Who Else Wants Longer Lasting Homemade Dog Treats?

Every week I get at least one email asking how long is the shelf life for homemade dog treats. By now, I have a standard response and thought I’d share it with you here.
Here’s a super easy way to remember:

The moister the treat, the shorter the shelf life. The drier the treat, the longer it’ll last.

Here’s a video I made -- how long do homemade dog treats last?

H2O Makes the Difference

The reason is water.

Have you ever had wet clothes mildew because they were left in a heap too long?

Or, if you’ve spent 5 minutes in a hot, humid climate like Louisiana, you know how easily things—road maps, food, buildings can start growing mold. Ewww, I know, but humidity will do that.

It's the Same with Homemade Dog Treats

apple cinnamon pupcakes

Some have a very high moisture content like apple cinnamon pupcakes which have applesauce in them.

They’re going to last a couple of days on your counter, up to three weeks in the fridge.

A drier treat like the peanut butter goodness dog treat recipe will last longer.

In fact, you may be able to get away with leaving these at room temperature for a week. They’ll last two months in the fridge.

Storage is One Key for Longer Lasting Homemade Dog Treats

For All Treats:

Make sure they’re completely cool before you store them.

This is especially true if you’re using plastic bags to store them.

Warm treats in a plastic bag=humidity which =mold.

Make sure they’re cool.

Removing the Moisture is the Ultimate Secret to Longer Lasting Homemade Dog Treats

You can do this two ways: 

1) Bake them longer at a lower temperature.

Most of my treat recipes only take 15-30 minutes to bake at 375 or 395. But if you turn the heat down to 225 and bake for 90 minutes or more you’ll get drier treats.

You’ll have to do a lot of checking to make sure they don’t burn and are really cooking—remember, this is your experiment.

Caveat: I know baking long and low is a surefire way to bake out the moisture and extend their life. If you want to try this and let me know your successes, I’m happy to share them with others. However, I haven't done it so I don't have the specifics.

That's why Milkbones last forever, there's little to no moisture content.

2) Get a dehydrator.

This is the method Dog lover and reader Linda Baar uses:

“Jen, addressing the shelf life of homemade treats: I've found that baking them @ 350 for 4min on the bottom shelf and 4 min on the top shelf then put them in my food dehydrator overnight and they last a long time!

Also I throw them bagged (about 36 small bones each) in the freezer till needed, I've had them in bags at room temp for several weeks without getting mold or anything. It even works with Yam/mozzarella, Peanut Butter/Bananna, Yam/Salmon, Apple/Yam etc.

The trick I believe is the dehydrator removes all the moisture that's where the problems seem to start, as has been my experience.

Hope this may help someone...

Have a BLESSED day!Linda Baar, Prescious & Kely”

AND, from reader Linda Zubel:

I am a semi-retired Pastry Chef and I have a secondary pet business:

"Zack n Boo's Kitchen Gourmet Pet Treats".

None of my treats contain preservatives; dehydration (removal of moisture) is the only type of "preservative" I use.

After they are baked, I find that freezing them will significantly extend their shelf life and has no detrimental effect on the finished product. And some of mine contain perishable proteins, like fresh liver, canned tuna & salmon, etc. I can feed them to my pets either frozen or thawed (mine are small, training-sized treats, not the bigger muffins, bones, biscuits, etc...) Hope that helps.

Linda Zubel, owner www.TucsonsPetSitter.com & www.ZackNBoosKitchen.com

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