Tuesday, 7 May 2019
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{RECIPE} Crunchy Dehydrated Fish Jerky Dog Treats

Copper bowl filled with homemade dehydrated fish jerky dog treats

Stinky fishes? Oli and Humphrey's favourite dishes! So delicious! Fish treats are very attractive high-value goodies for our boys, and homemade dehydrated fish treats take the drool factor to the max. I'm a-ok tasty treats being a little smelly since fish are nutritious and delicious, plus there are numerous low(er) purine lean fish options, which is great for moderating purines for our Dalmatians.

The best fish to use will depend on your local options and your budget, but I recommend using a lean fish with a nice firm flesh. Oily fish, like salmon, have a different finished texture and a much shorter shelf life, unless frozen. I'll share my stinky salmon strips and brittle bites with you in a future post. The fresher the fish, the better the quality of your jerky.  Tip: Since dehydrator treats store well and freeze great, I like to keep an eye out for sales and take advantage of those when dehydrating treats. 

Unlike a meat jerky, which I usually prefer to dehydrate plain (although I do occasionally experiment with marinades), I like to marinate fish in a lemon-based marinade before dehydrating. My basic fish marinade is made with diluted lemon juice and dried parsley. Bathing or marinating fish with acid causes a protein reaction which lightly "cooks" the flesh, firming the flesh and shifting colour (whiter and more opaque in this case, as we're using a white fleshed fish). It also smells less fishy... although nowhere near enough to avoid the fishilicious stench of dehydration! Note Humphrey's very attentive sous-chef support in the collaged images below.

Steo-by-step instructions for making homemade dehydrated fish jerky dog treats

Crunchy Dehydrated Fish Jerky Dog Treats 

🥄 Treat Ingredients:
Lean Fish (cleaned, deboned, and thawed if applicable)
Optional Marinade: Lemon Juice, Water, and Dog-Friendly Herbs 

🥄 Making the Treats: 

Starting with cleaned and deboned fish, rinse the fish in cold water (optional), and then slice into thin strips/pieces. The fish will shrink as it dehydrates, so upsize for shrinkage if you wish to have larger finished treats. 

To marinate (optional), combine the marinade ingredients in a non-metallic/non-corrosive dish. Mix with the prepared fish to ensure thoroughly coated.  Cover the container and place in the refrigerator to marinate, mixing periodically to ensure all the pieces get a nice bath in the marinade. If pre-heating (optional - see note below), do this after marinating and before dehydrating.

Once ready to dehydrate, arrange the prepared pieces onto the dehydrator tray. Dehydrate according to your specific dehydrator's settings/instructions for dehydrating meat/fish. The dehydration time will depend on your machine as well as how thick your particularly jerky pieces are, but expect it to take quite a while and be very stinky! I like to dehydrate fish on a nice day, start early so we have plenty of dry time, and leave the dehydrator plugged in on the patio instead of in the house!  

Transfer the dehydrated fish onto an oven-safe tray and briefly bake at a high temperature (optional - see note below) for safety and/or added crunchiness. 

If your dehydrator has a suitable meat/fish setting, fish jerky should be ready to serve once the dehydration is complete; however, just to be a little extra safety conscious, I like to pop mine briefly into a very hot oven. It stinks, but the dogs don't mind! It also increases the crunch factor in these treats.  Various food safety control measures help to minimise the risks of parasites in store-bought seafood; however, if you are concerned that your chosen fish may contain parasites, extended pre-freezing (or freezing the finished jerky), pre-heating, and/or exposure to high(er) temperatures can be used as added precautions.

Allow to cool thoroughly before storage. Store in a sealed container in dry ambient conditions or freeze for longer storage. Shelf life will depend on the dryness of your jerky and ambient conditions.  Since dog jerky doesn't have added salt or preservatives, I like to simply freeze my jerky. Dehydrated food stores very well when frozen as it has already been stripped of moisture which mean that it isn't as vulnerable to freezer burn. It freezes great, lasts for ages, and the dogs enjoy it both straight from the freezer or defrosted in small quantities. 

Tips and Tricks:
  • There are a variety of jerky recipes on the blog, but a great starting point is the comprehensive post on making and storing homemade jerky and and other dehydrated dog treats. It will take you through the basics of dehydrating treats, different types of dehydrated treats, food safety, and treat storage tips.  
  • For safety, start with a quality lean fish, practice safe food handling, and dehydrate with care using appropriate dehydrator settings or oven temperatures.  Although jerky is often kept at room temperature, we freeze and keep only small quantities in the treat jar or fridge to be on the safer side. You can read more about jerky safety via the FSIS.
  • Leaner is better when it comes to making jerky.  Oily fish is harder to dehydrate evenly and oily jerky has a higher risk of going rancid (unless frozen).
  • The easiest way to marinate jerky (or just about anything really...) is to toss everything into a Ziploc bag; however, if you're like us and trying to reduce your waste then a dish is a-ok!

🦴 Hungry for more tasty treats?  You can explore from our treat navigation page, hop straight into our homemade dog treat ideas in the blog archives, search the blog from our sidebar, or use the labels below this post to find other recipes that might be of interest. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes/dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what's suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.

Dalmatian dog begging for a dehydrated fish jerky dog treat


  1. In fact, I am a bit afraid of the smell - but for the sake of my dog I will try it out ... ;-)

    1. Haha! Yes...be afraid, very afraid! :)

      You can use an oven to dehydrate food, but if you have a plug-in dehydrator, I highly recommend dehydrating fish treats outdoors. Or at least do it on a dry warm-ish day where you can open windows and air out the house.

      Very worthwhile though for such yummy, tasty, healthy treats!

  2. Put your dehydrator in the garage or outside :)

    1. Haha! I like to put ours out on the patio, weather permitting. The dogs keep it well guarded. :)


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