Make Your Own Dehydrated Chicken Dog Treats


Dehydrated Chicken Treats - Dehydated Tenderloin After 10 hoursThis is a recipe I’ve tweaked and nearly perfected (always room for improvement) on how to make your own dehydrated chicken breast dog treats. Don’t buy the crap from China, filled with who knows what (China has notoriously low food safety standards) and don’t pay top dollar for the holistic, organic, over-priced-because-it’s-green treats from the store. Buy some good quality, antibiotic free chicken breast from the store and use this recipe with your food dehydrator.

Why don’t you own a dehydrator yet? I know, it may sound like an absurd question. It did to me up until a year ago. I remember seeing the Ron Popeil infomercials on TV for the Ron Co Food Dehydrator. Hell, my parents even bought one. But last year, I realized it was a good way to store up food (I’ll do a later post on food storage). It’s also a great way to make jerky, trail mixes, fruit roll-ups, and for drying up unused herbs. If you have no idea where to start when buying a food dehydrator, I would consider a budget-conscious Nesco or a super-duper Excalibur (if you’ve got the dough – i don’t even own one yet). I personally use a Nesco 700-watt and it hasn’t let me down so far.

ย Ingredients:

Just one thing: Skinless, boneless, antibiotic-free, additive free chicken breasts/chicken breast tenderloins.

Yes, they areย  little more expensive, but by dehydrating, you’re leaving behind a lot of the phosphates, preservatives, and any other nasty stuff they pump into meat nowadays. The water leaving the meat is not necessarily taking these compounds with it, but more likely concentrating them. I don’t care if YOU eat this crap, but don’t feed it to your dog. At least you’ve got a choice! ๐Ÿ™‚ Springer Mountain Farms is a decent and not too expensive brand that you can find at most grocery stores, it’s got a blue label with mountains on it.

Chicken breasts require a little longer to prep but you can get more strips out of them than you can a chicken tenderloin. However, chicken tenderloins tend to sell cheaper and can be cut to 1/4” thickness by just cutting once down the length of them. Remove any and all fat from the chicken, including the little hangy bits on the edges, and any fascia/silver skin covering on the meat. Fat goes rancid very quick in the dehydrator and can prematurely spoil your treats. Take your time and remove as much as you can. If you have trouble getting the silver skin off, scrape gently with your knife and use a finger to pull it off.

Also, note: Going with the grain creates chewy, fibrous strips. Going against the grain createsย  more tender, leathery strips. If your dog likes to take it’s time chewing it’s food or on treats, go with the grain. If you’re dog is the type that chews quick or not at all, go against the grain. (If your dog swallows almost anything whole – I would NOT recommend jerky-like treats. Undigested jerky treats can cause choking and stomach upset as they take longer to digest)

Update: I got around to trying boneless chicken thighs for these treats. What a pain in the butt! What tempted me to try them is because they are generally half the price per pound of breasts and tenderloins. However, there is so much fat that needs to be cut away (including hidden pockets inside the meat) that it doubles the processing time for a batch. Also, afterwards, the pieces have these unappealing dark patches in the meat. So, I’d recommend just sticking with the breast and tenderloin meat and keeping an eye out for weekly specials.

Finally, when shopping the rule of thumb is dehydrating cuts weight by half, so 2 lbs of raw meat will yield 1lb jerky meat. Make as much or as little as you want.



