Homemade Chicken Jerky Dog Treats

homemade chicken jerky dog treatsSome people think that making your own dog treats is labor intensive and time-consuming. But what if I told you that it’s as easy as chop and bake? Anyone can dice up some chicken and place it in the oven, right? It’s so easy! And with only 1 ingredient, no preservatives, no added-anything, and no mystery meats… your dog will thrive on these tasty treats! And dehydrated treats are the least labor-intensive creation imaginable. You barely have to lift a finger! And with claims that even jerky treats made in the USA aren’t safe, it’s so important that we can rest-assured that we are feeding our dogs non-toxic treats.

Step 1: Prepare Your Checklist of Ingredients

DSC06781Ingredients:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken

That’s it! Just 1 ingredient. You can buy whatever is on sale, but I used the chicken breasts that our family eats. These will be ready in no time, so preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Step 2: Slice The Chicken

DSC06783A lot of people slice the chicken into thin, 1/8-3/8″ jerky slices. The thinner they are, the less time they will need to cook in the oven. However, I found it was much easier to just cube the chicken into thin, square-shaped pieces. I began by cutting the chicken into long jerky strips, but it was kind of difficult, and the cubes ended up cooking better in the oven. 

DSC06788Step 3: Place & Bake

DSC06789Place the chicken pieces on baking sheets. You can use non-stick spray if you wish. 

DSC06792Place in the oven and bake for about 2 hours at 250 degrees. The amount of time will vary depending on the thickness and size of the treats you cut.

Jem’s trusty nose tells her there’s something in the oven…

DSC06867

Step 4: Eat Up!

DSC06793Make sure your jerky treats are a golden color with some crisp to them. If they’re still soft and very white, you should cook them for longer. Your treats may take more or less time than mine did depending on the size you cut them. 

Zoey smells something coming out of the oven…

DSC06800And Jem is quick to investigate…DSC06816“Are all of these for me?!” 

DSC06850Jem can’t believe her eyes!

DSC06844OH my gosh they really ARE for me…

DSC06841And soon enough Jem couldn’t get enough…

DSC06843But Zoey’s height doesn’t keep her from taking a whiff…

DSC06857And she loves what she tastes!

DSC06861These jerky treats were so easy to make and healthy for the dogs. Based on their reactions, these seemed to be their favorite dog treats that I’ve ever made! I had to put them away in the refrigerator and spray Febreeze to get Jem to stop sniffing around the kitchen for more! 

Other favorite homemade treat recipes:

 

How To Understand Pet Food Labels: Know The Red Flags

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If you’re anything like me, you may be starting to worry that there isn’t a healthy pet food that you can trust. It seems like each week there’s a new “pet food recall” notice. And with brands bragging that their food is “made with real beef or chicken,” it makes me wonder what the other food is made of?! 

DSC06727Dog food has a “3% With Rule” which states that any food that claims to be made “with chicken” only needs to consist of 3% chicken to make that claim true. For example, “Honest Jack’s Dog Food With Chicken” only needs to consist of 3% chicken in order to meet guidelines. Crazy, right?! 

Pet food labelsI’ve been working on my own research to clear up some of the controversy that’s on peoples’ minds about pet food, but it’s incredibly difficult to find concrete answers to my questions and concerns. It’s proved to be close to impossible to get a straight answer about pet food truths and lies. The confusion about which pet foods are healthy and which ones are fooling us can’t be clarified as easily as I’d hoped. It’s going to take more than one post to get some of this confusion sorted out, so stay tuned!  

Why It’s So Important To Research Your Dog’s Food

DSC06728We have the responsibility to research dog food brands ourselves and learn as much as we can beyond what the companies are telling us on the surface. Almost every aspect of our dogs’ health starts with their diet. A healthy diet can make all of the difference in the world for your dog throughout her entire life.

DSC06730So what should you look for when reading pet food labels? Should we buy labels that say “gourmet, premium, natural, or organic?” Or do companies know that these words are going to trigger us to purchase and they’re using them as marketing techniques?

