Is it OK to Feed Raw Dog Food to a Dog With Cancer?

Is it OK to Feed Raw Dog Food to a Dog With Cancer?

Raw dog food for dogs with cancer – Is it OK to feed raw dog food to a dog with cancer?

I recently learned that raw dog food isn’t ideal for most dogs affected by cancer.

When a dog’s body is weakened by cancer, she has a hard time digesting raw cuts of meat and raw foods in general, according to Dr. Demian Dressler’s Dog Cancer Blog.

Several light bulbs went off in my head when he mentioned one of the symptoms of doing poorly on raw when affected by cancer is diarrhea. My cancer pup Missy has had some sporadic runny poops these last few weeks before I learned her cancer was back. Her cancer has returned 3 years after the first tumor was removed.

Is it OK to feed raw dog food to a dog with cancer?

If your dog has cancer, Dr. Dressler’s advice is to lightly cook your dog’s food.

Taking Dr. Dressler’s advice to heart, I’ve had to slightly adjust meal prep in our pack from filling two bowls with cuts of raw meat to just one. Since my other dog Buzz is healthy, he has no trouble digesting his raw food and continues eating and thriving on it.

My cancer patient Missy on the other hand now needs to have her food lightly cooked. Interestingly enough, the diarrhea she was having stopped almost as soon as I began feeding her cooked food, so Dr. Dressler seems to be on to something!

Should you feed raw dog food for dogs with cancer?

Food pic (above): Buzz’s raw food bowl contains a turkey neck, ground turkey, calf liver, some of Missy’s puréed veggies, turmeric past and air-dried green tripe. Missy’s bowl contains lightly cooked ground turkey, cooked calf liver, boiled/puréed veggies, cottage cheese and turmeric paste.

What foods to give dogs that have cancer

The base of Missy’s meals still consist of muscle meat and organs, but instead of being offered raw, I now cook them on low heat in a pan. Following Dr. Dressler’s advice, I also started giving her a good amount of boiled, puréed, non-starchy veggies with each meal.

I learned that carrots and potatoes need to be avoided as they are high in carbs which turn into sugar, which in turn feed the cancer. I’m being very strict about following that rule.

Is it OK to feed raw dog food to a dog with cancer?

I never believed in feeding potatoes either way, but the pups DID get some carrots every now & then, which is now a thing of the past. So for the past 2 weeks, Missy’s been having a mix of broccoli, brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms, and totally loves it.

According to Dr. Dressler, other veggies that can be fed to cancerous dogs are:

  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • cooked mung beans
  • and red & yellow bell peppers

I’ll be alternating between those.

I also learned that brown rice is an excellent source of energy for canine cancer patients. Unlike potatoes and carrots which are simple carbs, brown rice is a complex one, meaning it’s higher in nutrients and fiber, and takes longer to digest.

Its bran (the outer layer) is also rich in polysaccharides which have cancer-fighting properties, so I AM essentially breaking my very own rule of not feeding grains. Then again, my grain-free diet conviction is geared towards healthy, cancer-free dogs, so I’ll trust the professional’s opinion on brown rice being beneficial for dogs challenged by cancer.

In case you’re wondering, Buzz is not getting any brown rice with his raw meals. I have a feeling that grains might have been an underlying cause of his frequent ear infections he suffered from prior to eating raw cuts of meat. Since he hasn’t had a SINGLE ear infection since eating raw, I’m not taking any chances of reintroducing those.

What about raw meaty bones?

Missy still needs calcium to maintain her muscular strength and keep her teeth in great shape, but cooking her raw meaty bones is not an option as they would get brittle and possibly wreak havoc on her internal organs. So far, I’ve found two good solutions that agree with her body and don’t cause diarrhea:

1) Hold the raw meaty bone under warm, running water for several minutes until it has warmed up, then offer it to her whole as usual.

2) Replace the raw meaty bone with cottage cheese, which is a great source of calcium, and which Dr. Dressler recommends to be included in every meal.