  1. First, wash hands with antimicrobial soap. (Cuts down contamination of breast caused by stuff on YOUR hands)
  2. Thoroughly wash chicken breasts/tenderloins under cold water. Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Cut chicken breasts/tenderloins into evenย  1/4” strips, going with or against the grain.Dehydrated Chicken Treats - Raw Tenderloin Sliced
  4. Lay strips spread out evenly across each rack of dehydrator. Ensure they are not touching and are roughly equidistant from each other. Remove any empty racks (consult owner’s manual that you are at least using the minimum required amount of racks)
  5. Wash hands after handling chicken and before touching anything else! Again, practice kitchen hygiene and avoid cross contamination of other utensils and surfaces whenever possible. Stack or reassemble your dehydrator only after you’ve washed your hands!
  6. Set dehydrator to poultry or meat setting (usually 165F). (165F is the minimum recommended cooking temperature for poultry set by the USDA)Dehydrated Chicken Treats - Nesco
  7. Dehydrate overnight or 8-12 hours, depending on ambient temperature and humidity.. Best to operate dehydrator in a dry area, with good ventilation. (musty, damp basements are out)Dehydrated Chicken Treats - Dehydrated Unsliced Tenderloin
  8. Check at 8 hours for done-ness. Strips should feel leathery, but not brittle and not moist. Any liquid weeping should be blotted and strips allowed to continue cooking. Wash your hands! If you want brittle style “chicken chips” running them from 10-12 hours will achieve this. Some people like these as they can be broken by hand.Dehydrated Chicken Treats - Dehydrated Unsliced Tenderloin After 10 HoursDehydrated Chicken Treats - Dehydrated Sliced Tenderloin Thickness After 10 hours
  9. Once complete, allow to cool before placing in a sealing canning/storage jar or zip-lock bag. Not allowing them to cool will create condensation and cool the outside while leaving a warm center, both of which promote bacterial growth. Sanitize the jar between every few batches by boiling in a pot of water, running through your dishwasher’s sanitize run, or with a dilute bleach or vinegar solution (rinse thoroughly!). Sealing jars are the easiest as they allow you to keep the treats on your counter for convenience. Here is what I use: Bormioli Fido Clear Square Canning Jar.
  10. Feed to dog. Prepare for begging.

Hey there! Yeah, you! If you liked these chicken treats, check out this article on making your own dehydrated ground turkey treats!


More photos:

Read more on the FDA warnings here: FDA Continues to Caution Dog Owners About Chicken Jerky Products
And on Nov 20th, 2011, again, theย  FDA Issues Warning on Chicken Jerky for Dogs

DISCLAIMER: This article, originally published in June 2011, came well before the FDA issued warnings on chicken treats made in China. If you’re looking for a “safer” alternative to these, one which YOU make and take responsibility for, read on. At the current time, the FDA does not know the cause for dog illness related to these Chinese made dog treats, but assume it is an additive or result in a process/manufacturing chemical used. I don’t guarantee this is a perfectly safe alternative, but I’ve been feeding it to my dog, and as long as it’s good quality chicken, I personally feel better using it. After all, it’s the same chicken I eat myself, I’m just sucking the moisture out of it. As always, if your dog appears to have an adverse reaction, stop feeding and immediately contact your veterinarian.

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  • FDA just released a new chicken from china dog treat warning. Irradiated chicken has killed pets. Symbol on each package indicates irradiation of product. My 6.4 lb yorkie got sick. We discovered all of her favorite treats displayed that symbol. Damn china !! Damn US for allowing China to process OUR foods.

  • Debbie –
    Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry to hear about your pet, I hope he/she is better. Have you found any FDA warnings linking the food to irradiation? I don’t want you to get alarmed at an irradiation symbol on the food, as many of your vegetables, fruits, and meats may be irradiated as well. The irradiation itself is not dangerous, unless it is reacting with a chemical additive or preservative used in making these chicken treats in China. Which is definitely a possibility!! I work with irradiation (gamma ray) regularly with my job in biotech and it’s used to safely sterilize millions of medical components, when it behaves with the materials in the product!

    Remember, Chinese manufacturers are not necessarily held to the same regulations and standards that US based manufacturers are. If you’ve ever seen the track record of Chinese made foods and consumables, you’ll see a streak of strange additives found. Including melamime in pet food in the past few years.

    Food Safety News has a great article on the current findings and speculation as to the cause of the development of Falconi-like symptoms in pets, which is still yet to be determined by FDA labs.

  • What is the best way to store dehydrated chicken? Also, how long will it last? I found you post very helpful. I bought a dehydrator and already made a batch of organic chicken and turkey jerky. I do not want to feed my dogs chicken from China. Thanks for your help.

    • Maura – Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you found this helpful and are on your way to making to making a very happy dog! The best and easiest method I’ve found is to place them in a storage jar with a gasket. They are the kind that have a rubber gasket seal and latch. I’ll include a link at the bottom of the main post that has an example of what I’m talking about. You may be able to find them locally, but shop around, some are marked up as they’ve become kitchen decorations rather than actually used items. Just make sure its wide enough to reach your hand into and at least 6 inches tall to accommodate different sized strips. They should keep them good long enough before you’re ready for another batch!

