There's no shortage of dog treats out there that you can pick up for your pup. Most pet stores have aisles and aisles of treats made out of everything from real beef to pig ears! While those treats are fine every once in a while, they're not exactly the healthiest thing to give your dog.
You see, treats are typically packed with fat. Fatty foods give your dog a boost of energy. Plus, they're filled with flavor. However, providing your dog with too much could lead to some health problems in the future.
That's why so many dog owners are making the switch to homemade treats.
One of the easiest treats you can make is sweet potato dog chews!
Sweet potatoes are a great food for dogs. Often used in high-quality kibbles, this vegetable is a complex carbohydrate. It's absorbed into your dog's body slowly, avoiding that jittery energy spike.
Sweet potatoes are a wholesome alternative to fatty junk foods. What's not to like?
The Argument for Homemade Treats
You might be thinking to yourself, "Why make homemade treats when I could just pick up at the grocery store." Well, have you ever thought about what's in those fatty dog treats?
The problem with the dog treat industry is it's not heavily regulated like kibble products are. There's no standard for manufacturers to follow when it comes to nutritional value or ingredient quality.
As a result, quality varies across the board!
Not only are you dealing with fatty foods, but you're dealing with fatty foods made out of questionable ingredients. Many treats are made of butcher trimming or animal meats that aren't good enough for human consumption.
While dogs are fully equipped to handle more challenging foods that we humans are, there's still a risk for disease.
Ingredients can be cross-contaminated, filled with hormones, pumped with antibiotics, and who knows what else.
By making your dog's treats at home, there's no question about what's going into them. You know the ingredients, the manufacturing process, and the overall quality.
Instead of pumping your dog up with junk treat foods, why not provide a healthy alternative they'll enjoy just as much?
Making DIY Sweet Potato Dog Chews
This dog chew recipe is very simple. It has limited ingredients and doesn't require any special equipment. You can use a dehydrator to prepare these treats if you want. But, it's not necessary. A standard oven will do just fine.
Here's what you'll need:
You read that right. The only thing that this recipe calls for is sweet potatoes. There are no fillers, seasonings, or preservatives!
How you will prepare your sweet potatoes is going to depend on your dog's needs. If you have a small or medium-sized dog, cutting the potato into coin-sized morsels is best.
That way, the finished product will be small enough to chew comfortably.
On the other hand, larger dogs may prefer chunkier pieces. If that's the case for your pooch, just cut the potato lengthwise to get bigger pieces.
Cut the sweet potato into slices that are between 1/8 of an inch and 1/4 of an inch thick. Thicker pieces will take a bit longer to cook. But, they can be more enjoyable for pups that like to chew.
There's no need to skin the potatoes. The skin is a great source of fiber for your dog.
Now, preheat the oven to its lowest setting. In most cases, this is about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If yours gets lower, you can cook the potatoes at a lower temperature. However, it will take longer.
The goal of the cooking process isn't to necessarily "cook" the sweet potatoes. What we're aiming for is slow dehydration.
The cooking process will remove most of the moisture in the slices, making the treat chewy and shelf-stable.
Place the sweet potato slices on a baking sheet and cook them for about two hours. Chances are, they won't be done just yet. That's alright! Take this opportunity to flip the pieces over for even dehydration. Then, let them cook for another hour.
Continually check on the sweet potatoes every half hour at this point. You'll know they are done when the pieces are pale. Feel the pieces.
* Without moisture, they should have a dry and stretchy texture. If the center is still bright orange and moist, you still have some cooking time left to go.
Storing Your Sweet Potato Dog Chews
After they are fully dehydrated, take your chews out of the oven and let them cool completely. This shouldn't take long because of the low cooking temperature.
At this point, they're ready for serving! Give one to your pooch and see how they like it!
For the leftover pieces, pop them in an airtight container. You don't need to keep them in the refrigerator. The lack of moisture will keep the treats fresh for two or three weeks.
Make sure to feed them to your dog before then to avoid spoilage.
Sweet Potato dog chews are a delicious snack that your pup will love. While they don't have any meat or added flavor, the natural taste of the potato is enough to get any dog excited.
These are healthy treats that you can use for rewards and training. Because you made them yourself, there's no need to worry about the effects of providing too much.