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How do I Prevent my Decorated Dog Treats from Getting Moldy or Tacky?

Time to read 5 min

Moldy dog treats are never a nice surprise! Mold… is not a nice four letter word. You work so hard to bake and decorate your treats and sometimes they mold. You scratch your head, maybe swear a little and wonder why do some of your dog treats mold and some do not? 

dough with cookie cutter

Should I use a natural preservative for dog treats to prevent mold?

Natural preservatives for dog treats can be used if you want to try to keep your dog treats soft. But, it is not necessary to use preservatives in hard dog treats. All you need is a dehydrator or to keep your treats inside your oven overnight.  (After you turn off your oven, leave the treats in the oven with the door shut). 

Dehydrating your dog treats will help in taking extra moisture out of them giving them a longer shelf life. You will want to be sure your treats “snap” in half afterwards to signify that you dehydrated them long enough. If you do not hear a snap, dehydrate them longer until you do. Keep track of your time and temperature so you will know how long to dehydrate your dog treat recipe the next time you bake them.

If you are looking to make a soft dog treat you can try one of these preservatives: Honey, Rosemary, Vitamin E, or Vitamin C. Just be sure to store them in the refrigerator or freezer afterwards and watch them closely for mold. Technically they will still grow mold but the natural preservative might give them a couple more days, maybe weeks, of shelf life.

dog at a refrigerator

Can I prevent moldy dog treats by storing them in the refrigerator?

The main reason why bakers end up with moldy dog treats is because of excessive moisture which commonly happens during storing them in a refrigerator. What bakers need to recognize is what causes their dog treats to get moldy so they can prevent making the same mistake in the future. The best way to think about moisture is to realize what causes moisture, besides water, itself. 

For example, even if you properly dehydrate the moisture out of your dog treats, moisture can creep back into your dog treats without you even knowing… Keep in mind, if your treats are fully dehydrated and decorated with the correct dog treat icing, you do not need to refrigerate or freeze them! If you feel you still need to keep them cold, I have a few secret tips that will help your current moldy dog treats from growing mold… 

The number one secret way is to properly store them in a refrigerator so the treats stay dry. Why is this a hidden issue? It all comes to the moisture hiding inside which is caused by condensation; which commonly builds up inside your refrigerator! Condensation secretly causes moisture to get back into your treats. A self fix is to check all the air vents on your refrigerator to be sure they are not being blocked or have a bit of dust built up in them. Cleaning the air vents is a pretty quick solution to removing condensation.

frozen fruits

Can I freeze my dog treats so they don't get moldy?

You can absolutely prevent moldy dog treats by freezing them! The problem comes after you defrost them… especially if you decorate them with dog treat icing that dries hard. Here are more secret tips to help you out…

If you decide to freeze your dog treats in plastic or in containers you will want to keep in mind when you are thawing your treats you will want to remove them from whatever you chose to package them in so they can air dry again, regardless if they are decorated on not.

The best way to remember this to think about defrosting meat… it always leaves water as it thaws. If you decorated your dog treats prior to freezing them, you will need to air dry the icing or dog cake frosting again because it will definitely become wet again as it thaws.

That is definitely something to remember if you want to ship decorated treats frozen…  the dog treat icing or frosting will become wet during shipping and.. will be quite messy when it gets to its destination. It is never a good idea to ship decorated treats frozen if you are using a dog treat icing that dries hard. It will always need to be completely air dried again first.

dog treat packaging

Packaging for dog treats is also key to preventing moldy dog treats

Let's talk about plastic for packaging your dog treats, it really does show off your treats nicely, especially if you are displaying decorated dog treats. 

Plastic has its own secrets… yup, I'm not kidding! One is considered better than the other when it comes to preventing moldy dog treats. It's best to choose “polyethylene” bags instead of “polypropylene” bags… Why? Polyethylene bags are more “breathable” than polypropylene bags. (Think of the ones you put your fruits in vegetables in at the store). 

Another tip is to be 100% sure that your decorated dog treats are completely dry before wrapping them in plastic, they will not dry once inside, trust me, I've made that mistake myself! Once you wrap them in plastic there’s not enough air left inside to finish drying the icing which would keep “moisture” inside of the icing and yes, it will get moldy in @ 7 days. Same goes for packaging warm or hot dog treats, let them cool first.
Okay… so you followed the above steps and STILL got that darn four letter word??? Here’s another tip if you wrap, bag, box treats in plastic…. While you are sitting outside at a Farmers Market or walking around your store admiring the sunshine that is beating on your treats… look at the packaging…. Do you see…. condensation? Yep… the heat and humidity makes your plastic packaging “sweat” causing “condensation” which equals… you guessed it! MOISTURE!!! ARGH!!! Looks like “condensation” is our new four letter, well, TWELVE letter word. 

WHAT are you to do??? If you are in love with plastic remember to purchase “polyethylene” bags instead of “polypropylene” bags. You can also switch to paper bags or boxes with plastic windows. Also remember to keep all of your treats away from direct sun (not just the decorated ones). 
When life throws you bad 4 letter or 12 letter words….. don’t give up… think around the issue and you will be back smiling again and making dogs happy before you can say… ok winter is here and I don’t need to worry about this any more! (Well, except for those of you who live in those beautiful sunny all year round States)!

Dog Treat Labels

To effectively label homemade dog treats you will need to follow the guidelines provided to you from your State's Department of Agriculture. Along with their regulations, you will want to add a reminder to people so they can store the treats in order to keep their their freshness, 

Include the date the treats were made, as well as instructions on how long they can be kept in the fridge or freezer. It's crucial to note that homemade treats differ from store-bought ones that last for months in a cardboard box. By labeling the bags with all this information, you will help recipients remember the importance of having their dog consume the treats while they are still fresh.

For step by step, in-depth, personalized classes on "How to Make Money Baking and Selling Custom, Healthy Dog Treats From your Own Home or Storefront" check out our course offerings here: Online Courses and Workshops

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