      Air is your enemy, as the treats tend to grow more brittle as time goes on or they sometimes get softer if you’ve got high humidity in your air. Sanitize the jar after every couple batches by placing it in a pot of boiling water, using a dilute bleach solution (rinse thoroughly), vinegar, or running it through the sanitize setting on your dishwasher. Microbial buildup isn’t a huge cause for concern, but it’s better just to be safe and prevent ruining your treats from an excessive buildup over time. If you want to store them long term, I bet you could just store them in a freezer bag or a pickle jar in the fridge. I usually end up going through them too quickly though to ever build up a stock pile though!

      • I was keeping the jerky in the fridge in ziploc bags. I’ll get the jar. Have you tried oxygen absorber packets? I know they come in some store jerky packs and thought they might help in the jar. Thanks!

        • I have not tried using O2 absorber packets. I do have some, but they are more intended for long term food storage. They have a limited ability to absorb oxygen, so every time you opened the jar, you’d “wear out” the pack really quick. It would start absorbing O2 from the atmosphere, and would eventually top out in its ability to take in anymore. Store bought jerky packets also sometimes contain a dessicant packet, which would suck up excess moisture inside the bag. This would be useful but possibly an added hassle of ordering them and then storing them as well. Plus, they are usually made of silicates, which could be toxic if accidentally ingested, but there must be a food grade version out there too.

          This makes me think of an “old grandma” trick for keeping salt in the salt shaker from hardening… Putting some rice in the bottom of the shaker. The rice would absorb any extra moisture in the shaker, leaving the salt good and in fine grains. That might help out here! I’ll give it a shot with my next batch.

      • Hey Chris,
        To make them softer, I would take them out of the dehydrator sooner, so they are still pliable/chewy. However, by dehydrating it, they will never be “soft” in the way of “mushy”. It is a jerky, so they are going to require chewing. For something softer, I would recommend checking out my article on making dehydrated ground turkey treats on this blog. Hope this helps!

    • I have been making my own chicken “crack” (we call it) for my corgi for years now, and just got a new dehydrator for Christmas. I keep mine in the frig in a zip lock bag, keep for a at least a month with no problem. i usually make 4-5 chicken breasts at a time, freeze them first, and as they defrost a little easier to slice thinner with a filet knife. good luck, well worth the time, having safe treats for your 4 legged family buddy.

  • I noticed that you added garlic to the seasoning of your treats. Garlic is very dangerous for a dog. There was recent warnings about it on the front page of Just wanted to pass it along. Thanks for the tips for dehydrating chicken. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Jill – thanks for the comment! You bring up a very interesting and confusing topic. Although I’m not a vet, I wouldn’t be too worried about garlic. It’s commonly lumped into the same category as onions, which are highly toxic to dogs due to the thiosulphate concentrations. This causes Heinz body anemia, which essentially causes blood cells to lyse, or rupture, open. Garlic, on the other hand, doesn’t contain these high amounts of thiosulphate. That being said, I wouldn’t be too scared of it. It’s used by many holistic vets, and, evolutionarily speaking, has been consumed by humans (and probably their pets) for 1,000’s of years. But take my advice with a grain of salt- I’m no expert! In the end, everything in moderation, including chicken treats! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I just made these jerky treats last night for the first time, and am now waiting on the 2nd batch to come out. I seasoned the first batch. Both my kids LOVE them. No seasoning on this batch. will be done in about an hour.
    Just wanting to hit on the garlic and dogs. My vet, 3 different ones in 3 different states have said to help prevent fleas to sprinkle some garlic POWDER over the dogs food. I’ve been doing it for 20 or years now. Seems the garlic repels fleas. You just don’t want to overdo it. the kids like it. NO onion tho. And not garlic salt.. Just the powder. I haven’t had a flea problem in forever and I live in the country with fields and woods around me.
    By the way, this is the easiest chicken treat recipe I’ve ever come across. Thank you so much for the simple instructions! Got a new dehydrator just to make them.. Plus I am done forever buyng the chinese crap. Think I lucked out by not having any of my kids get sick from them. They’ve eaten them for years now. But now they are getting older and I got paranoid. better safe than sorry.

    • Hey Rosie – Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you found the article useful!! Making them seems like a daunting task at first, but it’s so super easy once you get going. And thank you for commenting on your experience with garlic and garlic powder. I wish garlic worked on ticks too! I’m not looking forward to this year; since the Northeast had such a mild winter, the ticks are already out in full force. I’ve already pulled two off of my little bud this weekend alone. Let me know how your “kids’ like the unseasoned batch, and give the turkey treat recipe linked above a try too if you’re feeling bold! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks again!

