How do I extend the shelf life of homemade dog treats?

by Lynn

I am thinking of starting a business selling natural homemade dog treats. However, I am curious as to what type of preservatives are used in the healthy treats that sit on store shelves for extended periods of time. All of the homemade dog treat recipes that I found online were intended to be consumed within 1 week, unless they were kept frozen.

Thanks in advance.


Chef's Answer ~ There are several ways of extending the shelf life of homemade dog treats. For starters, I would recommend reviewing my tips and techniques on how to store dog treats. Something as simple as how the treats are stored after they have baked and cooled, can make a huge difference in their shelf life. Air, heat and light will shorten the freshness of even chemically preserved dog treats, not to mention the more natural dog treat recipes. Also, if you have recipes that you are able to bake longer, and remove excess moisture, that will definitely help them last longer and stay fresher. 

There are many options when using preservatives to keep treats fresh. Some of the natural preservatives to choose from include vitamin C. You can also use tocopherols and tocotrienols, or the collective term for these two is vitamin E. You can also use citric acid (like those found in citrus fruits). There are several spices that can help preserve baked goods.  These include cinnamon, sage, rosemary and cloves. Another option is to replace the sugar in your recipes with honey, since honey is a natural preservative.  If the recipe calls for dairy you can replace it with it's dried equivalent.  For example if you use milk, then replace it with powdered milk.  You will have to experiment with the amounts and types of preservatives that will work best for you. 

My last bit of advice is to make sure your customers are aware that you are providing a fresh baked dog treat.  So, it is similar to any other fresh baked (people) treat, it must be bought fresh, bought often and stored properly.  You could let your customers know they can refrigerate and freeze them once they are at home.  I personally think that the delicacy of natural treats is one of their finest selling points.

Comments for How do I extend the shelf life of homemade dog treats?

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Coconut flour
by: Rhonda

I've been making dog treats for my pups for sometimes using the organic rice flour. I'm thinking of trying the organic coconut flour now. It has more protein and fiber. Is this a good flour to use?

Chef's Answer ~ Yes, coconut flour is a wonderful flour to bake with. However, please keep in mind that it does not substitute on a one for one ratio. You will use much less coconut flour for your usual recipes.

You'll have to experiment with your recipes, but I would start with a 1/4 of the amount of coconut flour. So, for example, if your recipe called for 1 cup of rice flour, I would only use 1/4 cup of coconut flour.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients slowly and watch the tiny amount of coconut flour soak up all the liquids. :)

I hope this helps. :)

Chicken treats
by: Lucia

I take boneless chicken breasts, boil them and refrigerate them until they are cold. I then slice them up into round thin shapes and bake them until they are hard without burning. I would like to make and sell them. How can I preserve them to last and what do you think the shelf life would be.
Many thanks

Chef's Answer ~ One of the best ways to preserve jerky is with a vacuum sealer. Once they are sealed, you should be able to keep them fresh in the freezer for 9 to 12 months. Please keep in mind that these are guidelines. You'll need to experiment and test this with your own dog treats and recipe. I hope this helps. :)

by: Olivia

I just made dog biscuits with white and wheat flour. Was not aware that most dogs have allergies when it comes to wheat. Why then is wheat included in most recipes?

Chef's Answer ~ Some dogs can be sensitive to wheat, but not most. Whole wheat flour in moderation and in homemade dog treats can be a healthy alternative to bleached white flour. It is readily available and so is often used in dog treat recipes.

However, since you are making these treats yourself, you can easily make changes to the recipe to suit your dog. You can use a pre-mixed gluten and wheat free flour blend. Or, you can make your own by whisking together 1/2 cup Garbanzo bean flour, 1/4 cup almond flour and 1/4 cup tapioca starch. Use these measurements to replace 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

by: Colleen

This is awesome! I have also decided to try my hand at making my own dog treats and biscuits. If they turn out okay I will look into the selling aspect. However, I am a bit bewildered. How do you price your treats to sell? I have been wracking my brains on this one.

Chef's Comments ~ A lot will depend on the ingredients that you use, the size of the bag of treats you intend to sell and what other dog bakers are charging in your local area. Or, if you will be selling them online, what the moderate price range is for the type of treat you will be selling.

I hope this helps. :)

Dehydrating dog treats
by: Anonymous

I baked some dog treats and then they were in the dehydrator for about 10 hours...really crunchy on the outside then moist on the inside...they were probably about a 1/2 inch do you know if enough moisture was taken out without making them hard as a rock??

Thank you!!

Chef's Answer ~ A hard outside and a soft inside of your dog treat would make me think that your dough is very dense. That's not necessarily a problem. I would try poking a small hole in the bottom of the treats with a toothpick. This may allow enough moisture to be released from the center of the treat without effecting how the top of the treat looks.

I hope this gets you started on a solution. :)

My dog treats develop mold
by: Hellen

Hi, I am producing several types of dog treats, which are similar to cookies, but they are developing mold after two weeks of production. What can I do?

