More and more people are turning to healthy and natural treats for their dogs which means many people are looking for ways to make their own dog treats. You can have the best of both worlds with homemade treats, you can chose what you do and don’t add to them and you can also keep the cost of dog treats down when compared to shop bought products.
It is a common misconception that making your own dog treats or even dog food is difficult and labour intensive and so people will either pay high prices to others who make homemade and natural dog treats or they simply defer to whatever else is available at their local store. However, because dog treats can contain so many different ingredients, making homemade treats is easier and less hassle than you might think.
Lucky for us, most dogs are happy to eat whatever we give them, but as we are aiming to make natural and healthy ‘treats’, the idea is that your dog will keep coming back for more and the homemade treat will be a tasty alternative that will not put your dog off.
Vegetables and plain meats such as chicken and turkey make great bases for treats, and many dogs would be happy for you to just cook these and feed them, but there is so much more you can do to chicken and simple vegetables to keep your dog even more interested and remember to keep an eye out for those foods and ingredients that can be harmful for dogs to eat.
Sweet Potato Treats
This is one of the simplest treats to make and your dog will love the crisp, chewy texture and sweet, fragrant flavour of the cooked sweet potato. Simply peel 1 or 2 sweet potato’s and slice them into thin strips. Pre-heat an oven to 240 degrees and lightly coat both sides of each slice with a little olive oil. Place in the oven until they are golden brown and the edges begin to turn in slightly.
These treats will keep for 2-3 weeks if stored in the fridge or in an air tight container and your dog will absolutely love them. Do not give more than 2 pieces a day as it can cause upset stomach in some breeds and always try new foods in smaller portions first to ensure your dog can tolerate it.
This treat will be a favourite with all dogs (and even us owners can sneak one when the dog isn’t looking!) All you need is some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a small amount of olive oil (you can add a little sage or rosemary for extra flavour if desired). The recipe is very similar to the sweet potato treats above, simply slice the chicken into strips about 1/4 inch thick and coat both sides with a little olive oil. The trick to making the jerky is to dehydrate the meat, which can be done in the oven. Set the oven heat to approx 200 degrees and allow it to heat up to the full temperature before placing the chicken strips on a baking sheet on a tray and placing them in the oven. The length of the cooking time will depend on how thin your slices are, but will be approx 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Once crisp and brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Again these chicken jerky strips will keep if refrigerated or kept in an air tight container.
Peanut Butter Treats
Just like us humans, dogs are partial to the occasional sweet treat and one of their favourite ingredients is peanut butter. Making peanut butter cookies that your dog can enjoy means cutting back on the sugar whilst keeping the taste level high, and peanut butter is the best ingredient for doing this. All you need are a few simple ingredients:-
- 3 cups of white or whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup of oatmeal (uncooked)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup low fat milk
Pre-heat the oven to 360 degrees and combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the remaining liquid ingredients together and add gradually to the dry mix until it forms a dough; if the dough is too dry then add a little more warm water. Use a rolling pin and roll the dough to approx 1/4 inch thick and use a cookie cutter to shape your doggy cookies (your dog may appreciate a bone shape, but honestly they will gobble them down whatever shape they are.)
Leave them in the over for approx 30 minutes, checking them ever few minutes once you reach 20 mins, removing them when they are brown on top. Leave the cookies to cool and store as you would usual biscuits or cake.
We know that so many dog owners bake their own treats for their dogs in a bid to make the food that their four legged friends eat healthy and natural. It is almost commonplace today for manufacturers to add chemicals and additives to human and pet foods in order to cut down on costs and increase storage and preservation periods, but this all comes at a price. The unnatural substances added to may dog treats can be responsible for some of the ill health that our dogs suffer and can lead to poor digestion and even chemical imbalances in the body. The more natural the food you give to your dog, the healthier your dog will be. They will have more energy and better digestions and will be able to enjoy life to the fullest, which means that you get to enjoy your dog to the fullest as well.
We would really like to hear from anyone who makes their own dog treats or dog food and to hear other natural, homemade recipe suggestions. Please leave your comments below so that our readers and The Dog Express team can try out your recipes and suggestions.