While I have been giving her a tablespoonful of cottage cheese at mealtime, I’ve also still given her 2 raw meaty bones each week as I still want her to experience the oral benefits that come with eating them.

See my post: How to safety feed your dog raw bones.

Stepping my dog’s nutrition up one more notch

During the duration of Missy’s cancer treatment, I’ll be stepping her nutritional needs up one more notch by getting her a customized meal plan and homeopathic preparations from a local homeopathic veterinarian, Dr. Charles Loops, who’s practiced alternative medicine for over 20 years.

I’ve heard great things about him and one of my favorite holistic veterinarians, Dr. Karen Becker, even interviewed him on the use of nosodes in lieu of vaccinations. What are the odds of him living in our neck of the woods?!

I will add that 95% of his consultations are conducted over the phone, so if you don’t live here in North Carolina and are interested in getting his opinion on a medical issue your pup may be experiencing, you can easily do so.

My goal in looking into this alternative approach is twofold. I want to maximize Missy’s life expectancy as well as offer her the best quality of life I can.

Boxer mixes Buzz and Missy - Is it OK to feed raw dog food to a dog with cancer?

I realize that Missy may succumb to this second tumor. However, I’ve heard stories of cancerous dogs supplemented with homeopathic remedies whose life expectancies drastically exceeded those predicted by their oncologists. So I’m definitely giving this alternative treatment approach a try.

Until then, we’ll continue feeding Dr. Dressler’s cancer diet of lightly cooked protein, boiled & puréed veggies, brown rice and cottage cheese.

P.S. I’d like to thank That Mutt’s community for taking an interest in Missy’s cancer diagnosis and expressing support by wishing us well. You guys rock!

A special thank you to reader Chris who pointed me in the direction of the Dog Cancer Blog in his comment on my previous post for That Mutt! As you can tell, I followed your advice and successfully implemented Dr. Dressler’s feeding suggestions for dogs with compromised immune systems 🙂

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt about feeding her two boxer mixes a raw dog food diet. She is a blogger and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

Related posts:

Homemade raw dog food recipes

DIY dehydrated dog treats

Cancer Trumped Raw Dog Food

Cancer Trumped Raw Dog Food

Cancer and raw dog food

Today I’m sharing some bad news with you guys. Unfortunately, it looks like the nasty C has found its way back into our lives in form of a mast cell tumor on my dog Missy’s throat.

For those of you who don’t know – my Boxer mix Missy was first diagnosed with cancer in late 2014, at only 3 years of youth. Back then, she had a similar tumor removed and underwent 4 rounds of preventative chemotherapy treatment, for the grand total of $7,689.20.

Our medical illness insurance through Pets Best ended up covering $6,177.18. As the monthly insurance rate has since then climbed from $76 to $185, I just recently scratched the illness protection from our insurance plan (go figure) and only kept accident coverage, which is an affordable $20 per month.

How I found out about my dog’s cancer

A few days ago, I took Missy to our regular vet for an exam to have 2 lumps checked out. One is on the right side of her throat where the first tumor was located. The other one is on the left side of her face, right below her left ear.

Buzz and Missy, two raw fed boxer mixes

Our vet Dr. Schaller first looked at the one located on her face and was confident when stating that she could take it off at her practice, but the expression on her face immediately changed when she felt the lump on Missy’s throat.

It appears to be a grade II mast cell tumor. Those grow below the skin in the subcutaneous tissues.

Referral to oncologist

Our vet explained she would have to refer us back to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital (VSH) in Cary, N.C., where Missy had been treated in late 2014/early 2015. She gave Missy a heartfelt kiss on her cute little head. Gulp.

After Dr. Schaller made the referral to the VSH, I called to make an appointment with one of their oncologists. Missy will be examined Monday afternoon (the day this blog post goes live) and given a prognosis. We’ll take it from there, and I’ll keep you guys updated on our new cancer journey. Paws crossed for somewhat good news.

Cancer and raw dog food – Cancer busted my bubble

Now what does all of this have to do with raw feeding? Well, Missy’s first cancer diagnosis got me started on our raw feeding journey. Until then, her and her brother Buzz had been on a kibble/wet food diet, essentially for the first 3 years of their lives.

