. So I recommend that you read the label on any treats you buy. I’ve noticed a growth in “all natural” treats made by small companies in the USA. This is great, because let’s face it, most typical treats are no more than junk food for dogs. Which is why I am writing this today.
I typically feed my dogs fresh or frozen green beans, fresh baby carrots or fresh raw sweet potato slices as treats. These are high quality, low calorie, nutritious treats and I don’t have to worry about my dogs getting fat. Until recently I would still go out and buy commercial “healthy” treats that were typically dehydrated chicken and something. Of course my dogs love these. Problem is the cost! A bag of 2 to 3 ounces of dehydrated chicken is around $6 and you only get a few pieces. WOW! I looked around different stores and I found that you can not buy any quality food or treats for your dog in supermarket food stores or discount stores. The two major chains of pet stores, Pet Smart and Pet Co, while they have a much higher quality of food and treats, they still are not the best quality. I found that Pet Value and local private pet food stores sell the best quality dog food and treats.
Let’s look at Purina’s “Beggin’ strips”, The Purina website has “made with real beacon” as the ingredients. I “googled Beggin Strips ingredients” and Wikipedia has a list. Each treat is about 30 calories (my Tweeny Dachshunds require 250cal per day), and contain a ton of grain. Incase you did not know, dogs don’t ingest grains very well, they digest corn to well either. Some of the most common allergies in dogs is corn and grains. The main ingredients in “Beggin Strips” are; corn, corn gluten meal, soybean meal and wheat flour, this is in addition to food coloring and dyes. There are also preservatives in the treats.
So, I started buying the dehydrated treats and I would cringe at the price, so I decided to invest in a dehydrator, I figured that with the amount of money I’m spending on treats, I could easily recoup the cost of the dehydrator. So I did some research and I shopped around and I found a dehydrator that I liked. I bought a Nesco American Harvest FD-61 Snackmaster Encore Dehydrator and Jerky Maker (the FD75A is the same dehydrator with a 700 watt heater). Let me tell you what I learned when researching dehydrators. Not all of them are the same. I bought my dehydrator because it has a fan in addition to the heating element, the fan blows the hot air around and over the food, causing it to dry out faster. Some dehydrators just have the heating element. So it is like putting French fries under the hot lamp and waiting days for them to dry out. My dehydrator takes hours to dehydrate food, so I can make more food in less time. My dehydrator is also adjustable. I can set the temperature according to which type of food I’m drying. Some other dehydrators are set at one temp. The NESCO is also expandable (use tray Nesco LT-2SG Add-A-Tray for FD-61/FD-61WHC/FD-75A and FD-75PR Dehydrators, Set of 2 , fits both dehydrators), meaning that it comes with 4 drying trays, but I can buy up to 8 more for a total of 12 trays. If I’m making a big batch of treats, I can use 8 trays, if I’m making a small batch, I use 4 trays. The drying time varies with what I’m making. Sweet potatoes and fruit takes about 6 hours, meat takes 12 at a higher temp.
It is very simple to make treats. The easiest and fastest way is to take a sweet potato and wash it, then slice it like lunch meat into discs. If the discs are thin, you get sweet potato chips. Put the discs in the trays, they can touch but not over lay on each other. Fill the trays up and turn on the dehydrator and come back in 6 to 8 hours. I experiment and I found that if you slice the sweet potato and then drop the slices in boiling water for a few minutes (2-3), the color enhances to a bright orange and the treats come out a little more chewier. Once boiled, put the sweet potato in the trays and dry for the same amount of time 6 to 8 hours.
For chicken treats, I buy chicken breast, rinse and slice into strips. I put the strips onto a baking pan and I bake them at 200 to 300 degrees for 5 minutes to kill and bacteria, then I put them into the drying tray. I turn the temp up to max and I dry for about 8 to 12 hours. I do the same with beef and pork, but you don’t have to precook them, as they don’t have the same level of bacteria. If you want to get fancy, you can wrap the meat around a piece of sweet potato or banana, or carrot and dry them together to get a nice combo treat.
These treats are very nice, good quality treats, you know where they came from and what is in them. But, you need to remember, the meat treats have more calories, these will cause you dog to become overweight if you feed too many to your 4 legged friends.
I haven’t made any yet myself, but there is a gun you can buy, it looks like a cookie press, except the nozzle is bigger. What you do is puree the chicken, sweet potato and anything else you want in your treat. Put the chicken, sweet potato into a blender and puree until it is a paste, add water if needed, then put the paste into the press and press the paste out on to a tray and dry. Now you have shaped treats.
Because, the treats are dried they stay fresh for a pretty long time. So you can make a nice batch and not have to worry about making another for a few weeks. Enjoy making your dogs health and wholesome treats. Your dogs will love them. Daisy