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Food and Cooking

How to make organic jerky treats for dogs

These dog treats are easy to make in your kitchen.
How to make organic jerky treats for dogs

The best way to show honor and respect for a big game animal is to use every part after you’ve killed it. Here’s an easy way to make dog treats from meat scraps that would otherwise get thrown away.

by Leon Pantenburg

Inevitably, there will be scraps of meat, gristle and fat when you’re done butchering that elk, deer, bear or other big game animal. While you may not want to eat certain parts, your dog will thank you for keeping it.

Two Labs assure there is no wasted meat from a big game animal.

Our family’s two Labs assure there is no wasted meat from a big game animal.

With two Labs in my house, there is never any waste, so I just make the scraps into dog treat jerky. Obviously, you could use other types of meat if you found a good sale at the grocery store.

While cutting and trimming the meat, just save any part or trimming you don’t want.  If you don’t eat the organs, you can slice, boil and dry the heart, liver and kidneys.

Here’s what you do.

    • While you’re butchering, put all the trimmings into a large plastic bag. I generally just label what the trimmings are, and put it in the freezer until I have time later to work with it.
    • Put the raw meat scraps in a pot with water, and boil until the meat is done. Let cool, and pour off the broth. This step in unnecessary if you’re planning on drying the meat. But I like to add another byproduct from those parts of the carcass that would otherwise be thrown away. This broth will become a nutritious – and to a dog – delicious addition to regular dry dog food. It can be frozen until needed, then re-heated in a microwave.
    • Cut up the cooked meat into uniform chunks so it will dry uniformly. Think jerky strips.
    • Heat up oven to 200 degrees. Place meat strips on a pizza rack or on a flat pan. I have racks for making people jerky, so I just use those. If you’re using racks, put aluminum foil or a cake pan underneath to catch any drippings.
Label the finished dog treats so they don't get mixed up with human food.

Label the finished dog treats so they don’t get mixed up with human food.

  • Place a folded towel at the top of the oven door so it doesn’t seal, and the door is left open a crack. This is an important step, because it assures the jerky will dry, instead of being baked.
  • Dry the jerky in the oven for about an hour or two, or until the meat is hard and dark brown.
  • Label: I freeze the jerky treats, even though they probably don’t need it. Always put a label on the package that says something to the effect of “Dog Treats” or “Dog Food.” If you want to freak out somebody, just label the package “dog” and be prepared to do some explaining.

I don’t know about you, but I want to know what is in my family’s food, and that includes the four-legged members. My Labs love the treats, and I appreciate that I can more fully use the harvest.

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Food and Cooking

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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