The government’s rules and regulations on pet food have nothing to do with the advertising and marketing claims that these companies use. That means they can say anything they want regardless if it’s true. Has the Blue Buffalo controversy come to your mind yet? 

 The FDA’s Regulations: Do They Protect Our Pets?

The FDA “establishes standards applicable for all animal feeds: proper identification of product, net quantity, manufacturer’s name and address, and proper listing of all ingredients.” Seems pretty bare minimum to me… so what about the company’s claims to us that they are a superior brand? No regulations on that?

The FDA states on its website: “Pet owners and veterinary professionals have a right to know what they are feeding their animals. The pet food label contains a wealth of information, if one knows how to read it. Do not be swayed by the many marketing gimmicks or eye-catching claims. If there is a question about the product, contact the manufacturer or ask an appropriate regulatory agency.”

So what I get from that explanation is that we’re pretty much on our own to learn how to read labels in order to understand what we are purchasing. Now that’s a hefty task… 

AAFCO Regulations: Do They Protect Our Pets?

Not all states require the FDA to enforce their labeling regulations. Many of the states have adopted the pet food regulations established by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). These regulations are more specific and “cover aspects of labeling such as product name, the guaranteed analysis, the nutritional adequacy statement, feeding instructions, and calorie statements. 

 The AAFCO website provides a lot of contact information from state to state, but it says little about what the committee does. It does state that, “AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee has created a great tool for small pet food businesses to learn what is required when they wish to make pet foods and treats. Though this information is very beneficial in explaining what is necessary for a company to start up their business, it is just a tool. For further information regarding what is required by the state where you live, contact your State Feed Control Official.”

The words “it is just a tool” was a red flag for me. They also state that, “While AAFCO doesn’t help consumers directly, AAFCO has clearly stated in its philosophy regarding feed regulations in the Official Publication that “The most important aspect of feed regulation is to provide protection for the consumer as well as the regulated industry. A major function of feed regulations is to safeguard the health of man and animals. Another important function of feed regulation is to provide a structure for orderly commerce.” We also use expert nutrition opinions to establish nutrient standards (profiles) for dogs and cats.”

Look For The AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement On The Pet Food Bags

The AFCCO states that the nutritional adequacy statement is quite possibly the most important thing to look for on the pet food bag. It will state that the food meets AFCCO standards.

IMG_1931Nutritional adequacy statements may look like any of the following examples:

  • “___________ is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (or cat) Food Nutrient Profiles for ___________.”
  • “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that ______________ provides complete and balanced nutrition for _____________.”
  • “_____________ provides complete and balanced nutrition for ___________ and is comparable to a product which has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests”

 Nutritional adequacy statements that do not meet AFCCO standards that you should beware of will look like these:

  • ““A nutritional or dietary claim for purposes other than those listed above provided the claim is scientifically substantiated”
  • “This product is intended for intermittent or supplementary feeding only”

Don’t Trust “Gourmet” or “Premium” Food Claims

You may be surprised to know that the FDA has no regulations or guidelines to protect consumers from misleading claims like “gourmet” or “premium.”

DSC06710FDA labeling guidelines state, “products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products.”

That bothers me, what about you?!

Beware of “Human Grade” Pet Food Claims

The AAFCO states that although many food companies have claimed to provide human grade ingredients, this term has no legal definition in animal feed regulations.

“Extremely few pet food products could be considered officially human edible or human grade.” The AAFCO also states that a dog food that truly met human standards would be extremely expensive.

There are official standards that must be met in order for food to be deemed “edible” by definition for human consumption. If these qualifications are met then “human grade” claims can legally be made even though there is no official definition for the term. However, a product created for a pet is very unlikely to be nutritionally adequate for human consumption. There are foods that humans can eat, such as chocolate, that are toxic to dogs. Therefore, “human grade” does not by any means indicate that a food is nutritionally safe for dogs. 

