Friday, 12 May 2017

Oven-dried treats for dogs (and humans)

In today's post, we're sharing some recipes, from Robin Youl and the K9 Kookbook, for oven-dried jerky that you can create simply at home.

Homemade treats are great: not only do dogs love them, but you'll know precisely where the ingredients come from, and what goes into them. You can tailor you treats to your dog's taste, or dietary requirements … and you can even eat them yourself! All the treats shown here are human-friendly and fine to eat. They have no added salt or sugar either – so are super healthy.

Jerky: Oven-dried Dog Rewards

Exactly what are the nutritional requirements for dogs? Puppies, especially, need every mouthful to be nutritionally beneficial. Small breeds can be a problem, because their tiny tummies fill quickly! Try some healthy home oven-dried alternatives.

Before we get to the specifics, here are a few tips to help tailor your jerky to your dog's needs …

  • Partially freeze meat before slicing and removing fat or sinew: this makes it easier.
  • Leave meat on its packaging tray, or separate portions into individual plastic bags. 
  • Lightly dust chicken livers with cornflour before freezing to make them easier to separate. 
  • Put small quantities in a plastic bag, with ½ cup of cornflour, and shake until all are coated (add more cornflour if needed). 
  • Freeze on the original tray or in portioned bags. 
  • Slicing meat with the grain will make it dry chewier. Slicing against the grain makes it softer.
  • 6.5mm (approx ¼”) is the strip length for the drying time recommended here: if you go bigger, you'll ned to dry for longer.
  • It's easier to cut cooled, larger portions with scissors or a pizza cutter, than with a knife.
  • Dry the meat on a rack in a roasting dish lined with baking paper. 
  • Oven racks can be used, but you'll need to line the base of the oven with aluminium foil – unless you LOVE cleaning your oven!
  • If your oven racks are too wide, put non-galvanized wire mesh on your oven rack. A barbecue grill mesh is designed to be heat-tolerant, but you should check cake cooling trays for heat tolerance, before using.
  • You can also try drying on stainless steel or soaked wooden shaslik or kebab sticks. Cut them so that your product will thread, and adjust cooking times.
  • I dry liver and chicken in the oven on baking paper. Meat and fish is dried on racks in a baking dish, because the oven racks are too big to go in the dishwasher!
  • Space everything evenly, so the meat isn't touching.
  • Jerky should be firm and dry, NOT soft & spongy: remember that you're DRYING the meat, fish, or liver, NOT cooking it.
  • Do NOT refrigerate in plastic bags: it causes sweating. Use plastic containers.
  • Leave the oven door slightly ajar, to enable moisture to escape. You may have to use a well-soaked wooden spoon, or ball of aluminium foil, as a wedge.
  • Oven temperature should be 160ºC / 140º (fan ovens). This may need adjusting – ovens differ!


Lamb or Chicken Liver Jerky
  1. Remove all sinew
  2. Slice into strips
  3. Space on a baking tray lined with baking paper sprayed with non-stick spray. Make sure the strips are not touching
  4. Bake/dry for two hours – turning after one hour
  5. CHECK a sample. Make sure it's DRY before you take it out
  6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes

Keeps for two weeks in the fridge, or four months in the freezer.

Fish Jerky
Use fish fillets, and ensure the fish is lean, not an oily fish.
[Editor's note: Robyn says, "Our Australian Barramundi has the highest Omega 3 content of any white fish. Basa is cheap. Use only fillets!" European or North American readers may be unable to source these species, but ask your fishmonger for a sustainable fish that could be substituted. You can find out which fish are okay to eat at the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide website.]

Because of its high water content, fish needs to be cut larger – TWICE as big
  1. Space in baking dish or on your oven tray
  2. Bake/dry for two hours, turning after one hour
  3. CHECK: is it DRY and FIRM?
  4. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes
Keeps two weeks in a fridge or freezer.

Chicken Breast Fillet Jerky
  1. Place sliced fillets in the oven on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray
  2. Bake/dry two hours, turn after one hour
  3. CHECK: is it DRY and FIRM?
  4. Cool on a wire cooling rack
Keeps for three weeks in the fridge, or eight months in the freezer.

Meat Jerky
Use gravy beef, stewing steak, lean pork, or lamb. The leanest and most nutritious is kangaroo. Check supermarket shelves for specials close to their expiry date.
  1. Place jerky strips directly onto a rack in the oven or use a rack in a baking dish
  2. Bake/dry for up to three hours, and turn regularly
  3. Cool on a wire cooling rack
Keeps for three weeks in the fridge, or eight months in the freezer.



I make small quantities of jerky (about 500g at a time), and I don’t marinade, but if you want to, all jerky is human-friendly: here's some tips …
  • To marinade 1kg of meat, you'll need two cups of fluid
  • Marinades should just cover the meat, fish, or chicken 
Use flaxseed oil (expensive but highly recommended), coconut cooking oil, or extra virgin olive oil (cheapest). Olive oil does not lose its anti-oxidant qualities when heated.

Use ½ cup of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or cranberries (these may a little tart for some dogs).

Grapes and grape by-products are toxic to dogs – NEVER USE THEM. 

Use a blender to mix your marinade, and sweeten with honey if desired. Slice meat/fish/chicken, and place in a plastic bag, along with your marinade. Seal and refrigerate overnight. Here's some marinade ideas:
  1. Unsweetened pineapple juice, minced ginger to taste
  2. Equal quantities of apple cider vinegar and unsweetened apple juice
  3. Peanut Butter – blend and add oil until liquefied to runny consistency
  4. Applesauce – blend and add oil until liquefied to runny consistency
  5. Add one of the recommended berries to your blender to enhance the marinade

A big 'thank you' to Robyn for these recipes. Give them a go: we think you'll find that your dog loves them even more than shop treats, and they make excellent training aids. And snacks for yourself!

If your interest in homemade doggy treats has been piqued, then why not take things a step further? We have two books that are guaranteed to make your dog's mouth water … and yours, too.

Dinner with Rover – Delicious, nutritious meals for you and your dog to share
Share breakfast, lunch or dinner with your canine friend. This book is packed with scrumptious recipes that you and your dog will love! Tried and tested by Rambo and his doggy chums, and approved by a vet for nutritional value, the recipes in this full-colour book will transform mealtimes!
HH4313 • Paperback • 205 x 205mm • 144 pages • 109 colour pictures • ISBN 978-1-845843-13-7
UPC 6-36847-04313-1 • Published November 2010 • ONLY £5.99! eBook edition available

Dog Cookies – Healthy, allergen-free treat recipes for your dog
Do you enjoy treating your dog every now and then with something delicious? The answer is, of course you do! Whether you want to reward him for an achievement during training or just give him a treat from time to time, these little extras will increase his motivation and strengthen the bond between the two of you.
HH4380 • Paperback • 205 x 205mm • 96 pages • 47 colour pictures • ISBN 978-1-845843-80-9
UPC 6-36847-04380-3 • Published April 2011
ONLY £9.99! eBook edition also available

Just a few of the recipes from Dinner with Rover … now doesn't that look appetising. Vegetarian options, too!

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