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

Mold… 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 treats mold and some do not? The first thing people say to us is… the icing melted and caused my treat to mold. Actually, it’s not the icing at all, seriously put a decorated treat in your oven and see if the icing melts. The icing does not melt in the refrigerator or freezer either… But, what does melt in the refrigerator? Well, I guess ice cream does…. and items do defrost but.. melt? Let’s take a look at the real issue… “moisture” “water” and “condensation” because those will cause icing and frosting to become “wet” again, not to be confused with the word “melting”. Remember the opposite, air and heat harden your icing/frosting… cold does not… once you have that down you will be amazed at how much fun you can have. 


Here are some helpful tips to prevent mold and tacky icing:


  1. How much moisture is in your treat after you bake it? You can send it off to the lab to find out. You can also crack your treat to see if they “snap” instead of “bend”.
  2. After you decorate your treat are you wrapping it in plastic immediately? Don’t… be sure the treat dries completely because the icing needs AIR to dry; if you wrap it in plastic there’s not enough air left inside to finish drying the icing which would keep “moisture” in the icing and yes, it will get moldy in @ 7 days. 
  3. Do you refrigerate or freeze your decorated treats? That’s fine, BUT remember to “air” dry the icing again because refrigeration and freezers create moisture, which makes the icing “wet” again. By the way… if you do want to keep the icing on the softer side you can leave it in the refrigerator because the moisture will keep it wet. Remember, it is best not to wrap your treats in plastic prior to freezing or refrigerating because the moisture will create condensation “inside” the plastic, the icing and/or frosting will need to be removed from the plastic in order to “air” dry again before placing it back into plastic. 
  4. 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. 
  5. WHAT are you to do??? If you are in love with plastic try “polyethylene” bags instead of “polypropylene” bags… Polyethylene bags are more “breathable” You can also switch to paper bags or boxes. Keep all of your treats away from direct sun (not just the decorated ones). 
  6. We leave test treats on our car’s dashboard, in direct sun, for 2 weeks during hot months to see if they withstand the hot summer conditions. We also leave unpacked treats out for display and store the packaged ones out of direct sun and hand them to customers as they purchase them. 
  7. Yes, food coloring will fade in the sun, especially all natural coloring.
  8. 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)!

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  • Briana

    How do you reduce the moisture in the treats when baking so that they are ready to ship?

  • Kaly White

    I had that problem and started using the “polyethylene” bags 2 years ago and it worked well. Thanks for writing that wonderful, informative article that every dog treat baker needs to read.

  • Judy

    This was a VERY INSIGHTFUL explanation! You took something confusing and made it totally easy to understand!
    NOT only do you make superior products, you explain the how’s and why’s of issues we may experience!

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