So while Missy was doing a great job kicking cancer’s butt with the help of the oncologist staff at the VSH, I attempted to understand how a 3 year old dog could possibly come down with cancer.

Cancer and raw dog food - Missy the boxer mix

Missy after her tumor removal surgery

On, I learned that Boxers are genetically predisposed to having the highest incidence of mast cell tumors, which did, indeed, end up being Missy’s Boxer mom’s death sentence at age 3.

I also heard holistic veterinarians such as Dr. Karen Becker, Dr. Dee Blanco, and the many contributors of Dogs Naturally Magazine say and write that highly processed dog food might be contributing to the canine cancer epidemic.

The benefits of a raw dog food diet

Coincidentally, I kept hearing them talk about an alternative that sounded intriguing to me – a fresh, raw food diet with the following benefits:

  • severely reduced allergy symptoms
  • shiny, full coats
  • white teeth
  • smaller poop
  • less doggie smell
  • strengthened immune system
  • and, what stuck with me the most, a reduced cancer risk.

So while I obviously couldn’t do anything about my little puppy girl being part Boxer, I figured I could at least give this raw food thing a try in order to keep the cancer at bay for as long as possible. Hopefully many, many years.

Over the course of the past 3 years, I was able to notice many of above listed benefits in both pups. Their coats are beautiful and shiny, their teeth are clean without me having to brush them and Buzz no longer has ear infections. Their poop volume has decreased, and they truly don’t have that typical dog smell.

I admit that once the first two yearly complete blood counts showed that Missy (& Buzz) were in great health, I didn’t think that we’d ever be dealing with cancer again.

Well, the nasty C just proved me wrong. While Missy stayed free of mast cell tumors for 3 years, the darn cancer has caught back up with us and busted my bubble, despite feeding a species-appropriate, raw meat diet.

Missy the boxer mix during a chemotherapy session

Missy during a chemotherapy session

Am I going to continue to feed my dogs raw?

You may be wondering whether I’m going to continue to feed raw? You bet.

And every dog who’ll follow in Missy’s (& her brother Buzz’s) paw prints will be fed a fresh, nourishing raw meat diet. That’s a promise you can hold me to. Although, I don’t believe a raw diet can 100% eliminate the cancer threat, especially in dog breeds that are at high risk of being diagnosed with cancer due to their genetics.

I do, however, believe that it contributes tremendously to overall health. It strengthens the canine immune system and ultimately lengthens their life expectancy.

Ask any raw feeder who proudly shows off their raw fed pups on social media and preaches about the many health benefits. Those thousands of people have got to be on to something. Need some inspiration? Just do a hashtag search on Instagram for #RawFeedingCommunity or join a raw feeding Facebook group.

Who knows, maybe Missy’s cancer would have returned a lot sooner than it did had I continued feeding her highly processed, dry dog food. Maybe the raw diet DID buy us 3 additional years with Missy.

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt about feeding her two boxer mixes a raw dog food diet. She is a blogger and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

Related posts:

When a dear old dog has cancer (my mom’s blog, Nancy’s Point)

Benefits of a raw diet for cats

Homemade raw dog food recipes


Supplies for Feeding Raw Dog Food: 7 Accessories I Can’t Live Without

Supplies for Feeding Raw Dog Food: 7 Accessories I Can’t Live Without

My pups Missy & Buzz got their first raw meals in 2015, and our raw feeding journey has been an ongoing learning curve ever since. Today I’m sharing 7 of my favorite raw dog food accessories I’ve come to appreciate over the past 3 years

Supplies for feeding raw dog food: 7 accessories

1. Stainless Steel Bowls

One of my mantras of feeding raw dog food is keeping our meal prep space and eating areas clean to avoid potential bacterial growth, and – quite frankly – because I’m a neat freak and dirty dog food dishes are a pet peeve of mine. ANY dirty dishes, really.

