Thursday, December 6, 2012
These chews are incredibly easy to make and super inexpensive. Better yet, they're super healthy. Store-bought dog chews and treats often contain additives and preservatives, just like a lot of 'human food.' By making the chews at home, you know exactly what you're feeding your dog. Also, if you're an 'all-natural nut' like me, making them from scratch gives you the opportunity to add wholesome ingredients to make them that much healthier! (See below for flavor suggestions that pack a healthy punch!) Your pup will love these stocking stuffers, and I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did!
Flavoring ideas and their health benefits
You can develop your own custom flavors by adding different herbs and spices to the beef before drying. Aside from the additional flavor they bring, incorporating these ingredients into their treats can be very beneficial to your dogs health. Since I'm a big fan of herbs and spices used for health purposes, and a strong believer in their effectiveness, I've decided to share a list of a few herbs that may be helpful in alleviating and/or preventing health problems in your dog. Of course, your dog doesn't have to be suffering from any of these issues in order to enjoy these flavorings- He'll just be enjoying a super delicious snack that happens to be healthy, too!
Bad breath - Parsley, Rosemary
To repel ticks and fleas - Garlic
Digestive discomfort - Ginger, Catnip, Chamomile, Basil
Inflammation (arthritis, injuries, skin irritations, etc) - Chamomile, Rosemary, Basil
Anxiety/nervousness - Chamomile, Catnip
Boost immune function - Garlic, Ginger, Sage, Oregano
Infection - Sage, Oregano, Thyme
Complete list of safe herbs for dogs
Feel free to mix and match and experiment with different herbs and spices- just make sure to research an ingredient to be sure it is safe for dogs before using it in the chews. I don't recommend adding salt, as too much sodium is not good for your dog. Also, avoid using spicy seasonings, like black pepper or cayenne.
What You Need
Very lean beef - Beef top round steak, flank steak or rump roast
Dried herbs or spices of your choice (optional)
Butcher twine or string
Wire rack (I used a cookie cooling rack)
Slice the beef (with the grain) into strips, about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick and 4 - 6 inches long. (For easier cutting, place the meat in the freezer prior to slicing just until ice crystals begin to form)
Pat meat dry with a paper towel
If you're seasoning the meat, roll the strips in the herbs or spices of your choice, or sprinkle over top.
Use a piece of twine to tie 3 strips of meat together at one end. Tightly braid the strips, then tie the bottom ends together with another piece of twine.
Use the convection setting on your oven, and heat to 130 degree Fahrenheit. (Convection is ideal, because it circulates the air around the meat.) If your oven does not have a convection setting, heat to 150 degrees and leave the oven door open a crack.
Place braids on wire rack and put in oven. Cook for 4-5 hours. Turn down the oven temperature to its lowest setting and continue cooking braids for several hours. My oven's lowest temperature is 100 degrees, so I left the braids to finish drying overnight. If your oven does not go that low, just use the lowest possible temperature and allow the braids to dry another 3-5 hours. The braids are finished drying when they have shrunk to about half their size, are a dark color and are hard.
Untie the ends of the braids. The braids are ready to be devoured!
Store in an air-tight container or zip-top bag.