      • Hi Sahil, I am in northeast Ohio. My sister has already found 3 ticks on one of her babies. so far so good here.. I’ll be treating the lawn soon as I get to the Equity to buy the stuff I need. Treated lawn twice last year and NO ticks at all! hoping for the same this year. I’ve made 4 batches of the chicken jerky thus far. can’t believe how easy it is now. the first batch I was scared to slice the chicken, but ended up doing a pretty good job. I’ve got a really nice knife that’s sharp as all get out. that’s half the battle. LOL I do the ground turkey in their food. But I just may try the turkey jerky anyway. My kids don’t get any dog food at all anymore. Heck, I cook for them more than I do for myself.. LOL I only seasoned the first batch of jerky. and the girls love it unseasoned too! I keep a glass container with the rubber ring on the kitchen counter and put in about a weeks worth of the jerky. have a bigger sealed plastic container in the freezer and a zip lock bag in the fridge. Course you could just leave them in the freezer as the kids will eat them anyway.. LOL I’ve already talked 2 friends into doing this too!!! One had to go out and get a dehyrator.. I got a Nesco.. 700 I think it was with the heating unit on top. runs so quiet. 59.00 with free shipping even. well worth the money for the peace of mind I now have.
        So glad I found this site with the step by step instructions AND pictures!!!

  • Here in Montreal, QC Canada, VitaLife is the most popular chicken jerky treat and they are made in Thailand. Yes they aren’t made in China but that didn’t make me feel better, it’s still not US or Canada and my dogs LOVES them so she eats quite a few a week and I am NOT taking any chances. Thank you for this recipe, I just received my nesco dehydrator today and will make my batch overnight tonight. Do you have a recipe for beef jerky for dogs? I would probably use unseasoned beef but do you know which cut is best? and how would you cook it? Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Chantal – glad to hear you got your own dehydrator and thanks for commenting. If I were to make beef jerky, I would recommend you use the leanest cut possible to start. This would be flank steak, skirt steak, or top round. These also appear to generally be pretty cheap cuts too! Make sure to go with a decent quality provider, beef is frequently pumped full of liquids, chemicals, and colorings that only wind up getting concentrated in the resulting jerky. I’m not sure what’s available in your area, so a little homework on brands and practices will go a long way.

      Use the same prep as the chicken jerky, cut into about 1/4″ strips and dehydrate 8-12 hrs, checking it for texture after 8.

      I don’t think you’ll ever have to worry about seasoning this for your dog either!

      Good luck!

  • I just wanted to chime in on the “garlic issue”. I’ve done a lot of reading and asked a couple of veterinarians about this and the information I get is that raw garlic (or onions) is not good for dogs, however, garlic powder is ok since the toxic chemical is virtually eliminated in the processing of garlic powder. I make our dog food so that I can control what goes into it and was scared at first to use garlic powder, but use it now without any ill effects on our little chihuahua. She absolutely loves the chicken strips – they are the ONLY treat she will eat, so I will be buying a dehrydrator and making these for her as well.

    • Cat,
      Thanks for stopping by and weighing on this topic. Its good to hear that other people have used garlic powder without ill effect. Happy dehydrating!

  • I just tried making these (first baked them in my oven -170 deg โ€“ until cooked, then in my dehydrator) and a lot of the pieces came out looking like there was white paint painted on parts of the chicken. Is this normal? It doesnโ€™t look right. Has this ever happened to you?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Julie โ€“ White paint, you say? Iโ€™ve never had that happen to me but im very curious. I do get white fibery bits on the chicken that are from leftover bits of fat and fascia (muscular sheathing). Are you making sure to remove as much of that as possible prior to cooking/dehydrating? If not, really try scraping this off on your next batch and see if you still get it.

      The only other thing similar are little crystal/salt looking particles that form on the dehydrated chicken when using poor quality chicken. I believe these particles are dried preservatives or enhancers used by the meat industries to make the chicken more appealing (phosphates and nitrates pumped into it to make it look better longer and look plumper).

      Hope this helps! Thanks for sharing!

