One of the advantages of homemade dog treats is that they don’t contain any chemicals or preservatives, but this also means that there are some special considerations when it comes to storage. While store-bought dog biscuits contain preservatives that allow them to be stored at room temperature for extended periods of time, the shelf life of a homemade treat is totally dependent on the freshness of the ingredients, the product’s moisture content, and its storage conditions. With these things in mind, here are a few of my tips for getting the most out of your baking efforts.
The drier (i.e. crunchier) the treat, the more stable it is at room temperature. Therefore, dry biscuits and cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature—ideally in a cool, dry place—while moist treats, like muffins and cakes, and any treats containing meat and/or cheese should be stored in the refrigerator.
I have found that most crunchy dog biscuits and cookies will keep for about 3 weeks when stored properly. Chewy and/or moist treats, however, will only keep for about 10 days.
That said, freezing will greatly extend the shelf life of any of these products. If stored neatly in a properly sealed, airtight container, most dog treats will keep well for 2 to 3 months in the freezer. Pacey is a fairly small dog, so it can take a long, long time for him to snack his way through a full batch of my homemade treats. Rather than race against an “expiration date,” I typically freeze half (or more) of the baked treats right away. Every few days I’ll pull out only the amount of treats that I’ll need. If you’re really organized, you could even freeze the treats in small, resealable bags, so that they’re already portioned into whatever amount is practical for you and your dog. For the best quality it’s important that all of the treats are completely cool before you place them into the freezer.
Remember that I’m only offering general guidelines here. Always use your discretion. As with “people food,” if a treat looks or smells moldy or spoiled at all, do not serve it. Dogs are susceptible to bacteria just like humans, and your dog deserves only the very best.