So it’s a no-brainer that Missy’s & Buzz’s bowls get washed after every meal, either by myself or the dishwasher. The ones I currently have for the pups are about 6 years old and I’ve washed them twice per day every day of those 6 years. At 2,190 days (365 days x 6 years) and 4,380 times of contact with hot soapy water, they STILL look like they’re brand spanking new.

Raw dog food supplies - stainless steel dog bowls

I prefer stainless steel bowls over plastic ones because they’re essentially indestructible, super easy to clean, and dishwasher safe.

View stainless steel bowls on Amazon here.

2. Sharp Knives & Scissors

Sharp knives are an absolute necessity whenever I feed raw meat that hasn’t been pre-ground and put together for me. That’s the case when I buy larger cuts of meat or whole animals such as chickens or turkeys at a local grocery store, and when I get a raw dog food shipment I ordered online. It’ll typically consist of a variety of cuts of meat that still need portioning. I’m thinking of larger hearts such as beef or goat hearts, beef cheeks and lungs, or turkey gizzards.

Supplies for feeding raw dog food - bowls, knives, cutting board, scale

I found that certain knives work better on certain cuts of meat – bread knives for example are wonderful to cup up tougher meat such as beef tongue, beef cheek, beef backstrap, tracheas, or pork jowls, whereas carving knives are great for cutting up larger hearts, liver, and breast meat.

Search kitchen knives on Amazon here.

Kitchen knives for raw feeding

After a few frustrating approaches of trying to cut up lung using knives, I had a major AHA moment when I decided to try my luck with scissors. They cut through lung’s sponge-like consistency like nothing else!

3. Food Scales

I own a digital food scale and a manual food scale. They’re both great at ensuring I measure out the right amount of food at mealtime and whenever doing batch meal prep. That’s the case when I receive a larger raw food delivery and when I’m putting meals together for a time frame during which I’ll be out of town and a pet sitter will be feeding Missy & Buzz. I won’t expect them to put together the pups’ meals, and it’s peace of mind for me knowing the pups are getting the right amount of food.

The one advantage of the manual scale over the digital one is that it doesn’t run out of battery juice.

Digital food scales on Amazon.

4. Sturdy Wood Cutting Board

Supplies for feeding raw dog food

My favorite wood cutting board measures a little over 1 inch in thickness, which means it’s heavy enough not to slide on my counters when I’m cutting up raw meat.

It can’t go into the dishwasher since it’s made of wood, so I hand wash it with hot soapy water. It’s important to let it air-dry completely before putting it away to avoid bacterial growth. I actually have enough counter space to store it with air circulation in mind, leaning against the fridge.

About once a month I treat it with mineral oil to ensure that the wooden surface stays smooth and doesn’t crack, which prevents bacteria buildup.

View cutting boards on Amazon here.

5. Food Storage Containers

I’ve accumulated a large variety of food storage containers over the past 3 years of feeding raw. I use the smallest ones to store pieces of liver or an organ grind I buy online (it’s called Monstermash by Raw Feeding Miami).

Supplies for feeding raw dog food - storage containers

The largest ones are perfect to accommodate raw meaty bones such as whole chicken leg quarters or turkey wings. The medium size ones hold smaller raw meaty bones like duck heads or chicken feet, cut up muscle meat, and pre-portioned raw meals.

6. Towels

On days when it’s nice outside, the pups get to enjoy their raw meaty bones outside in our back yard. But whenever I feed raw meaty bones inside, I place a towel under them that the pups know to eat from. Once they’re done eating, I simply toss the towel(s) into the wash. I have about 10 older towels that have been turned into doggie towels over the years.


7. Freezer Space

I still don’t have a freezer chest designated entirely for the pups’ raw meat hauls, but I do have a decent amount of freezer space in my side-by-side refrigerator. That’s important, especially on days when I get raw food shipments that I have to store until meal prep day.

Do you have any favorite accessories or supplies for feeding raw dog food?

In the comments, let us know if you have any suggestions or questions.

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt about feeding her two boxer mixes a raw dog food diet. She is a blogger and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

This post contains affiliate links.

Related posts:

How do you feed your dog raw while traveling?