  • Wonderful site! I am so glad to hear more people are making their own dog treats & not buying the “made in China” stuff! If more & more people stop purchasing these, the pet companies may get the message that we won’t risk poisoning our furry children! Also, a lot of these treats (even the expensive “holistic” brands!) add sugar as an ingredient ๐Ÿ™ Since moving to Fl my Westie has been having ongoing skin issues due to yeast-so making my own eliminates the added sugar problem!
    I bought the Nesco 700 dehydrator a few months ago, & have been making the jerky treats, but would like to expand to add some fruit & veggies. When I used to get the store bought treats, my dogs always loved the ones where chicken was wrapped around apple, banana, or carrots, but I am having trouble getting the chicken to stay adhered to the fruit/veggie, does anyone have any suggestions or recipes for this combination?

    • Heather – Thanks for the comments. I’m glad to hear your making your own treats and it’s helping your dog’s skin issues! As for wrapping your dog treats in fruits or veggies, although I’ve never tried, it does spark my curiosity. The first thing that comes to mind is making a fruit roll-up style snack and chicken strips separately, then wrapping the roll-up around small bits of chicken. Fruit roll-ups are an easy thing to make, there are many recipes online. If I have time, I’ll experiment with this the next time I make some treats and let you know the results!!

      Anyone else have ideas? Let em fly!

  • Just sliced up my chicken and put it in the dehydrater. I saw that they suggest heating the chicken ones its done in the oven at 170 for 30 min?

    • Jp – As mentioned above, you could pre-cook the chicken treats in the oven at 165F to lightly pasteurize the chicken, but I personally do not. My dog has been fine eating just dehydrated treats (as long as they were dehydrated at 165F). I would think heating it in the oven for 30 minutes afterwards would make them very brittle and overdone, but you can give it a shot!

      Thanks for commenting

  • I’m so excited to try your recipe for the dehydrated chicken strips. I am rushing out tomorrow to buy the dehydrator. I wont ever buy treats made in China and have been ordering them for $25.00 a lb. what a fool I am…
    Can’t wait to make my own!!!

  • Thank you so much for posting these instructions. We already make jerky for humans in our dehydrator out of venison and beef, but that jerky is lathered with sauce made with salt, a natural preservative. I was glad to run across your instructions for my two old girls, because I didn’t want to add salt into their diets the way human jerky does. I have thought about this before for them, but wasn’t sure if I would need a preservative for the dehydrated chicken to prevent spoilage or bacteria. Well anyways, I just wanted to let you know the easiest way to cut any meat for the dehydrator is a meat slicer! We have been using a meat slicer for years to cut the meat for jerky and I have to tell you it saves a lot of time! The trick to it is to partially freeze the meat, which stiffens the meat for easier slicing by the meat slicer or pull it out of the freezer and only let it partially thaw. Do not totally freeze the meat solid or use frozen meat just out of the freezer, as it will be too much for the motor on the meat slicer to handle and you will kill your meat slicer! You can search the web or go on Ebay and buy one pretty reasonable for around $25 – $50. You don’t need a huge professional one. A small one will do just fine! We also use the meat slicer to cut thin slices or shavings of beef to cook for steak sandwiches and other cooked meats for sandwiches like the local deli does. I hope this helps, as this is how I sliced the chicken for the dehydrator so my two old girls could have jerky too! Thanks again!

  • Thanks for the tips Billie, I’m glad you found this article useful. I never thought of using a slicer, since I always considered them to be well out of my price range. But if they can be had for $25-50, I might have to check one out. Slicing the chicken into strips with a knife is a real pain!

  • I was at a complete loss on how I was going about to make these treats for my Golden and my Maltese…These two are my kids basically since kids werent an option for me…When I was buying the China made treats my Golden could chew the thicker ones and I had to break the Maltese treats into small pieces…so I would go through the bag looking for thin ones…With that in mind I bought a slicer…and sliced up a good amount and put thm in a ziplock in the fridge for an hour or so…I then searched the web and found you …I guess my question is …can you sliced them too thin?…I know i didnt due a 1/4 inch…I am getting ready to put them into the dehydrator in a few…wish me luck and Thank you and everyone who has responded with tips and ideas as well as there feedback…Very Awesome !!!

    • Hey Bill – Glad you found this article useful, as well as the wealth of info shared by others here in the comments. To answer your question of whether they can be sliced too thin.. the answer is yes and no. The only things that effect the outcome of these treats are dehydration duration (in hours) and thickness. The thinner you slice them, the faster they will dehydrate. The thicker they are, the slower they will dehydrate.

