Making jerky treats for your dog at home might be easier than you may think. Processing your own jerky with deer, chicken, beef or other meat ensures that you are serving quality meat and eliminates the need for preservatives. A food dehydrator is preferred, but you can use an oven.
Human Jerky vs. Dog Jerky
When making your own jerky, you marinate the meat in a variety of different spices and sauces. Your dog doesn’t need that stuff. Seasonings like salt, garlic and onions are not good for dogs, either. Your dog will be happy with plain dried or dehydrated deer meat. Because you are not using preservatives in the jerky, you will need to keep it refrigerated in an airtight container. Store enough for three to four days; freeze the rest for up to six months.
Place your meat in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This makes it easier to cut. Cut your deer meat into slices about 1/8 inch to ¼ inch and place them into your dehydrator. Cutting with the grain will make chewier pieces, while cutting across the grain makes softer jerky. You'll have to follow the instructions that come with your dehydrator; each may vary in processing time, loading capacity, setup and other factors. Follow the instructions precisely. The average processing time is between six hours and 36 hours, depending on your dehydrator. Cut dried jerky into pieces.
Cut your deer meat the same as you would for the dehydrator method. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting. Place an oven-safe cooling rack on a cookie sheet. Lightly brush it with oil. The cooling rack allows air to get underneath the meat and eliminates the need to flip. Line your meat pieces on the rack, making sure none are touching. Bake the meat for two to three hours or until the meat is firm and dry. Take out and cool. Cut into pieces.
Other Jerky Options
Other than deer meat, chicken, turkey, beef and elk also make good jerky. For a different jerky treat, another option is sweet potatoes. Cut thin long slices of a sweet potato using a knife or mandoline. Place them on a cooling rack in the oven the same as you would your deer jerky. Cook the sweet potatoes for two to three hours or until dried. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.