Last November, we were blessed with an adorable little bundle of fun – Franklin Jr,. our English Bulldog puppy! He’s definitely been a joyful addition to our family, so of course we want to feed him right so we can enjoy many years to come with this cute little bag of wrinkles!
As a new puppy owner (in fact, this is my first dog ever!), I was shocked at how expensive quality puppy treats are (if you can actually find real food based dog treats). So in an effort to save our budget, and still have a tempting treat to reward our good boy, I decided to bake-up some easy and healthy real food doggie treats.
Because our little guy is eating a grain-free diet, I wasn’t up for lengthy experiments to create a homemade GF dog biscuit (at least not yet). That’s why I opted instead to start by making one of his favorite simple treats – chewy dried sweet potatoes.
How to Make Sweet Potato Puppy Treats
Step One: Slice
Rinse and dry the sweet potatoes. Then, slice them into 1/3-inch slices. I prefer to slice them lengthwise, so our puppy can hold down one end of the dried sweet potato with his big beefy paw, while gnawing on the other end – it’s just so cute to watch!
Step Two: Bake
There are two options for drying fruits and veggies. The best method to use is a food dehydrator. Dehydrators use very low temperatures over a long period of time to remove moisture from foods. This “low and slow” method helps retain more nutrients and enzymes for best nutritional value.
However, if you’re like me and the food dehydrator is still on your “wish list.” Then you can certainly use your oven to slow dry them. Simply, place the sweet potato slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 175 degrees about 6-10 hours. Be sure to check for doneness about every 1-2 hours after you hit the 4-hour mark. If you have a convention oven, definitely use convection-bake, as it will save significant time since convention more evenly distributes heat.
The sweet potato treats are done when they have shriveled to almost half their original size and are somewhat dry-rubbery. If you’re not sure, take one out, let it cool. If it’s dry-rubbery in texture, then it’s done. I prefer to serve my puppy a chewy-style treat, over a crisp one. So I don’t recommend baking them until they are too dry, otherwise the sweet potatoes become too crisp and crunchy.
Step Three: Enjoy!
“Sit” … “Good boy!” Reward with treat. Repeat! (keeping moderation in mind!)
Be sure to store your homemade puppy treats in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks, or in freezer for up to one month. (There’s no preservatives in these wholesome little gems!)
While dried sweet potatoes and other dried fruits and veggies have numerous health benefits, the process of drying them (especially depending on the temperature used) can reduce their nutrient value. However, compared with the majority of dog treats on the market, homemade dried fruits and veggies make a great all-natural puppy treat – just remember moderation is key!