Raw dog food on a budget

Can dogs eat raw pork?

Raw Dog Food on a Budget – 2 DIY Raw Dog Food Recipes

Raw Dog Food on a Budget – 2 DIY Raw Dog Food Recipes

The message I’d like to bring across today is that raw feeding doesn’t have to be overly expensive.

I’ve been running a survey on my blog for a few months about reasons keeping dog owners from feeding their four-legged besties a raw diet. Affordability is a common concern.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Feeding your dog a balanced, raw diet certainly can be expensive, especially if you’re relying on pre-made raw dog food from a pet retail store.

That convenience factor is somewhat comparable to human fresh food that has been pre-assorted and packed up. I’m thinking Blue Apron or Hello Fresh – these typically come with a steeper price tag.

Today I’m going to share two easy raw dog food recipes my pups Missy & Buzz start drooling for the minute I mix them up.

They consist of only 5 ingredients each, all of which I was able to find at a local big name retail chain!

I found all the ingredients at Walmart

This may sound surprising, but I was able to find all the ingredients for our raw meals in the grocery section of a local Walmart.

I made it a point to go ingredient shopping there to prove that a raw meal:

  • doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive
  • can be shopped for locally

Bonus: By combining raw dog food shopping with your own grocery shopping, you can reduce your carbon footprint. No need to have raw dog food purchased online shipped your way.

I put together two different meals following the 80-10-10 formula:

  • 80% muscle meat
  • 10% raw meaty bone
  • 5-10% organs

The only component I wasn’t able to find at Walmart was a different secreting organ besides liver.

Ultimately, you’ll want to add some of those such as kidneys or sweetbreads. They don’t necessarily have to make it into every single raw meal. We strive to achieve balance over time, within about 7-10 days.

You can find secreting organs in Asian markets or ask your local butcher/farmer if they’d be willing to sell them to you.

Buying organ meat online is another option but will require shipping unless you live close enough to the retailer’s warehouse and are able to pick up your order.

I also want to note that I’m feeding my dogs beef liver and chicken liver because beef liver is far more nutritious.

Raw dog food on a budget – two easy recipes for dogs of all sizes

The following are two easy recipes with all ingredients from Walmart. After each ingredient, I listed out the price I paid and the weight, just to give you an overall idea on cost.

Easy beef raw dog food recipe:

Easy raw dog food beef recipe

  • Beef tongue: $19.42 for 3.57 lbs
  • Ground beef: $5.98 for 1 lb
  • Beef oxtails: $12.73 for 2.34 lbs
  • Beef liver: $2.23 for 1.21 lbs
  • Chicken liver: $2.03 for 1.21 lbs

Total Cost: $42.39 for 9.33 lbs

Cost per pound: $4.50

Easy chicken and turkey raw dog food recipe:

Raw dog food on a budget - poultry recipe

  • Chicken breast: $8 for 4 lbs
  • Chicken gizzards: $1.35 for 1 lbs
  • Chicken wings: $4.43 for 1.5 lbs
  • Ground turkey: $3.95 for 1.85 lbs
  • Turkey necks: $2.39 for 1.87 lbs

Total Cost: $20.12 for 10.22 lbs

Cost per pound: $1.90

In comparison, a 6-pound bag of Nature’s Variety Beef Patties from Petco costs $43 or about $7.16 per pound

A 6-pound bag of Turducken (Turkey/Duck/Chicken mix) from Steve’s Real Food purchased at an independently owned pet retail store costs $54 or $9 per pound.

How to serve your dog’s raw meals

All you need to do is cut up or grind the muscle meats and organs and measure out your dog’s portion (more on how much to serve below).

All muscle meats are easy to cut up. I found that a bread knife works best on the beef tongue and the chicken gizzards. The ground beef/turkey are obviously easy to break up into custom portions.

Your dog will get the biggest dental benefit from eating the raw meaty bones whole because they acts like a toothbrush, but they can also be ground. See my post: How to safely feed your dog raw bones.

If your pup has weak teeth that wouldn’t be able to handle whole raw meaty bones or larger pieces of cut up meat, you can grind them.

