Virtually all pets love treats, including dogs, cats, horses, fish, rabbits and other small animals.  With all of the recalls and warnings about deadly pet treats, many pet parents are going the DIY route. While making natural homemade pet food and treats is the ultimate goal for most, we still lead busy lives and are always looking for ways to make optimum nutrition more convenient.

Using a dehydrator is one way to add convenience, plus you’ll be able to feed nutritious food on the go. You can make dehydrated treats using one ingredient, use a regular pet “cookie” recipe, or puree a combo like we do with Bottom Bites natural fish food.

One of the most terrifying mistakes we’ve seen pet parents make is improper drying procedures for meat, which is even more frightening when they dehydrate raw meat. It’s critical that you use proper equipment and methods to prevent illness, be it your pet or yourself from handling the treats.

How to Safely Dehydrate Meat Pet Treats

Seven Tips for Safely Dehydrating Meat-Based Pet Treats

  1. The dehydrator must be able to maintain a temperature of 145°F, preferably higher. Test your empty dehydrator to ensure it is reaching the temperature it’s set for. If it doesn’t allow you to set the temperature, chances are it won’t be hot enough.
  2. Always use extra-lean meat. It’s the fats that pose the biggest threat of going rancid.
  3. Meat should be in thin slices, approximately 1/4″ thick.  Cold meat is easiest to slice.
  4. I’m not a fan of amateurs dehydrated raw meat with anything but industrial equipment. Very few home dehydrators maintain a high enough temperature to safely dehydrate raw meant or seafood, and they were never designed to do so. At the very least, cut extra-lean meat into 1/4″ strips and place in a preheated 275°F oven for a minimum of 10 minutes, or boil/steam to reach a high enough temperature to kill pathogens. You can also use the oven after the treats are dehydrated. To kill insect and parasite eggs and larvae, continue to heat for 15-30 minutes.
  5. Don’t forget the natural pet supplements! They’ll add nutrition and some have antioxidant properties.  How to Naturally Supplement DIY Dehydrated Pet Treats.
  6. Natural preservatives won’t help much with whole meats. However, if you’re blending or grinding meat-based treats you can mix in seaweed, Rosemary, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin E, raw Sea Salt and Calcium Montmorillonite Clay. Guar Gum (Cyamopsis tetragonolobus) inhibits mold growth. If at any point you see mold or the food smells different, the batch must be thrown out.
  7. Is it done? There are too many possible variants to say how much time it will take to dehydrate meat. It’s important that virtually all moisture be removed. You can remove the pet treats from the dehydrator, allow to cool for a few minutes, then simply touch them to see if they feel dry.

Note of Caution:  Always wash your hands thoroughly after testing or handling dehydrated pet treats.

Jerky and other dehydrated meat-based pet treats last for up to two months at room temperature. You can freeze them for up to six months and this is the safest option. In both cases, you’ll get a longer shelf life if you vacuum-seal them or store in an air-tight container.

??? Do you make dehydrated pet treats for your pets? Please share your tips or questions in the comments below.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Using Nutritive Herbs for Pet Dietary Supplements (with Recipe)
Holistic Dog Food Recipe – Healthy Digestion Pumpkin Meatloaf
DIY Natural Shaker Supplements for Homemade Pet Food


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9 thoughts on “How to Safely Dehydrate Meat Pet Treats

  1. Making jerky for dogs is so rewarding. They don’t care about seasoning or what it looks like, they just gobble it like any other meat. It keeps them busy longer though and it slows down their eating.

  2. I’ve always thought jerky was dangerous. Something about meat sitting around on a shelf didn’t appeal to me and I thought it must have tons of preservatives. I’ve sure learned about it today, thanks.

  3. I’ve been making jerky for almost 20 years. Things have changed a bit, it’s a little more healthy now for one thing. We used to use a lot of salt which made it go great with beer. 😉 Not so good for pets though.

  4. I haven’t decided if I want to buy a dehydrator yet but I think I’ll go for it. I’d like to make things for all family members including our many pets. Thanks for the direction!

  5. That’s exactly why pet owners have to stop, think and LEARN before they start making their own pet food!

  6. I’ve been making jerky for our babies ever since the first jerky recall. They love it and I love controlling what I add. Everyone should be doing it!

  7. OMG…..I hope I haven’t made my dogs sick using a cheap dehydrator. It doesn’t have a temperature dial! Thanks for this important info.

  8. I don’t know the temperature of mine so I guess I should get one with temperature settings on it. I’ve made treats with cooked meat bits in them and they seem fine but I would like to try raw treats.

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