      I’ve merely found that 1/4″ is a happy median between how easy it is to cut by hand and ease of cooking them. The window of time to really change the end result is rather large… meaning, if you forget to check on it after 8 hours, they won’t be totally ruined if you come back in 10-12 (they will be more brittle though!). I also like that I can set them up to cook before bed and find them done in the morning before I leave for work.

      Although I haven’t tried slicing them as thin as you would with a meat slicer (I’m guessing as thin as deli meat), I would venture a guess that they would be very brittle if you went 8 hours in the dehydrator. I would watch them very closely and play it by ear, maybe check them after 4 hours and every hour after that. Just try bending them and watch for moisture weeping from them. Remember that they will harden up a little more after they cool off. Good luck and let us know how they turned out!

  • Thanks for the recipe and instructions!!! I am trying these today. The first thing I have ever made in my dehydrator! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Great article, I just purchased some from a small company in boulder and my dog loves them. I decided I could make these, and this helps!

    Question, I do not have a dehydrator, so I am wondering if you have made them in an oven. If so, I would love some help.


    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting Dave! Although I have not tried doing these in the oven, i have read of others doing it. You migh b abl to find other articles with first hand insight. My suggestion would be to run your oven low around 200-250F and maybe use a rack to get some air flow under the strips.

      You just dont want them to cook, but dry out. Play with oven temps and keep watching them. Im sure theres a sweet spot between temp, cook time, and dryness. However at some point, there may be a cost benefit of getting a dehydrator rather than running your oven for hours at a time.

      Let us know if you find a technique that works, there are plenty of other readers in the same boat!

  • Thank you very much for posting this; best instructions I’ve found so far.

    I do want to say, in regards to food safety, that while it is true that our dogs can handle the pathogens found in raw meats, they are also capable of shedding them, thereby passing them on to us. Just one example of a study on the topic, found at the link below.

    Cooking the meat to temp. prior to dehydration is a good idea for our own safety, if not for our dogs. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’m dehydrating a sample batch now after putting baking it in the oven. It’s been only 3 hours…any reason why it’s curling up? Did I slice it too thin – maybe about 1/8″?

  • I sliced my chicken to an 1/8″ thick against the grain. Then baked it in a 175 degree convection oven for about 2 hours (though I think it may have been cooked too long). It’s been dehydrating now for about 4 hours. Why is it curling up? Did I slice it too thin? Or did I overcook it? I’m going to try this again – but this time I’m going to steam it.

    • I would try turning down the heat and cutting thicker than 1/8″. Is it a counter top convection oven? It might be that the heat source is too close to the chicken and it is cooking faster than it’s drying.

  • can you dehydrate precooked (baked) chicken thighs. I’ve put them through the food processor and formed them into meat balls. Would they dehydrate properly when put in preformed into meatballs? First time user.

    • Hi Cristabolina. I’m not sure how well they would dehydrate when formed into meat balls, they may fall apart into crumbles. Also, they may take longer to dehydrate depending on the size of the meat ball. You might want to try rolling the processed chicken into a flat sheet and cutting them into strips (I do that with raw turkey meat). They dehydrate very evenly. Good luck!

  • I just read this article below, thought it might be helpful. Love my dehydrator, I’m new at trying homemade treat for my dog.

    “Home food dehydrators typically come with a user’s manual, which includes instructions on drying different types of food, such as fruits, vegetables and meat for jerky. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, when giving instructions on preparing jerky, most manuals leave out an essential step. To kill the harmful pathogenic bacteria found on most chicken, the chicken must reach 165 degrees F. The maximum temperatures of home food dehydrators typically aren’t enough to kill the pathogenic bacteria on poultry. This doesn’t mean you can’t make chicken jerky in your home food dehydrator, but you must first bring the temperate of the chicken to 165 degrees F before drying. This is a step you can do by steam or roasting in the oven before processing in the food dehydrator”

    • Very good point! You definitely want to use a dehydrator that goes to 165F (the temperature of pasteurization, which is what they do to dairy). Otherwise, like you said, pre-cook the meat in the oven. You can try lightly baking at 170F, as steaming or boiling just introduces extra moisture which must come out during dehydration (leading to longer dehydration time).

      This temperature should kill off Salmonella, the primary pathogen in poultry. Also, the stomach of the dog once ate raw meat, and their enzymes should, IN THEORY, be handle a low bacterial load from dehydrated chicken. As always, keep a close eye on your dog if it gives them digestive issues and try to avoid any unnecessary or cross contamination when preparing the chicekn.