“Natural” Pet Food: While It’s Better, It’s Still Unclear

The word “natural” is being used on tons of food labels both in the dog and human food industries. It makes us feel good when we think we’re getting an honest product, and we hope that the label is telling us the truth. Some people confuse the terms “natural” and “organic” as being interchangeable, but they are absolutely not the same.

DSC06719PetMD veterinarian Dr. Hughes tells us that the word “natural” means that the FDA deems the product to contain no chemical changes to the ingredients. Of course we don’t want our dogs to ingest chemicals day after day. This can greatly deteriorate their health. Purchasing a dog food that can provide FDA certified “natural” ingredients should be part of your dog’s daily diet. 

DSC06722The AAFCO says that the word “natural” is a descriptive term that sounds positive, but there are misperceptions about the word. The term was undefined in the past by state and federal agencies, but in an effort to appeal to consumers, marketers have used the term for their food. 

The AAFCO Definition for “Natural” Pet Food: 

DSC06716“A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal, or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”

DSC06729However, the FDA labeling guidelines states, “the term ‘natural’ is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition.” The FDA does recognize the AAFCO definition for natural. Unfortunately, it’s up to us to do the remaining research for us to be sure that the company’s claims to be natural are in fact truthful. Furthermore, not all states have adopted the AAFCO definition for “natural.” The FDA admits that ingredients can still contain trace amounts of chemically synthetic compounds and still be considered natural. 

Are you even more confused than before? Don’t feel bad, I am too! It feels like there still isn’t a concrete, defined, trustworthy answer to the natural vs unnatural debate. 

Don’t Believe “Holistic” Pet Food Claims

DSC06720There is no legal definition of the word “holistic” for pet food. Any manufacturer can claim their food is “holistic” regardless of the ingredients. To me, this word would be a red flag for ‘marketing scam!’

DSC06723

“Organic” Pet Food: Look For The Seal 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, organic ingredients must be grown with only animal or vegetable fertilizers such as manure, bone meal, compost, etc. When a product has the USDA Organic Seal, it is certified to meet these standards. If the product does not have the official USDA Organic Seal, it’s claim to be organic has not been proven true by any official agency. 

According to the AAFCO, Organic pet food is “produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.”

 

Now that was a lot to take in! The pet food controversy is one that I believe is far from over. More consumers than ever are demanding answers from manufacturers, and I hope that in only a few more years we will be able to grab a bag of dog food off the shelves without all of these worries and concerns. Stay tuned for more information on reading pet food labels and understanding what all of the chemically-named ingredients truly are. 

Do you have a rule you abide by when picking out your pet’s food? Or is there a tried and true method you believe works when choosing a reputable manufacturer? 

Yummy Homemade Banana Dog Treats

homemade banana dog treats from radiofence.comWhat’s better than homemade dog treats? When they’re only 1 ingredient! These banana dog treats are super easy to make and much cheaper than store-bought treats. You can’t go wrong! And your doggy is going to love them.

Step 1: Prepare Your Ingredients

All you need for this recipe is bananas! I chose to use 5 bananas because I have 3 hungry doggies to treat this week. 

homemade banana dog treats from radiofence.comI chose bananas that still had some green color. This made them stay in tact better when I cut them rather than soft, ripe bananas. 

Step 2: Peel and Cut The Bananas

homemade banana dog treats from radiofence.com

homemade banana dog treats from radiofence.comI sliced my bananas into bite-sized pieces since my dogs are small. When I give them treats, I like them to be bite-size rewards after a walk, trick, or good behavior. Over-treating can lead to obesity and other health problems. 

banana dog treats from radiofence.comYou can also slice the bananas long-ways into three pieces for a chewy treat for bigger dogs. This shape is also great if you want your dog to have a treat that will last longer.  Don’t worry if you can’t cut them perfectly, as you can see mine broke!