Chef's Answer ~ First you will need to consider how you are storing them. Are they in an air tight container?

Second, you may want to consider a dog treat preservative to keep your treats fresher, longer.

I hope this helps. :)

What's the best home made dog treat recipe that lasts the longest
by: gemma

Hi i am thinking of making some dog xmas cookies for family dogs and was wondering what the best recipe is for the longest use by date?
Many thanks Gemma

Chef's Answer ~ There isn't just one dog treat recipe that you could use, but there are some tips to keep in mind.

Please review my list of tips on how to store homemade dog treats for the longest shelf life.

And my helpful tips on mailing homemade dog treats, if you were going to be shipping any as gifts.

Also, you could consider making the homemade dog treats and then freezing them. Once you're ready to give them as treats, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then package as usual.

I hope this helps. :)

by: Anonymous

I make natural dog treats. I add a couple of different things to it ie: baby food vegetable stock, honey, egg and peanut butter .and oats What preservative should I use. How can I make them hard like those sold in the pet stores. What do I need to purchase?

Chef's Answer ~ I'll try to answer your questions as best I can. However, please keep in mind that you will need to do some experimenting to find the right combination of tactics for you.

I highly recommend the products at K9 Cakery. They also have a couple dog treat preservatives to choose from.

To make really hard dog treats, you may want to consider dehydrating them after they are baked. You can do this in a very low temperature oven or in a dehydrator. How long will depend on the size and thickness of your treats.

I hope this helps you get started in the right direction. :)

Substitute flour
by: Diana Carney

Can Tapioca Flour be substituted for white flour in equal amounts?

Chef's Answer ~ No. Tapioca flour is actually a starch and usually added to gluten free flour mixes to improve the texture of the finished dog treat.

I hope this helps. :)

What's the best icing for dog treats?
by: renee

whats the best icing recipe to make for dog treats? I tried the egg one & the powdered sugar one & neither turned out good. The egg was too runny & the powdered sugar was to clumpy even after adding more water. I want something that is good for my pets. Thanks

Chef's Comments ~ First, let me please clarify which recipe you used. The "egg one", was that my egg paint icing recipe? If so, then it is suppose to be "runny" because it is more of a glaze that is put on before the dog treat is baked. It gives the finished dog treat a shiny color, instead of a thick application of a traditional frosting or icing.

If the "powdered sugar" one was a royal icing recipe, the sugar has to be whisked for quite a while to become smooth. You may also want to try sifting the powdered sugar before mixing it to get a better consistency. That being said, a royal icing is not the best dog treat icing since it is primarily made up of sugar.

My cream cheese dog treat icing may be a good option for you. If you need it to be thin like a true icing or glaze, then I would recommend adding a bit of water or low sodium chicken broth to the recipe, a little at a time to get the consistency you want.

There isn't just one answer to what is the best dog treat icing. It depends on your dog, the treat you're making and the reason you are decorating your homemade dog treats. I hope that this information is helpful or at least gets you started in the right direction. :)

Best Flour for Dog Treat Recipes
by: Dawn

Is tapioca flour, barley, spelt and sweet white rice flour ok? How much do you substitute it for an all purpose flour recipe?

Chef's Comments ~ The flours you mentioned are fine to use in most dog treat recipes. The tapioca flour is more of a starch than a flour. Although it can be helpful in some recipes to add a small amount of this ingredient.

If your dog treat recipe calls for 1 cup of all purpose or whole wheat flour you want to use one cup of Barley - or - Spelt - or Rice Flour. But, if you want you can use a mixture of these. There is a lot of flexibility when using flours for our dog treats.

I hope this has helped. :)

Dog cookies
by: Ruby

I am wondering if you add vitamin c and dehydrate, do you still need to put them in the fridge?

Chef's Answer ~ Only you can answer that question because you can see the moisture content of your homemade dog treats. There are two pages on my site that you may want to review to help you make a decision. One all about how to store homemade dog treats and another page on dog treat preservatives.

These two pages and products should help you make your homemade dog treats last even longer.

I hope this helps! :)

Dehydrating Dog Treats
by: Janine

I LOVE this site!! It is helping me so much with starting my own homemade dog treat business.

I was just wondering, I was on someones web site a few weeks ago, and they mentioned that their treats were baked and then dehydrated. Would dehydrating them after baking allow them to last longer or would it ruin the treats? Don't know if this is important to your answer, but I was using whole wheat flour until I discovered that most dogs are allergic to wheat. I have now switched to Rye flour. I use vitamin C in my treats for health and as a preservative, but I'm not really sure of how much to use per batch. Each batch makes about 20 3" X 1-1/2" X 1/2" thick treats.

Chef's Comments ~ Presumably, yes, dehydrating dog treats after baking them would allow them to last longer since they are extracting more moisture from the treats.

The amount of preservatives you use in your treats varies on so many different things, that I would not be able to answer how much you should put in. It will most likely need to be a trial and error kind of thing until you determine the right amount to add.

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