  • I just bought a dehydrator and will be following the recipe for treats. I have an 11 year old German Shepherd that loves them. I would much rather make them myself. I don’t trust any of the treats sold in stores. It all comes from china. Thanks for the info.

  • I almost lost my mini daxi 10 months ago due to Chinese duck and chicken treats! I bought my dehydrator the day after the vet told me the cause of his illness! I love any and all recipes I can get for my little man! Bottom line is… I won’t feed him anything I wouldn’t eat myself!:)

    • so glad you didn’t lose your little one! those chicken strips from China, my dogs loved them, but they scared me.. I just got lucky that none of my 3 got sick from them.. Been doing the dehydrated ones for well over a year now.

  • Thank you for making this tutorial. I actually picked up a dehydrator today! So excited because I’ve never made any jerky or anything dehydrated. I’m making my dog some plain chicken jerky. Hopefully I can make some beef jerky or some venison jerky in the future :D.

  • I pound the chicken breast, lay out on wire rack with a drip pan under, place in preheated 425 convection oven, after 5 minutes (I do not open the oven door) I turn the oven off, I leave in oven until cooled. I then place in zip lock and store in fridge. They do come out brittle, but I have a small Chihuahua, she loves them. I almost lost hear year ago. Returning home from a trip she became ill and went into a coma while I was holding her. We stopped at the nearest town and this awesome vet saved her. Pancreas failure/damaged. Since then I have to be careful what she eats and treats from China are not on the list. I’m hoping to get a dehydrater for Christmas, but was wondering if you think the way I do it now is safe? Thanks for your info!

    • Hi Linda
      Thanks for the comment, and I’m sorry to hear about your chihuaha. I think what you’re doing is safe, but I might recommend you cook it longer than 5 minutes at 425, but that might overcook them. You could also try cooking them at a lower heat for longer and that might make them less brittle. Possibly 300-350 for 15-20 minutes and then let them continue drying for awhile in the oven with it off. 425 for 5 minutes + drying may kill off most of the surface bacteria, but it may also leave some in an injured state. If she doesn’t have any stomach issues from eating them, they are probably fine, so pat yourself on the back. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I actually used a similar method prior to getting a dehydrator, but getting one made it so much easier. Just lay them on the racks and come back in a few hours. To quote Ina Garten, “How easy is that?” (Yes, i do watch Barefoot Contessa..)

  • This is fantastic, exactly what I was looking for. I see turkey and chicken are great ingredients to use, do you think this process would work for fish? My dogs love “salmon” treats and I would love to make my own with salmon or cod if the meat will produce a jerky through this process. Thank you so much for your clear instructions!

    • Interesting question! I’ve never tried using fish, but in theory, it should work. Smoking fish has been done for thousands of years, which is essentially dehydration using low heat and wood smoke. The bacterial load on fish purchased at your local grocery store might be a bit higher due to the handling steps before purchase. It’s not the same as sushi grade fish used by your local sushi restaurants. I would hope a dog’s stomach could handle it, but it would be worth a shot if you picked up some salmon filets. Give your dog a piece or two and see how they handle it. However, I would think it might be real stinky during the dehydration process! A fun idea might be to marinate the salmon in a tbsp or two of liquid smoke for a an hour prior to dehydrating. That might give it a smokey taste, as well as offset the odors produced during the drying process. Good luck!

      I’ll write another article if I try it, now that’s it peaked my interested.

  • Thank you so much for such a clearly written tutorial. I just bought a square Nesco dehydrator so that I can make my own chicken treats for the dogs. Poor things went through withdrawal a couple of years ago when I stopped buying the crappy Chinese treats. Hope these make them happy. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Got a giant tray on sale for $7.00. Yes, a bit fiddly to prepare, but as a mom of chicken cutlet addicts, it wasn’t really that time consuming compared to making dinner! My big package of chicken made 4 fully laden racks of good sized strips (not touching each other). I generously trimmed everything remotely fatty or choppy looking, but it will be cooked up and used in the dogs’ dinners. I was feeling pretty proud of myself, until I realized I had no idea how long to run the machine for this application! Your online article was a life saver. Thank you again.

    • Glad the article helped Lisa! One of the only downsides (if there has to be one) is that they do take quite awhile to dry out. But the peace of mind and reward of making them yourself far outweighs the time!

