There are dozens of dog food and dog treat options on store shelves these days. Still, dog treat and pet food recalls regularly appear in the media. That may be one major reason to make your own homemade dog treats.
By doing this, you can avoid questionable ingredients, ensuring safe, fresh treats for your pets. DIY dog treat recipes can also lower the amount of packaging waste you create and have to deal with, too. What’s a side perk to homemade dog treats? You’ll probably also save money making your own simple homemade dog treats.
How to Make Homemade Dog Treats
My dogs can hear a cheese wrapper from half a mile away, and these simple homemade dog treats make them ecstatic. This recipe just requires five ingredients — in fact, you probably already have most of them in your refrigerator or pantry.
For this recipe, you’ll simply create a quick dough using gluten-free flour. Then roll it out on a silicone mat or between two sheets of wax paper. Cut the dough into squares or rectangles, or use a fun cookie cutter (maybe a dog bone-shaped cutter), place them on cookie sheets and pop them in the oven. Depending on the consistency you want, you can adjust the baking time so they are soft or hard. You may feel tempted to try them yourself — I have to admit to nibbling a few of these myself every now and then! The full recipe with detailed instructions can be found at the end of this article. Note that depending on the size of each treat, you can make roughly anywhere from about 18 very large biscuits to around 100 small treats.
Vegan Jerky Treats
Dogs love dry, chewy jerky, but it doesn’t have to be made from meat. Here’s another easy-to-make recipe your dog will love.
All you need are a few whole, raw sweet potatoes; you may want to start with one to make sure your furry friend likes these treats before you make a big batch. Scrub the skins and then slice the sweet potatoes into one-quarter inch thick slices, skin and all. Spread the slices on a cookie sheet (note that a silicone liner will prevent sticking) and bake them at the lowest setting your oven will maintain. After about an hour, turn the slices over. Continue to bake until they are dry but not brittle (they should bend rather than snap). At 250°F this will take about three hours total. If you have a dehydrator, you can use that instead of the oven.
Pretty much any fruit or veggie your dog likes can be dried to create a chewy or crunchy treat. Try slicing a banana in slices and drying that for a sweet chewy treat. One of my dogs was a green bean nut and loved them fresh, frozen or dried!
More Homemade Dog Treats
The above recipes are just two of the many homemade dog treats you can whip up in your kitchen to tickle your dog’s taste buds. To try some new combinations of your own, use the following ingredients:
- almond, cashew, and natural peanut butter; avoid brands with added oils, sweeteners (especially xylitol), or salt
- sliced almonds, cashews, and peanuts or meal (flour); avoid whole almonds, which can be a choking hazard.
- brewer’s yeast
- beans, cooked or as a flour (for example, chickpea flour)
- cheeses, except blue cheese
- coconut, dried flakes or flour
- cooked eggs
- fish; wild-caught is best
- fruits; avoid citrus peels, avocado skins, and all grapes and raisins
- healthy fats, such as coconut oil
- meats, especially organ meats; pasture-raised is best
- pumpkin (Try my recipe for Pumpkin Dog Treats!)
- quinoa (it is a seed, not a grain) cooked or flour/meal
- plain yogurt, made with whole milk
Ingredients to avoid:
- coffee, or anything with caffeine in it
- cinnamon (though a small amount can be beneficial)
- garlic (this one is on all the “harmful to dogs” lists, but some natural dog care professionals say fresh (not pre-chopped) garlic is safe and even beneficial for most adult dogs)
- macadamia nuts, walnuts and pecans
- milk and ice cream (because of the lactose content, which dogs can’t break down; cheese and yogurt, both fresh or frozen, are OK)
- raisins and grapes
We also suggest avoiding:
- flour with gluten, even whole-grain flour and grains (wheat, rye, oats, rice and corn)
- honey, sugar or any other natural sweeteners
Precautions When Making Homemade Dog Treat Recipes
Always cook treats containing eggs, meat or fish thoroughly to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Since your treats will contain no preservatives (yeah!) be sure to store them properly (the fridge or freezer is always a safe bet) to prevent problems.
And remember, these recipes are for treats, not full meals. Feeding large amounts of any new food — especially one that is high in fat — has the potential to upset Fido’s tummy, causing diarrhea or vomiting, so stick to just a couple of treats at a time when you try something new. Treats can also add up fast, calorie-wise, so you need to remember to adjust portions at mealtime to account for daily treats, to help keep Fifi from joining the 54 percent of U.S. dogs that are overweight or obese.
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