Jerky treats from China are sickening some pets, even killing others. Two years ago, I pleaded with pet owners not to take chances, and simply stop buying jerky treats from China. It seems the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine is now, finally, edging toward making that exact suggestion. Countless alternative products are available, not to mention mini-carrots, blueberries or apple slices from our own refrigerator. Another option is to make your own jerky treats at home. Here's a guest post by Steve Bergman (a former producer of mine), who offers a recipe for do-it-yourself jerky.
by Steve Bergman
The best way to protect your pet is to stay informed as to where the jerky products you buy are coming from and what ingredients are being used to produce them. Or simply do it yourself. I am not a huge fan of making your own pet foods, because you could easily wind up depriving your pet of nutrients he or she needs to stay healthy. Making your own pet treats, like biscuits and jerky, however, is actually very easy and fun to do. The best part is that you control what your best friends are eating and you don't have to worry about whether the treats completely satisfy your pet's nutritional needs – they'll get that from their food.
There are several routes you can take in the making of home-made pet treats. The easiest way is to buy an all in one solution, like the Pet Treat Maker from Open Country. What they've done is taken a five tray dehydrator and included a handheld extruder, several pet-specific seasoning packets, and a small recipe book, and put it all together into a kit that allows you to simply add ground beef, chicken, or other meat of your choice, and create home-made treats that your pet will love!
Another idea is to use the dehydrator to make fruit and veggie snacks that you can eat yourself and share with your pets. Why should they be the only ones to enjoy home-made treats? The kit is easy to set up, easy to clean, and essentially foolproof. Once you've made a few batches and you're ready to get creative, you'll already have the dehydrator available to strike out on your own with original recipes for both you and your pet!
If, on the other hand, you choose the “do it yourself” route, you can use your own dehydrator (or a conventional oven) to get the job done. The best way to create your own pet snacks is to avoid reinventing the wheel. Many people have posted proven recipes with directions for making home-made pet snacks. The internet and Youtube are your friends here. Search out recipes that appeal to you (and that others have rated positively, and do not contain too much, if any, sugar; cats can't even taste if sugar is there). Remember, while taste matters to us, smell matters most to our pets.
As with all home-made foods, you'll need to pay special attention to properly storing them and using them before they go bad. Without all the additives that are in most store-bought products, those treats will need to be consumed more quickly than store-bought products. The extra work involved will be rewarded by the satisfaction in knowing that you've given your pet safe, tasty treats. Being in full control of what your pet snacks on is empowering, because it helps to eliminate the worry that you might unintentionally be making your four-legged pals sick!
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