A healthy dog is a happy dog and your dog’s treats should help them be both. Unfortunately, many of the treats you find at the store may be tasty but they also hurt your dog’s health.
Unlike dog food, mass produced dog treats aren’t required to meet any nutritional requirements. They could be full of fat, sugar, and even nasty fillers which aren’t good for your dog. Moreover, some dog treats are unsafe. The FDA recommends avoiding chicken jerky treats especially from China. Because they’ve been linked to kidney disease and even death in some dogs.
Protecting your pet’s health and happiness is your job as a pet owner. Fortunately, making homemade dog treats is simple.
Here’s everything you need to know about treating your pet to healthy dog treats made in your own kitchen. We’ll even throw in a few dog treat recipes at the end.
4 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Dog Treats
Life gets busy, but your dog’s health is worth taking the time in the kitchen to make them treats. Not a confident baker? Here are a few good reasons why you should still make your dog their own treats.
1. You Already Own Dog Treat Ingredients
Some people are afraid of making dog treats because they don’t know how to find specialty ingredients. Fortunately, the best dog treats don’t require any specialist ingredients. In fact, most of what you need is already in your kitchen.
Here are some of the most common ingredients in homemade dog treats:
- Flour (wheat, coconut or oats)
- Peanut butter
2. You’ll Control What Goes into Their Treats
The ingredients you put in homemade pet treats are all ingredients you’d eat yourself. That means you don’t have to worry about hidden ingredients, fillers, preservatives, and sugars. You also don’t need to worry about where those ingredients come from like you do for store bought snacks.
Controlling your ingredients is important not only for protecting your pet’s health but their safety. Since 2007, there’s been an avalanche of FDA complaints about jerky treats, often chicken jerky, and illnesses in canines. Many of the ingredients related to the complaints came from places like China. Testing showed some of these treats having pathogenic bacteria, poisonous chemicals, and other nasty things that hurt your dog’s health.
While it seems simple to only choose treats made in the United States, even these treats may contain ingredients sourced from elsewhere.
By making homemade dog treats, there’s no need to worry about any trick ingredients or products.
3. You Can Make Nutritionally Balanced Treats
Unlike dog food, dog treats don’t need to follow guidelines to be marketed as “healthy.” This is problematic because it can be difficult to tell what products are really healthy and when “healthy” is a marketing gimmick.
Even if you do your own sleuthing and ask the manufacturer for the details, they may not know the nutritional makeup or even the ingredients used in their products. In many cases, they will have higher amounts of fillers or starches and won’t be nutritionally balanced.
Instead of relying on manufacturers for details, making your own treats can ensure that you’re providing the right amount of carbs, protein, and fats for your pet. Not only will the homemade dog treats be tasty, but they’ll complement your pets primary diet.
4. You’ll Save Money
High-quality pet treats stretch your budget. During those more difficult months, you either need to wait for a sale, do without, or choose low-end pet treats that may be made with suspect ingredients.
By making your own treats with simple ingredients already in your kitchen, you’ll save money on those extras every month. And, let’s be honest — they don’t have to be beautiful. Your dog will love them just because you made them.
How to Make Homemade Dog Treats
You can make homemade dog biscuits in your own kitchen. Getting started is easy and your dog may love the ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
Some common dog treat ingredients include apples, leafy greens, eggs, flour, bananas, green beans, apple cider vinegar, nuts, cranberries, and papaya. You can also incorporate animal proteins like chicken, turkey, beef, fish, and game.
Your dog loves peanut butter as much as he loves you – maybe more. While peanut butter is a staple in dog biscuits, you can go one step further in baking healthy treats by adding superfoods to your biscuits.
Superfoods add essential vitamins and minerals to your dog treats that help supplement their dog food and give them an extra boost to their overall health. Here are a few superfoods good for you AND your dog:
Carrots include vitamins C and K, fiber, potassium, and carotenoids. These are not only puppy favorites, but the vitamins in carrots also help their bodies produce more energy.
Kale offers plenty of antioxidants as well as vitamins A, E, and C.
Added kale helps their livers process toxins in their body and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Note: Don’t feed kale to dogs with kidney disease or who suffer from bladder stones.
Pumpkin is good for puppies because they have sensitive digestive tracts. It offers plenty of carotenoids, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium and offers whole body benefits. You can use fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin. Just be sure to avoid canned pumpkin pie filling because it contains spices and sugars that might hurt your dog.
You’ve heard about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in humans. They have the same benefit in dogs. The omega-3s found in oily fish are especially helpful for older dogs suffering from arthritis because they help your dog manage inflammation. These nutrients are also essential for a healthy, shiny coat.
Did you know sweet potatoes offer more antioxidants than berries? They’re also full of vitamin A, which supports your pup’s heart. Not to mention, they are delicious!
Quinoa is often lumped into the grain category, but it’s actually related to spinach. This seed is a good way to get digestible protein into your dog’s diet while also providing antioxidants that help fight diabetes.
Blueberries are a tasty treat high in antioxidants as well as vitamin C and vitamin E. These berries may be delicious, but don’t let your pup enjoy the whole packet. Too many blueberries may hurt your pup’s digestive tract.
Foods to Avoid
You and your dog probably enjoy many of the same foods. But there are some foods your dog should never eat, especially in large qualities.
Do not include these foods in your dog biscuits:
- Apple seeds (apples are fine)
- Raw fish
- Pits or seeds
- Macadamia nuts and Walnuts
- Onions and Garlic
- Raisins or Currants
Dog Treat Recipes
Check out these dog cookie recipes to see just how easy making your own treats can be.
Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits from Food52
This dog biscuit recipe from Erin McDowell at Food52 is an easy way to whip about three dozen dog biscuits in a few minutes.
- ½ cup peanut butter (unsalted)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable, coconut, or the oil from your natural peanut butter)
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Start by combining the wet ingredients using an electric mixer. Once mixed, add the flours to the dough gradually. Once the flour is added, mix for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Lightly flour a flat surface and roll the dough until it is ¼” thick, then cut out the biscuits using a cookie cutter.
Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 18 minutes.
Frozen Dog treats from OffBeat Home & Life
These grain-free dog treats from OffBeat Home & Life are perfect for the warm summer months. They include the right amount of protein, carbs, and offers the added mineral elements found in carrots. The parsley isn’t just for garnish – it also busts bad doggy breath.
- 2 cups cooked chicken/pork/fish
- ¾ cup plain yogurt (low-fat or fat-free)
- Finely chopped parsley
- 1 cooked and mashed carrot
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together well.
Once mixed, add scoops to an ice cube tray and freeze. The yogurt will bind the ingredients together.
Image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, by Echo9er, via Flikr
Want a sweet and fruity treat chockful of antioxidants? These homemade frosty treats from Raise a Green Dog are full of sweet fruit, protein, and antioxidants.
- 32 oz yogurt (plain and low-fat)
- 3 handfuls of blueberries
- 1 banana
- 2 tbsp of peanut butter (unsalted)
- Other fruit like apples, oranges, or pineapple
Mash or slice the banana. Then, mix all the ingredients together and add to freezer trays.
The yogurt will bind the ingredients together.
Become Your Pet’s Personal Chef
Your pet’s health is directly related to the food you give him, and unfortunately, you can’t rely on dog treat manufacturers to use the right ingredients.
Making your own pet treats is easy and fun. You don’t even need special ingredients or skills – the food you have on hand will likely make the most delicious treats your pup has ever eaten.
Do you make your pet’s treats at home? What ingredients does your dog just love? Share your stories and recipes in the comments below.