You’ve made some delicious DIY Dog Treats for your dog – now what?!
One of the most common questions I get asked is: How do you store homemade dog treats and how long will they last?
Well. There’s no easy answer. I know. Boo.
How to store your DIY dog treats, and how long those dog treats will be good for will depend on the ingredients you used, and how you prepared them.
Dog treats are often made with little or no sugar. This makes for a healthier, more species-appropriate snack, but sugar plays an important roll in human baking! It can actually slow microbial growth and help preserve treats. Since none of our homemade dog treats contain enough sugar to help preserve them, proper storage is extra important. Moisture, fat, dairy, and meat can all contribute to those heartfelt dog treats you made in your own kitchen spoiling faster than you would like.
Storing home-baked dog treats
Soft baked dog treats like cakes or drop cookies should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, unless they’ve been made with perishable ingredients like cheese, cream cheese, or meat. These treats are more prone to spoilage (and could even make your dog sick if stored improperly!) Store dog treats made with perishable ingredients in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Freshly made, home-baked soft dog treats can be stored for 3 – 5 days or for a longer shelf-life, frozen for up to three months.
Hard Baked dog treats like rolled cookies that have been baked until crisp or dried in the dehydrator should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Dehydrating your dog treats so that the moisture is removed is a great way to ensure your homemade dog treats last longer than a few days. To ensure they’re completely dry, always do a snap test. A dehydrated dog cookie should have a clean, crisp snap and there should be no visual moisture in the center of the treat. (Most moisture spots will often look darker than fully dried cookies and, in some cases, you’ll be able to break the dried parts off the moister center. If this happens, return the cookies to the oven or dehydrator on the lowest setting and dry for a few more hours.
Hard baked or Dehydrated DIY dog cookies can be stored for 2 – 3 weeks or, for a longer shelf life, frozen for up to three months.
Storing Dehydrated Dog Jerky
Homemade jerky treats are one of my very favourite things to make. They’re so easy to prepare, they preserve like a dream and it’s super rare that I have a batch spoil faster than Kolchak can eat them!
But, there are some things you need to know when making and storing your homemade jerky treats. The fat content of your meat, how well-dried the jerky is, and whether you flash-cooked the meat all contribute to how long your jerky will last.
Use lean meats where possible and trim off any fatty pieces. Fat will go rancid faster than lean meat, so you want to limit or eliminate it wherever possible.
Make sure treats are fully dried. For a flexible jerky, use scissors to cut a piece in half. It should be evenly dried all the way through. For crisp jerky, pieces should cleanly snap in half with no moisture remaining in the center.
You have two options to ensure bacteria and pathogens are killed off:
1. Precook your meat: Several of our treats like out leftover turkey jerky or our trout jerky, recommend cooking the meat before drying it. This technique creates a completely different texture of jerky than drying from raw, but is one way to ensure things like trout flukes are fully eradicated.
2. Flash cooking your dog jerky after dehydrating: This is our favourite method as it preserves that classic chewiness of a traditional dog jerky treat. To kill off pathogens, pre-heat your oven to 275F, layout jerky pieces on a baking tray, and bake for 10 minutes. Allow jerky pieces to cool completely.
Store dehydrated jerky treats for dogs in an airtight container in a cool dry place for 2 – 3 weeks. For longer-lasting storage, you can vacuum seal jerky to ensure no moisture gets in and freeze for up to 3 months.
How to tell if your homemade dog treats have spoiled
Like all fresh foods, freshly baked dog treats can go bad. Even if you do your best to preserve them. Even if you store them absolutely correctly. But since you’re probably not going to pop one into your own mouth, how will you know when your dog treats have spoiled?
Texture – Soft baked treats will go dry and crumbly when they stale. On the flip side, hard-baked treats and jerky will become more flexible and moist.
Visible Moisture – If you put treats away when they are too warm or as they release moisture, you might find there is actual droplets or mist of moisture inside the container. Unfortunately, once this happens, it’s time to toss those treats.
Smell – This can be a tough one especially with meaty treats that may not small like a traditional cookie. Look out for musty, dusty type odors.
If your treats have nut butter in them, they may smell a little like paint or nail polish and meaty treats could start to smell sour or sharp.
Visible mold – This one seems obvious, but mold is trickier than you think! Look for small, pinhead white dots, small patches of fuzz, or discoloured areas on the surface of your treat.
Once a DIY dog treat starts to spoil, there isn’t anything you can do to save it. Spoiled treats need to be thrown away for the health and safety of your dog.
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