Monday, 29 July 2019
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{RECIPE} Strawberry Mint Chicken Jerky Dog Treats

Chicken jerky dog treats in a bowl on polka dot napkins

We've been DIYing a lot recently, so here is something tasty to break things up on the blog! Mmmm...jerky! Jerky is doggone irresistible to our boys, no matter what the flavour.  Homemade dog jerky is very easy to make it is a great healthy treat option. There is absolutely no need to marinate at all - straight up plain jerky (usually beef) is our go-to meaty dog treat, but experimenting with marinades can be a fun sometimes as well. I've been trying to channel "What would Oli do?" inspiration on treats recently, and this jerky combines chicken with strawberries, which are one of his favourite fruits. You've got to be very quick to beat the dogs to a berry in our garden!

All dogs (excluding special medical conditions) benefit from a healthy high-protein diet and quality meats are a good way of adding extra protein to their diet. As dogs age, like our very special senior Oli, they slow down and burn less energy on exercise and play but this doesn't mean their bodies don't need less protein.  Many veterinary professionals actually recommend a high quality protein-rich diet for seniors to help maintain muscle mass and support organ/immune function in their golden years. And as the old saying goes - you are what you eat...which means you are what your food eats if you're a carnivore, so whether it's for you or your pets always shop consciously.

When making dog jerky, I usually opt for beef, lamb, or fish. These chicken treats are an exception because "What would Oli do?" Haha! Our dogs love chicken, but since they often get chicken as part of their homemade breakfasts, I like to use other things in their treats for variety. I also dislike raw chicken, which is why even though my dehydrator is capable of heating meats to the suitable temperatures for safe jerky making, I still took the extra preparatory step of pre-heating my chicken for added safety as noted in the optional steps below. Healthy dogs are rather robust about their edibles and many people raw feed their dogs, but when it comes to treats for our boys, I tend to be cautious. Remember that in addition to munching dogs, humans will also be handling the jerky when giving out treats so be safe, furfriends.

Chicken can, of course, be dehydrated without marinating. The wet rub marinade is not necessary, but it definitely smelled better than plain chicken to my non-meat-loving nose. I was going to use blackberries (Oli LOVES blackberries), but feared staining the dehydrator trays so opted for strawberry and paired it with a hint of mint. The (optional of course, see tips and tricks below) mint and parsley are dog-friendly herbs, but also help the strawberry rubbed chicken look like a marinade, not just gory pink chicken. Not that the dogs care about such things!

Dalmatian dog begging for homemade chicken jerky treat

{RECIPE} Wet-Rub Marinated Strawberry Mint Chicken Jerky Dog Treats

You can adjust the volumes and/or amount of any ingredient to better suit your dog or personal preferences. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can place your meat on a wire rack over a lined baking tray and use the oven to replicate the function of a dehydrator noting that it is recommended to pre-heat chicken to ~75C then dehydrate at ~60C (refer to the safety link below).

Step-by-step recipe instructions for making homemade chicken jerky dog treats

🥄 Treat Ingredients:

Lean chicken (or other suitable meat of your preference)
1/4 cup strawberries (fresh or thawed from frozen)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried mint
1 tbsp dried parsley
Sprinkle of ground black pepper 

🥄 Making the Treats: 

Marinating: Remove any obvious fat and slice meat into thin strips or small pieces (see tips below), trimming off any excess fat if required. Place in a glass dish (or Ziploc bag, if you prefer).  Combine the marinade ingredients, puree until smooth, combine with the chicken, and mix well to ensure thoroughly coated. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator to marinate (minimum 1 hour recommended minimum and no longer than 24 hours) mixing periodically to ensure all the pieces are well marinated.

Preheating for Added Food Safety (Optional): Preheat oven. Remove from refrigerator and drain excess marinade if/as needed. Arrange strips in a single layer on a prepared baking tray (or trays). Place tray(s) in the oven and bake the chicken strips briefly, using a meat thermometer to sample check that the temperature inside the strips has reached at least 75C. Most food safety guides recommend using an oven temperature of 275F/135C, but higher temperature can be used. Time to reach 75C internal will depend on the ambient temperature, thickness of the strips, and exposure of the strips. Precooked jerky may have a different texture than dried from raw, but my dogs certainly aren't complaining! :)

Dehydrating: Place prepared chicken onto the dehydrator tray. Dehydrate according to your specific dehydrator's settings/instructions for dehydrating chicken meat. The dehydration time will depend on your machine as well as how thick your particularly jerky pieces are, but I generally find mine take around 6 hours, prep method and size depending. Allow to cool thoroughly before storage. Since homemade dog jerky doesn't use preservatives and isn't heavily salted like human jerky, it should be eaten within a few days of making or frozen (my preference) for longer storage. Dehydrated meat stores very well when frozen as it has already been stripped of moisture which mean that it isn't as vulnerable to freezer burn as typical frozen meat.

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.  
  • 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!
  • For safety, start with a quality lean meat, practice safe food handling, and dehydrate with care using meat appropriate oven temperatures and/or dehydrator settings.  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.
  • Mint is a herb that some dogs love, some dogs hate. If your dog is the latter, you can leave it out or swap the add-ins for something they enjoy more. Curious about swapping in different dog-friendly herbs? Check out this little slideshow from Modern Dog for dog-friendly herb ideas 

🦴 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 homemade chicken jerky dog treat

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