I tested the grinding capabilities of my food processor and blender, since I don’t own a dedicated meat grinder (yet).

The food processor did a good job grinding the beef tongue:

Raw dog food on a budget - using the food processor

And my blender handled the job of grinding the chicken wings:

Raw dog food on a budget - blending chicken wings

I didn’t bother trying to throw the oxtails or turkey necks in. I had a feeling that might have been too much for my kitchen blades.

While it can be a little tricky to find small or even tiny raw meaty bones for extra small dog breeds, the oxtail packages sold at Walmart contain oxtails of various sizes.

You could use the oxtails that are too large or too small in a batch of bone broth or some other sort of nourishing soup.

Whole chicken wings work great for smaller to medium size dogs. Whole turkey necks are great for larger dogs, especially those who have a tendency to gulp bones whole without giving them a few good crunches.

How much raw dog food to serve

You’ll want to feed 2-3% of your dog’s ideal body weight on a daily basis. Your dog’s size and weight will determine how much meat their meals will consist of and how long the amount of meat purchased will last.

Missy weighs 50 lbs and eats 1 lb of meat every day. Nine to 10 lbs of food would last her about 9 days.

Buzz weighs 70 lbs and eats 1 lb 6 oz every day. The 9 to 10 lbs would last him about 6.5 days.

Raw chicken and turkey recipe

I measured out meals for our imaginary 10 & 20 lb doggie friends. The 10 lb pup would eat around 3 oz per day, meaning the 9 to 10 lbs would last him about 48 days!

The 20 lb pup would need double his amount on a daily basis and could make the same food last about 24 days.

You’ll also have to take your dog’s activity level and metabolism into account.

I typically feed Missy & Buzz less throughout the summer because our humid climate here in central North Carolina restricts our physical activities.

Now that it’s cooler and they’re more active again, I bumped up their food allowance by 2-3 ounces per meal.

If you’re unsure about your dog’s ideal body weight, check in with your vet and they should be happy to help you figure it out.

See our post: How much raw dog food to feed

Bottom line

I will say that only the ground beef I purchased was from grass-fed beef.

The tongue, oxtails, ground turkey, chicken breasts, wings, necks and livers probably came from grain-fed animals that weren’t pasture raised.

In an ideal world, you’d want to prepare your dog’s raw meals with cuts of meat from organic, grass-fed, happy animals. However, those cuts of meat come at a higher price point and aren’t sold everywhere.

If you have the choice between offering highly processed, dry dog food and a raw meal consisting of non-organic meat, I’d say the latter still trumps the first option and shouldn’t keep you from raw feeding.

You could also opt to replace one of your pups’ daily dry dog food meals with raw food. I recently wrote about being able to mix kibble & raw dog food on my blog when answering a reader’s question about that topic. A little raw is better than none!

Do you have any tips for feeding raw dog food on a budget?

Let us know in the comments!

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt about feeding her two boxer mixes a raw dog food diet. She is a blogger and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

Additional resources:

More homemade raw dog food recipes

How to find affordable raw dog food

How to Make Dehydrated Dog Treats for Your Pup

How to Make Dehydrated Dog Treats for Your Pup

Help your dog eat fresher food by learning how to make dehydrated treats for your dog

Some dogs can be reluctant to eat fresher food, especially if they’ve been on a highly processed diet for years.

One easy way of getting them a step closer to a fresh, raw food diet is to offer them the dehydrated version of a raw meal.

Once dehydrated, those cuts of meat make great food toppers, training treats and snacks for long walks, hikes and road trips. And since Christmas is right around the corner, they also make a thoughtful gift 😉

First I’ll let you know about what foods are great for dehydrating for dogs. Then I’ll let you know more about how to make dehydrated dog treats.

While I feed my dogs a raw diet, dehydrated treats are also a great option for dogs who eat cooked food.

What kinds of meat and other food can be dehydrated for dogs?

There aren’t any limits to which cuts of meat can be dehydrated.

I like to fill the trays of my dehydrator with liver, hearts, gizzards, chicken breast strips and sweet potato. I can find all of these at my local grocery store for very little money.

