Super Easy, No-Waste Dog Treats

Mavis eyes some freshly made treats

Dogs have always been a part of my life. I grew up with cocker spaniels and my “first child” was a sweet chocolate lab named Caramel. But it wasn’t until Ted that I truly became a dog person.

Ted introduced me to the brilliant—and sometimes maddening—concept that two dogs are better than one, and to the black-and-white herding dog. He has had pairs of border collie/Australian shepherd/cattle dog mixes for years, and together, we are on our second pair. Both of our girls are rescues from the deep South. When the transport driver handed us Dixie in a parking lot off a New Jersey highway one morning before dawn, she was a tiny, 6-7 week-old from Tennessee, still looking to nurse. She is now a sturdy, four-year-old corgi-border collie who nudges us by our ankles to steer us to where she wants to go, and imagines herself the ruler of the roost. Mavis was born in a kennel in Louisiana, where her pregnant mother was found tied to a tree next to a river. A lanky speed demon with an impressive—and often a surprise to visitors—vertical leap (we’re working on her manners) she is as best as we can figure, a border collie-pointer. They both make us laugh, drive us crazy, and melt our hearts, and we can’t imagine our lives without them.

Despite our deep love for these two creatures, we acknowledge that they are animals and we don’t go crazy when it comes to their food. They get high-quality (and shockingly expensive!) dry kibble, and as an occasional bonus, Zogoflex Tux Treat Toys stuffed with Wellness brand canned dog food and frozen. We make these up in in batches and keep them in the freezer for when we have to be out of the house for a period of time, or to occupy the pups when we have company. Our dogs never get fed from the table, but may get a few morsels in the kitchen after a meal.

Good dog food is expensive, and so are good dog treats, so we are indebted to Ted’s mother, Joan, for a homemade treat recipe that is super simple and economical. Joan has two big, lovable Portuguese water dogs who are the center of her universe, and their meals are—how shall I say this—complex. For these easy and nutritious treats, however, she mixes simply ground chicken with an egg, spreads it thin on a cookie sheet and bakes it until it’s dry and crisp. Ted took the process to another level by starting with whole, bone-in chicken thighs, which makes for three types of treats. Along with the ground chicken, he also roasts the skin until it’s crispy (saving the fat for cooking), and the bones are extra-special treats we give to the dogs outdoors. YES, you can give your dogs RAW chicken bones! The raw bones don’t splinter like cooked bones do and are loaded with calcium, which is good for their teeth, nails, and bones.

Whether you follow Ted’s no-waste method, or just start with boneless chicken thighs, I promise you your dogs with love these treats as much as Dixie and Mavis do, and you’ll love how easy and inexpensive they are.

Three treats from one package of chicken thighs, from top left: skin, bones, and meat.

The leash in the background is from our good friend Deb Collins’s Maine-based business, HappyME.

Mavis (left) gently takes a treat while Dixie waits patiently.

Super Easy, No-Waste Dog Treats
  • 4 large, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 300.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Debone the chicken thighs; remove and reserve the skin.
Cut the meat of each thigh in half and place the meat in a food processor with the egg. Process until ground fine.
Spread on the prepared baking sheet to about 1/8-inch thick.
Place the chicken skins on a second baking sheet.
Put both baking sheets in the oven.
The chicken skin should be golden brown and crisp in about 45 minutes; check it periodically. Pour off the chicken fat into a small jar and save in the fridge for cooking if you like, or cool and discard. Break the crispy skin into pieces and store in a sealed jar or plastic bag at room temperature.
The chicken meat treats will be done in about 2 hours. It should be dry and crisp. Let cool, then break into pieces and store in a sealed jar or plastic bag at room temperature.
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These local folks keep our Maine pups happy and healthy:

Fish and Bone (food, treats, toys, and other supplies)

happyME (dog collars and leashes)

Falmouth Veterinary Hospital



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