Nutritious and delicious: Dehydrating treats for your dog.

IMG_20130214_214503  “In November 2011 the Food and Drug Administration issued a cautionary warning regarding chicken jerky products from China after receiving over 1,000 reports of illness associated with the consumption of the product.” (Palika, 2013) With all the recalls on chicken jerky treats from China this last year I have become more and more wary of commercial dog treats. And if I’m making the big move away from commercial dog food why not treats as well. For my birthday last year my mom gave me my very own food dehydrator. Never would I have thought when I was younger that I would start asking for kitchen appliances as Christmas and birthday presents. (I got a bread maker for Christmas last year and hope for canning supplies this year.)

Most meats, fruits and vegetables can be dried, such as:

  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pig
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Carrots

Don’t be afraid to get a little creative! Only use things that are fresh though. Don’t dehydrate anything for your dogs that you wouldn’t eat yourself. In fact, when I’m dehydrating stuff for me I usually put aside a portion of it for the dogs.

Dehydrating homemade treats for your dog removes moisture thus inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. The nutrients, however remain intact unlike cooking the treats because the temperatures used in dehydration are lower.

Be careful not to over-dry your treats. Certain foods will lose their nutrients if dried too much. You will know when your meat and fish are dry when they are leathery and tough. Fats might still appear moist making them a little more tricky to tell when dry. The leaner the cut of meat the better it will dry. Vegetables will be crisp. dried bananasFruits will have no more spots of moisture but are still pliable. Tear the piece of fruit in half, if there are no more spots of moisture then it is done. Some fruits need to be pre-treated before dehydration to prevent discoloration. Mix about 3 cups of water with a few tablespoons of lemon juice and dip the fruit in the mixture before dehydration. Also check your foods every couple of hours. They all dry at different rates. After drying store in air tight containers preferably in the fridge or freezer.

I will be making a batch of Flaxseed Salmon Treats soon so keep an eye out for that post. Happy drying!

Citation:

-Palika, Liz. (2013 Annual) Do-It-Yourself Dehydrated Dog Treats. Natural Dog, 28 – 35.

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Nakia’s Cinnamon-Sweet Potato Crunchers

I got the basic recipe for these treats from stubbydog.org. I have been doing some reading on the benefits of cinnamon and decided to modify the stubby dog recipe with my own little kick. (I will write more on cinnamon at a later date.) I first made a batch of the stubby dog Easy Sweet Potato Crunchers. They are so easy it’s stupid. Just cut up sweet potatoes and stick them in the oven at 250 degrees for about 2 hours.

Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients, such as:nakia sweet potato treat

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Calcium
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron

Most dogs love sweet potatoes because of their sweet taste and they are easy to digest. Nakia has always LOVED sweet potatoes so I named my version after her. These are delicious and nutritious for people too! Recipe can easily be doubled, even tripled.

Nakia’s Cinnamon-Sweet Potato Crunchers

  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2. Wash potatoes and  slice into 1/4 inch slices.

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3. Put in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Mix in cinnamon.

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5. Lay flat on an ungreased cookie sheet.

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5. Bake for two hours, flipping halfway through.

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6. Turn off oven. Let sit in oven for another hour or two.

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7. Store in air tight container.

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Winter squash, green bean & apple puree

I have used up all of the beef liver vegetable puree that I mentioned in my last two posts so today I made a new one…plus some of the vegetables in my fridge needed to be eaten ASAP. I still have some of the old puree in the freezer but as I mentioned I needed to use up some of the stuff in my fridge.

My last vegetable puree still in the freezer

My last vegetable puree still in the freezer

This time I didn’t use the liver. Partly because I hadn’t defrosted any of the liver I had in the freezer and partly because I didn’t want to deal with any raw meat at the moment.

Today my puree had:

  • 1/2 a baked spaghetti squash
  • Roughly 16 oz Raw Eat Smart butternut squash
  • 2 tsp Kirkland Signature minced California garlic

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  • 4 fresh garlic cloves
  • Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed snack

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  • 2 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Organic 100% Whole Ground Golden Flaxseed Meal
  • 12 oz Bird’s Eye Steamfresh cut green beans
  • 1/2 honey crisp apple

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I started with some spaghetti squash I cooked for my own meal a few days earlier. I then added some raw cubed butternut squash I bought from Costco.IMAG0642

 

I added about 2 teaspoons of minced garlic also from Costco then noticed I had some fresh garlic that needed to be eaten so I put 4 cloves of fresh garlic in the food processor.

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All the while I was steaming a bag of green beans in the microwave.

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While the green beans were cooking I crumbled some seaweed into the squash and garlic mixture followed by about 2 tablespoons of ground golden flax seed meal. The jury is still out on flax seed. I am not sure at the moment if dogs actually absorb any of the nutrients from flax seed or if it just acts as extra fiber.

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I then added the green beans and half of a honey crisp apple.

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I set that to puree and put some of it into small Tupperware containers in the freezer. The rest I put in an airtight container in the fridge for my dog’s meals this week. All the dogs loved it!

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