I have never used a dehydrator for anything, but with all the scares and recalls on dog treats, I started to wonder if that wasn’t the way to go. But had I had a couple questions: how easy are they to use? Will it really save me money?
When I got the Excalibur 5-tray Dehydrator I was nervous – it looked big and complicated and I wondered if I could burn my house down with it.
However, it comes with super-easy instructions, not to mention a 183-page recipe book for making pretty much anything (did you know you can dry your own milk?!).
It does take up quite a bit of counter space, but it sets up in seconds and you are ready to start drying in no time flat – love that!
Making Treats with the Dehydrator
The company provided me with some great dog treat recipes and when I emailed them about my fish-only fur-kid, they made up a salmon recipe just for him!
However, after buying the salmon I learned that you need a special Paraflexx® sheet that is not included with the dehydrator. Bummer. They are not expensive, around $12 on their website but since I did not have one, I couldn’t try it for this test. Seems for the cost of the dehydrator it should come with at least one of these sheets.
Instead, I bought one sweet potato and some chicken and parsley for my other dogs.
Excalibur’s Sweet Potato Recipe:
Thoroughly wash and peel sweet potatoes. Slice the sweet potato into 1/4″ slices- you can also cut down the middle lengthwise and slice into 1/4″ strips.
Dehydrate at the highest setting (145 – 155) until done. Drying approximately 6-8 hours will leave them with a chewy texture. For crunchier treats dehydrate longer until the desired consistency.
I peeled and then sliced up the sweet potato lengthwise and then cut those in half since my dogs aren’t real big. It was really hard to slice the sweet potato lengthwise and next time I will follow the company’s advice and just cut it into chips.
Excalibur’s Chicken Dog Jerky Recipe:
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into strips about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbs. salt
Dog Friendly seasonings including parsley, rosemary, and sage
full recipe and instructions on their site.
For the chicken, I found the tenders were already that thin, so I just sliced them lengthwise to make them smaller. For bigger dogs, you could probably dry the whole tender, it will just take longer. They say to put oil or salt on the chicken, but I don’t think dogs need those, so I just sprinkled some fresh parsley (good for doggy breath!) on them and called it good.
Since the chicken and sweet potatoes dry at roughly the same temperature, I put them both in at the same time. About 12 hours later I had chewy sweet potatoes and chicken jerky for my dogs. Next time, I may wrap the chicken around the sweet potato, for added chew.
Okay so it’s really easy to make treats using a dehydrator. The other great part about it is you can use ingredients your dog loves, is not allergic to and you know are safe. No worry about recalls or midnight trips to the e-vet.
But is it cheaper?
I was excited about the salmon recipe because it took canned salmon – which only cost me $3.59 for 14oz. – a bag of dried salmon treats usually runs me around $15. For salmon treats, I would say yes, the dehydrator will definitely save me money (in the long run).
An approximately 6oz bag of dried sweet potatoes is around $10. The one sweet potato I used cost me was 1.11lb and cost me 1.43. It made almost the same amount of chews. Definitely a savings.
Finally, the chicken is super cheap too. I buy the Kirkland brand at Costco. It’s $14 for 6 pounds. It’s all-natural with no hormones or preservatives and it’s from the USA. The only thing “added” is the 8% mix of water and kosher salt (another reason you don’t need to add more salt). Commercial chicken jerky can cost anywhere from $8 to $15 for a several ounces. Again, no contest.
Obviously you have to buy the dehydrator. The Excalibur 5-tray is $269.95. If you figure a bag of treats costs you $15, then after just eighteen bags of treats, you have paid for the dehydrator. If you have multiple dogs, you probably go through that in a few months to a year.
For more dog treat recipes, go to the Excalibur website.
Not quite ready to DIY? We recommend Riley’s Organic Sweet Potato Treats – they’re delicious and made with six super-safe ingredients. They’re so good, we would eat them ourselves! (AND WE HAVE!)
(Disclaimer: I was given an Excalibur Dehydrator for review. Any and all opinions are my own.)
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