How to make dehydrated dog treats

Why do I choose those particular cuts of meat? Because liver is an important component of a balanced raw food diet, and so are the chicken meat, hearts and gizzards. The latter count towards muscle meat, which makes up about 80% of a raw meal, while liver makes up 5%.

Note that while hearts are of course an organ per se, they do not count towards organs in raw feeding. Only secreting organs such as liver, kidney, spleen, thymus, pancreas, testicles, ovaries and brains do.

I personally don’t feed veggies such as sweet potato on a daily basis, but there are raw feeders who do. It’s really up to personal preference. See our post: Do dogs need fruits and veggies?

The rest of a balanced raw meal consists of 5% other organs and 10% raw meaty bones.

A quick word about bones. Raw meaty bones are an integral part of feeding a balanced, raw diet because they are chock-full of calcium and phosphorus. These are needed for skeletal & dental health.

I typically don’t dehydrate raw meaty bones because I don’t want to take the chance of them getting brittle and causing potential damage in my pups’ gastrointestinal systems.

However, smaller bones that consist mainly of cartilage like chicken or duck feet would be OK to dehydrate. And they’d also fit just fine on a dehydrator tray.

I get my pups an air-dried treat/chew subscription box from Real Pet Food once a month. The box includes dried cartilage-heavy items like feet and trachea, so I know those are safe to feed.

How to make dehydrated dog treats

How to make dehydrated dog treats

Here’s how I go about making our dehydrated treats:

  • I found it easiest to boil the sweet potato to be able to cut it into thin slices. I remove the skin if it’s not an organic sweet potato; otherwise I leave it on because it contains a good amount of fiber and potassium.
  • I wash the liver and cut it into smaller pieces if it’s not already pre-cut.
  • I also wash the chicken breast, hearts and gizzards before cutting the chicken breast into smaller pieces. Chicken hearts are fairly small, so they don’t require any cutting. If you get your hands on hearts from larger animals such as beef or goats, you’d want to cut those into smaller pieces. I only had to cut a few chicken gizzards in half – turkey gizzards would require some cutting as they’re bigger.
  • Once everything’s been washed, I let it dry a little on paper towels, then I load the dehydrator trays.

How to make dehydrated dog treats

  • It takes the chicken hearts and chicken breast strips about 12 hours to dehydrate; the liver, gizzards, and sweet potato typically need an additional 3 hours because they’re thicker/larger.
  • I put all of the dehydrated treats into a large bowl and let them cool off completely before I store them in mason/regular glass jars. If you make a large batch, you could also stick some of the treats into a ziplock bag and freeze them.
  • I give the dehydrator trays a thorough wash with hot water and dishwashing soap before putting them away.

The beauty of dehydrated food is that it lasts for a considerable amount of time, at least a year! That’s because the dehydration process gently removes moisture from the food at a very low temperature.

Unlike other methods which dry out food at considerably higher temperatures (think cooking and canning), dehydrating it barely damages the nutritional value.

The NESCO dehydrator I use is an older hand me down without a temperature control button, so I’m not exactly sure what the actual temperature is during the dehydration process.

There are higher-end dehydrators that come with temperature guidelines for different foods and adjustable thermostats.

I saw one on Amazon that’s only $65 (comes with adjustable thermostat and 5 trays, but has the option of adding a total of 12 trays):


Browse more food dehydrators on Amazon here.

My pups Missy & Buzz have been on a raw food diet for close to 3 years now. I no longer have to entice them to try fresh food, but let me assure you that they absolutely love their single-ingredient, dehydrated goodies!

How to make dehydrated dog treats for your pup!

Have you tried dehydrating food for your dogs and/or for yourself?

Let us know in the comments!

Also, let us know if you have any questions about feeding your dog a raw diet.

Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt about feeding her two boxer mixes a raw dog food diet. She is a blogger and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.

Related posts:

Primal Patties raw dog food review

When your dog won’t eat certain cuts of raw meat

Where to buy affordable raw meaty bones

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