Making dog treats does not take a lot of skills and knowhow. Even small children can make some decent treats for the family dog. Just relax and have some fun making them. Your dog will love you for trying.
Don't know how to make dog treats? The task just seems too daunting and time-consuming for you? Fear that your dog will turn his nose away from your treats? (Oh, the rejection!)
If you are just starting to try to figure out how to make dog treats, it may be natural that you have the kind of feelings mentioned above. Well, don't let that stop you!
Making dog treats is not rocket science - everyone can do it. There is no failure, just lessons learned. And let's face it, you don't have to make perfect biscuits - your dog simply doesn't care if the round biscuit is a perfect circle, or if the cat-shaped cookie is missing a tail, or the color is a bit, well, "dull". All your dog cares about is, "can I have more?"
There are dog treat ingredients that are healthy, natural and safe for dogs, and then there are some that are not. Visit these two pages if you are not sure:
If you are just starting out on this exciting dog treating making journey, get a flour that is easy to handle (I recommend whole oat flour - you can even make it yourself - use an immersion blender to grind up some oatmeal and you will get oat flour.) Afterwards, you can try experimenting with different flours.
Time and oven temperature required to make the treats of course depends on the ingredients and the type of treats you are going to make. Each recipe here will indicate the temperature and cooking/baking time so you don't have to worry about anything!
You will need some basic tools, which most likely you will already have in your kitchen:
We can't have a page on "How to Make Dog Treats" without also discussing how to store and keep them fresh, can we?
Artificial preservatives contain harmful chemicals so they are definitely no-nos for use.
As for natural preservatives, some people suggest using vitamin E (mixed Tocopherols), vitamin C (Ascorbic acid), or rosemary oil extract (ROE) for all types of baked goods. However, you will see from what follows that they don't work the same!
To keep the shelf life of food longer, we need to prevent the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, mold and yeast, so we need to add a preservative that has antimicrobial properties.
Rosemary oil extract has antimicrobial properties; vitamin C, being acidic, also has some antimicrobial properties, but vitamin E does not so vitamin E cannot prevent mold or bacteria from growing on your dog biscuits or muffins.
In addition to preventing bacterial growth, if the food contains oil or fat, as in most baked goods, we also need an antioxidant to prevent the oxidation of fats, keeping them from going rancid.
ROE and vitamin E have fat-antioxidant properties, but vitamin C is not a fat-antioxidant since it is water soluble, so it cannot prevent fat from going rancid.
So what do we have here? It seems that rosemary oil extract is the best preservative as it can both prevent fat from going rancid and bacterial growth. Vitamin E can only prevent oxidation but not bacterial growth, so if your baked treats do not contain fat or oil, adding vitmain E is useless. In that case, either ascorbic acid or ROE can be used. Note however that according to Wikipedia, eighty percent of the world's supply of ascorbic acid is produced in China (red flag!), so be sure to check the source.
As for me, I don't use preservatives at all in my dog treats, as they never last long enough to go rancid or moldy!
If you store your meatless, dry dog biscuits (cooled down to room temperature) in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they will last for at least 2-3 weeks. For treats that are more moist (muffins, cake) or contain meat, they will last much shorter, maybe 7-10 days in the fridge.
If you want the biscuits to be harder and drier (hence last longer), leave them in the oven for a few hours after it has been turned off, with the oven door open just a bit.
Dog treats should of course be given in moderation. As a general rule of thumb, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's total daily calorie requirement. Over that amount and you will risk upsetting the nutritional balance of your dog's diet.