In order to offset our escalating dog-ownership costs, I made the commitment to stop buying dog treats. Instead, I would make them all myself. The only exception to this is Fromm’s Pork and Peas Kibble, which at four dollars a pound is vastly more economical than anything I can make. Otherwise, all of the treats that Silas can eat tend to be quite pricey.
Because Silas is picky and has a sensitive stomach, and because I’m kind of lazy about actual baking, this mostly has me slaving over chopping turkey up into the dehydrator. Recommended equipment: a great pair of kitchen scissors.
If you can get it, turkey breast is far and away the easiest. The trick to turkey breast is to cut it across the grain of the meat. Then, you can leave the treats in long strips and break them up as needed. If you cut with the grain, you won’t be able to break the treat up once it’s dried. Also, trim out any connective tissue or fat, because they don’t dry well. The great thing about these treats is that they require minimal chopping and are very dry and clean, with minimal stink factor. The down side is the price. Because I can only find added-sodium free turkey breast at the fancy grocer, it’s $6-$7/lb. By the time you dehydrate it, this is not significantly cheaper than store-bought treats.
Next up on our order of preference is turkey hearts. Turkey hearts are cheap if you can find them–one pound, which yields three or four ounces of treats, costs less than $2. They require more cutting work than turkey breast, though. You have to remove whatever fat is on the outside of the heart. Also, you can’t break turkey heart once it’s dehydrated, so you have to snip it into fairly small pieces if you want training-sized treats. If you do a good job of trimming off the fat, these are also clean and non-greasy enough to carry in your pocket. They are a little smellier, though.
From time to time I break out the big guns–liver. I hate chopping liver to dehydrate. It is so slippery and gross. It also makes your entire house smell like cooking liver, and liver smell will permeate anything that you carry treats in. Don’t put it in your pocket loose! The real trick with liver is to use the solid dehydrator trays that they recommend for fruit jerky. On the mesh trays, the liver will ooze down between the bars and be very difficult to remove. (Sorry if I just ruined fruit rollups for you forever.) You can break liver up once it’s dried, but make sure that you get the pieces thin enough to dehydrate properly. Even fully dry, liver doesn’t keep quite as well as the others–I try to store it in the freezer and grab a handful at a time. Dehydrated liver still packs a good nutritional punch. It’s especially useful for raw fed dogs who don’t really like raw liver. Just watch how much you give at one time–it can cause a little stomach upset.
This is part of the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop
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