      • Well, the jury’s in, and the treats passed muster with the both big eating machine and the finicky princess. And I am so glad I can now offer pure chicken, sourced and made in the good ol’ USA!

        After running the machine for about 7 1/2 hours, I separated the racks and allowed everything to cool overnight. They were really thin-cut, narrow strips, so they dried out just right. These break apart easier that the old store-bought Chinese type ones. They definitely look more appealing, and there’s nothing toxic! I have them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge (just in case), but I can tell they won’t last long enough for me to worry about spoilage.

        I was really surprised this exercise worked so well. Once I’m proficient and move quickly on these, I might try other types of meat treats. Will keep you posted. Thank you again.

  • HI, I live in UK. I just bought a dehydrator and am currently making chicken jerky for the dog with no seasoning at all. My dehydrator’s top temperature is 158f which on manual says thats the temp for cooking meat. Will the chicken be safe to eat for the dog without the salt or precooking before hand?

  • You have the same Dehydrator as I do. This is my second one, the old one did not have a temperature switch. The only problem with this Dehydrator is there is no on/off switch. I have been making chicken strips for years. My dogs love them!

    • Good observation! That’s definitely one of the drawbacks of this dehydrator, I don’t know why a simple on/off switch couldn’t be incorporated into the design. My workaround was to just have it on a small, but heavy gauge power strip (the ones with the beefy cord to handle the load).

  • Is there any concerns about cooking chicken on the dehydrator trays, washing them very good, then cooking any other veg or fruits on the same trays? I am thinking I may just need to dedicate 2-3 trays for chicken only. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Kellybel,
      Sorry for the delay in responding, this comment slipped by my catlike reflexes. As long as you wash them well with antibacterial soap in between different foods, you should have zero concern with cross contamination. Luckily, most trays are also dishwasher safe, so that’s my go-to method after making a batch of jerky. You should treat them like your cutting boards and knives that you use to prepare other meats. I find that I sometimes get these tiny bits of dehydrated/melted chicken stuck in between the screens on the trays, which I either have to pick off or use a green abrasive sponge to remove. But even then, any bacteria on them is likely desiccated beyond recognition. Hope this helps!

      • Sahil.. glad to have found your website. My cat loves dehydrated chicken. I’ve been buying Whole Life, which says sourced & made in USA .. but it costs a fortune. $19. for 4 ounces…so $76. a pound.
        I want to make it myself, but am hesitant. Your photos show chicken breasts looking orange (and you mention that color) – but aren’t chicken breasts universally … White? The Whole Life brand is also white strips/ pieces. Does the dehydrating cause the color change?
        Thanks for your response.

        PS …Might it not be a good idea to reverse your postings, so the oldest is at the bottom, and the newest at the top?

        • Hey Pamela! Thanks for your comment. You’re right, chicken breast is universally white when cooked (when the proteins in the meat have denatured-like egg whites). However, since dehydrating isn’t the same as cooking with heat, but rather just pulling the water content from the meat, I think that’s why the meat doesn’t turn white. The Whole Life brand might be cooking the chicken prior to dehydrating it, which you can probably do too, I just don’t since it saves time and my dogs’ stomachs doesn’t seem to mind solely dehydrated chicken. I recommend getting phosphate/nitrate free chicken when possible, since many poultry suppliers pump these solutions into the meat to make them more moist. Since I doubt any of these chemicals come out of the chicken meat during dehydration, but rather concentrate in the meat itself, I recommend avoiding the unknown consequences.

          Thanks for the bottom up suggestion for the comments. I just need to figure out how to do it now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sahil – thank you for the great article! I have been buying chicken jerky from a local producer for a while now and they really are well made. But I am not always sure how fresh they are. So I decided it give dehydration a try myself. Your article gave me the courage. The directions were awesome and the jerky turned out perfect! It’s worth the effort to make sure my 2 sweet Basset Hounds have safe and fresh treats.

    One additional tip I can provide, a good butcher will slice the chicken very thin for you. Then it’s just a matter of cutting off the excess fat and yo the right width.

    Anyway, appreciate your information! Two paws up from the hounds ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Is it safe to handle whilst dehydrated due to the chicken still being raw? I know to wash hands anyway but like putting a bit down in the side before giving it to our dog, do I have to be aware of it? X

  • I probably would suggest you test you dehydrator with a thermometer or something to make sure its getting not up to that temperature/165

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