Step 3: Place & Bake

homemade banana dog treats from radiofence.comPlace the bananas on a baking sheet. You can use parchment paper, but I didn’t have any in stock! I heard that squeezing lemon on the treats will keep them from browning, but I don’t know if it made much of a difference. I’d say that this step of adding lemon isn’t necessary. 

homemade banana dog treats from RadioFence.comBake in the oven at 200 degrees for 1 hour & 30 minutes. They will come out of the oven still a little bit soft. Let them sit and cool for about 30 minutes, then remove from the baking sheet. You can cook them for longer if your dogs prefer a crispier treat. 

Step 4: Go Bananas!

Yep, that’s right. My pups went absolutely bananas over these treats! It was so much fun to watch them freaking out over the taste. 

Zoey and Laci were the first ones out of the gate…

zoey and laci homemade dehydrated banana dog treats from radiofence.comI wasn’t sure which one of them would get the first bite…

homemade banana dog treats from radiofence.comBut before they could get a taste…

radiofence.com banana dog treats INCOMING! Jem swooped in for the prize! And with one sniff of the banana…

banana dog treats from radiofence.comShe was hooked!

radiofence.com banana dog treatsZoey had to see what all the fuss was about…

radiofence.com banana dog treatsAnd she was in love!

radiofence.com banana dog treatsIt was Laci’s turn to fight for a taste…

radiofence.com homemade banana dog treatsShe wasn’t about to let Jem steal her bite…

radiofence.com homemade banana dog treatsOut of the way, Jem… this bite is mine!

laci radiofence.com homemade banana dog treatsSuccess! Laci got her bite, and she went crazy for it…

radiofence.com homemade banana dog treatsThe girls loved their treats so much that they wished their Uncle Buddy there to try them. But since they didn’t have a big dog to share the big pieces with, they would just have to split it in three…

radiofence.com pet products

Health Benefits Of Bananas For Dogs 

Bananas are beneficial to dogs when given in moderation, so a treat is the perfect solution. They’re one of the most nutritious fruits you can feed your dog. They have high levels of vitamin B, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium that your dog may not be getting from her dog food.

Large/Medium sized dogs can eat up to half of a banana a few times per week. Smaller breeds should have smaller slices. It is recommended to feed your dog bananas in moderation since they can cause constipation in humans and dogs when consumed heavily. If your dog struggles with constipation on a regular basis, it may be wise to avoid banana treats. 

Dogs that suffer with colitis, which is inflammation of the colon, benefit greatly from eating bananas because the enzymes soothe irritations in the intestines. Always consult your veterinarian to make sure any nutritional additives to your dogs diet coincide with her treatment regimen. 

 

If you love how easy dehydrated dog treats are to make, check out our other recipe:

Our Rescue Dog’s Priceless Lessons on Life

Buddy the rescue dog from RadioFence.com pet products

Every dog gives unconditional love, but a rescue dog loves in a way that says ‘I am so grateful just to be alive. And I will spend the rest of my life showing my appreciation for this gift you’ve given me.’ buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.com pet productsThe spirit of our rescue dog Buddy is one that is felt by all who meet him. It only takes a minute of knowing Buddy to feel how happy, pure-hearted, and grateful he is. I’ve never met a dog that is so gentle, loving, and makes such a huge impact on all who spend time with him. He’s such a lover!

We knew we were lucky when we found Buddy on the side of the road and welcomed him into our family, but we could have never predicted the impact he as made on our family. 

One of my favorite quotes is “LOVE is a four-legged word.” Get it? Instead of ‘four-letter’ :) And defining “love” is something that is so hard to do; you just feel it! And that’s how Buddy makes people feel – a way that is too good to put into words. He’s just the purest example of kindness.

The life that we have given Buddy after his tumultuous start in life is one that we are so happy to share with him. Knowing that such an amazing dog now gets to spend his days going on his favorite adventures with our family makes me so happy. Such an amazing dog deserves so much love! And he’ll have it for the rest of his life. 

