I’m not talking cookies or biscuits here (although those are great too!), but bona fide chicken jerky. Our dogs go CRAZY for them and they are a simple, healthy and much cheaper alternative to the ones in the store.
For convenience and because I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it, I used to buy most of our dog’s treats at the store. Now, my pups are my babies, so standard treats just wouldn’t work. Sorry but those artificially colored, hard-to-pronounce ingredient laden “milk” cookies and franken-bacon treats are just not good enough in my book. And after the big scare a couple years back with all the chemicals/preservatives/carcinogenic ingredients in dog food, why would you even want to chance it? Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox here, but let’s just say, I used to buy all natural treats for my dog which = beaucoup bucks.
So in addition to making “cookies” for our dogs, I also make chicken jerky which is uber-easy to make and so much easier on your wallet. The ones we used to get were about $20/container, which held a pound worth of treats. Yeah, that’s crazy, but we were suckers! I got to thinking, “if it’s essentially $20 a pound chicken, why not learn how to make my own?” This way, I can choose the chicken, ensure there’s no preservatives in the process and make my pups very happy.
I usually wait until our local health food store runs a sale on all-natural boneless/skinless chicken breasts (no preservatives/hormone-free) – which when on deep discount can go down to $2/lb and I stock up my chest freezer. Yes, we’re going from $20/lb to $2/lb, folks. I slice up the chicken into long strips, hang them onto oiled metallic skewers and lay perpendicular to the grates in my oven (be sure to line the bottom of oven with foil to prevent the drippings from smoking). Put oven on to 200 degrees, slide a wooden spoon between the oven door and the oven itself to keep it ajar ever so slightly (to release the moisture, which is necessary for jerky, otherwise you’ll just get cooked chicken which won’t last) and leave ‘em in the oven for 4 hours.
Some may argue that it’s a waste of fuel to keep an oven going for 4 hours, but it helps to warm the house in the evening when the heater would be kicking on anyhow, so I see it as a wash. Usually our dogs are sitting by the oven by the time they are finished because the smell of cooked chicken permeates the house and they’re hoping I’ll be generous when I pull the treats out of the oven (of course I am! )
I chop these up into 1″ pieces to really make them last a while (and to not add too many calories to their day) and keep in the fridge so they’ll last a couple weeks (I suppose if I dried for even longer, say 6 hours or so, I wouldn’t need to, but I prefer the method I’ve been using for months now). And that’s it!
Easy on the wallet, easy on the planet (no packaging and nasty chemicals) and oh-so-joyous for the dogs!