Monday, November 30, 2015

Yam and Sweet Potato Dog Chews

Easy DIY Dog Treats


Yam and sweet potato chews are healthy, nutritious, grain-free treats for your dog.  Although you can buy sweet potato chews (see below), they are expensive to buy and making them yourself is easy and inexpensive.



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How to Make Yam or Sweet Potato Chews



I usually make a big batch of yam and sweet potato jerky around the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays when they tend to be readily available and on sale.  For this batch I used three large yams, but the process is exactly the same whether you use sweet potatoes or yams.

Washing yams

First I rinse the yams in water to wash off any surface dirt and then dry them off.

Yams sliced in half 
Since yams can be hard and difficult to cut, I find it easier and safer to cut them in half first.  Then I cut off any bad spots and turn them flat side down on the cutting board to prevent them from rolling around when I slice them.

Slicing yams lengthwise
Since my dogs are medium to large and are very enthusiastic chewers, I like to make big yam jerky strips by cutting them length-wise about 1/4 inch thick.  No, I don't measure each one. I like to keep things easy.  If you have smaller dogs or want to make more bite-size pieces you can also cut them cross-wise into half rounds.

Yam slices ready for dehydrating in the oven

After I've finished slicing I arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer.  To prevent the slices from sticking to the baking sheet and make clean-up easier, line the pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.  Don't use non-stick sprays, oil or butter.

Dehydrating Yam Chews in the oven
Bake in the oven at 250 F for about 3 hours.  I sometimes also use my food dehydrator, which typically takes about 24 hours.

Turning the yam chew slices
After about an hour and a half (about half-way through the baking time), turn the slices.

Yam slices cooling
Some of the smaller slices will get done faster, so about the last half-hour of baking, I start removing ones that are dried and set them on a baking sheet to cool.  A few of the thicker, larger slices may take a bit longer.

Will Your Dog Like Yam Chews?

Since a picture beats a thousand words, below are photos showing what my border collies, Tim and Hank think about yam chews.

Here is Tim's reaction.....  Sorry about the blurry photo.  It was hard to slow him down enough to take a clearer shot.


Tim the border collie taking his yam chew


And here is a photo of an eager Hank.  Please watch the fingers, buddy!

Hank the border collie with a home-made yam jerky treat

In case you wanted to see another photo of Tim being offered another yam jerky treat.  

Tim the border collie goes wild for yam jerky
And below another photo of wild-eyed Hank....


Hank the border collie eating a home-made yam chew treat

Easy on the fingers, again buddy!  Yes, that's drool on the chin in anticipation of his yam chew.  So I guess that would be 4 paws up from Tim and Hank.  Or would it be 8 paws up?

If you don't want to make your own (but why wouldn't you?), I recommend Sam's Yam's.  They are a natural dried sweet potato chew made in the USA:



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Sweet Potato and Yam Nutritional Information


sweet potato nutrition facts: cal 120, fat 0 g, carbs 29 g, dietary fiber 4 g, sugars 9 g, protein 2 g, vit a 520%, vit c 35%, calcium 4%, iron 6%
Sweet Potato and Yam Nutritional Information - USDA - Public Domain

Sweet potatoes and yams are high in several important nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron and calcium. They are also fat-free and low in sodium.  Obviously the nutritional information above obtained from the USDA is what is recommended for humans, but these vitamins and minerals are important for our pets, too.

Storing Your Home-made Yam Chews

If the chews are thoroughly dehydrated they could be kept in a jar, which looks cute, but if you live in a humid climate they might retain enough moisture to mold.  I keep mine in the freezer just to be on the safe side and take out a few at a time to thaw.  Or my dogs will even eat them frozen!

Yam jerky treats in a jar

Have your dogs tried yam and sweet potato chews?  How did they react?



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