As much as we rescued him, he has rescued our family. He really reminds us to slow down, take breaks, and to enjoy the simple things like a walk through the woods… buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comAn evening boat ride on the lake…

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.com Or sitting on the back porch with a cup of coffee in the morning…

radiofence.com pet products buddy the rescue dogBuddy has the type of soul that makes doing absolutely nothing feel like you’re having the best day. His happiness is so contagious! And just being around him is like medicine for the soul. 

Buddy’s Daily Life In South Carolina: What A Lucky Dog!

My parents spend the summer in South Carolina, as you read in last week’s post. Buddy is so lucky to spend his days hiking the 100 acre property, taking a dip in the lake and river streams, and going for car rides through the scenic back roads. 

Buddy loves being outside and going for car rides more than anything. That’s is probably why he jumped into my car the day I found him! He’ll spend all day outside exploring, and we love that we don’t have to worry about him running off because of his underground fence. 

He gets to explore the 100 acres at least once a day, and always lets us know when he’s ready by jumping up into the truck to say “let’s go!” 

Buddy The Rescue Dog From RadioFence.com Pet ProductsHe’s so cute on car rides, because he’ll put his paws on the center console and stick his head as close to the windshield as he can. I think he believes he’s riding on some kind of magical roller coaster ride! And of course his tail never stops wagging the whole way.

radiofence.com buddy the rescue dogOn our way to the property, we put his tracking collar on so he can roam through the acreage without us worrying where he is. 

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comThis product is absolutely priceless to our family. Buddy can run free and explore like he was born to do, and we can leisurely walk the property with him and never worry when he gets out of our sight. I can’t imagine keeping him on a leash and restricting him from all of his adventures!

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.com pet productsWe can easily see how many yards away Buddy is from us, what direction he’s traveling in, and the course he’s taken from start to finish. Where we are located is shown by the black triangle, and his location is the red. We can even give him a “tone” which makes a beeping noise on his collar. We use the tone to tell him we’re ready for him to come back to us, and we can see him running back immediately after giving him the tone. Buddy could be 10 miles away and we would still know exactly where he is with the collar we have. I can’t explain how amazing it is to have this peace of mind and give Buddy the freedom that he couldn’t have otherwise! 

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.com pet productsOnce buddy jumps out of the truck, he can’t wait to hit the trails!

radiofence.com buddy the rescue dogWe will either walk to get some exercise, or we’ll get in the 4-wheeler and follow Buddy to keep up with him. He loves to run and show us around!

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.com He has a favorite stream in the woods that he always takes a break and cools off in. His tracking collar is waterproof, thankfully!

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comBuddy taught Laci how to swim, too!

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comNo trip to the property would be complete without taking in a view of the lake…

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comAnyone want to join me for a swim?!

buddy from radiofence.com Buddy spotted a deer to chase! 

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comBuddy has a new adventure every day when he explores the property. He’s had multiple encounters chasing deer, turkeys, bunnies, squirrels, etc. One of the deer he met even acted like she wanted to play with him for a few minutes until he got nervous and went back to the truck. He soft-mouthed a baby bunny and gently laid her down at my mom’s feet. She picked the bunny up and told buddy “take me to the bunny nest, Buddy. Where are the bunnies?” He jogged a few feet ahead on the trail and barked at a tree to show my mom where the nest was so she could return the bunny. He never stops surprising us and showing us what a kind soul he has. 

He’s always so sleepy after his run… time to go home and take a snooze! It’s great having our car seat cover so Buddy has a comfy place to relax after a long run, and we don’t have to worry about the seats getting all wet and dirty. 

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comWe owe so many of our great memories on the property to you, Buddy! And we’re so happy to give you the life we think you’ve always been destined to have. 

buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comA picture says 1000 words, but that’s still not enough to explain what an amazing dog Buddy is. His life is so rich with adventure, hiking, running, swimming, and playing with our family. Our lives are so rich as well with love, appreciation, and the best example of how to free your soul of stress and negativity. All because of a four-legged angel that came into our lives so unexpectedly. We love you, Buddy!

 

A Personal Look Into Our Family and The Dogs Of RadioFence.com

radiofence.com family and dogs

Our family is so grateful for your loyalty each week as you read our blog and open our emails. Your comments and feedback have been so uplifting and motivating for me to keep writing each week!

I love writing tips and how-to’s from the perspective of our dogs’ lives and incorporating them into each story I tell. Getting to spend my work days with my four-legged best friends is a dream job! But I’ve been wondering with each post I write… are my readers curious about who the dogs are in the posts, what the relationships are in the family, and do our fans realize that we are a family owned and operated business? This inspired me to give you a personal behind the scenes look into the lives of our wonderful dogs and the family business dynamic that we are so thankful for. 

Maybe you’ve been thinking… where is ‘Buddy The Rescue Dog’? Why hasn’t he been in the weekly articles since he joined the family after his incredible and inspiring journey? These are all questions I’m looking forward to answering, and I hope you ask more questions that I haven’t thought to answer! 

Our RadioFence.com Family: Our Roots

radiofence.com the volwiler family The name behind the person who writes these posts each week is Kelsey – and that’s me! I joined the family business a little over a year ago, and I love learning from two of the hardest working people I know – my parents – Larry and Lori. They started RadioFence.com in their basement in Michigan 25 years ago after purchasing an underground fence for their first dog, Duchess the Dalmatian.

Duchess the Dalmatian from RadioFence.com

Duchess loved to be outside until she wore herself out, and the underground fence gave her that freedom

 The underground fence improved Duchess’ quality of life, happiness, and personality so much that my mom, Lori, felt compelled to share such an amazing product with the world. A product she believed in with all of her heart. 

Duchess the Dalmatian from RadioFence.com Duchess was the dog that welcomed me home from the hospital as a baby and played with me in the backyard through the seasons in Michigan.

Duchess the Dalmatian from RadioFence.comShe was a ball of energy, and she needed to run free without running away. Without the underground fence, we wouldn’t have all the memories of days spent in the back yard or on the porch playing.

Duchess the Dalmatian from RadioFence.comShe could run and play outside until her heart was content. And when she came inside to spend time with the family she was the relaxed, cuddly dog that all of us loved. Our family is so grateful for those memories and the many years of business that we can thank Duchess for.

Our RadioFence.com Family: The Stems

radiofence.com the volwiler family The dogs that you see most often in the blog posts are Zoey and Jem (who my fiance Joey and I have raised), and Laci who my sister Carly belongs to. We all three live in the same small town in SW Florida, so we get to spend a lot of quality time together. Laci has a ton of energy and a curious heart, so I love including her in as many posts as I can with Zoey and Jem.

Jem, Laci, and Zoey love spending time together - but they're excited for Buddy to come back!

Jem, Laci, and Zoey love spending time together – but they’re excited for Buddy to come back!

My parents are in the process of becoming “snow birds” in the non-traditional sense of the word because they are not retired. We are blessed that our online business allows us to work from anywhere that there is internet access, so they beat the heat in Florida and spend their summers in South Carolina.

And I bet you already guessed it… Buddy has been spending his summer in South Carolina too! And he is having an absolutely outstanding time exploring the trails through the mountains and hills with my parents. They’re worried he won’t want to come back to Florida!buddy the rescue dog from radiofence.comJoey and I get to fly up to South Carolina for a visit today, and I can’t wait to see Buddy! I’m planning to take lots of pictures on our trip and have all of the updates for you on how Buddy’s amazing rescue has brought him the most incredible life. 

The opportunity to work alongside my parents at our family business has been the greatest blessing I could have hoped for. Learning from the two people that I look up to the most and aspire to take after is something I am very grateful for. I’m  proud that we are a family business from our roots to our branches, and I can’t imagine working in any other environment or spending my days without my amazing pups! 

Do you have any questions about our family, our business, or our dogs? I’d love to answer! Like a big puppy that grows to reach the kitchen counter for the first time, nothing is off-limits.