There are many benefits to making your own dog treats. Most importantly, you are in control of exactly what goes into the treat and can feel confident that there are no hidden ingredients, preservatives, chemicals or additives. Unfortunately because store bought treats may sit on the shelf for weeks or months some preservative and additives are necessary to keep them viable. Besides being healthier for your pet, homemade treats will also be easier on your pocket. You can experiment with different ingredients to see which ones your dog prefers but always research to see which ingredients are not healthy for your dog. We know that the healthier we eat the better we feel and the same is true for your furry friend.
Our pets are entirely dependent on us for their food and we should try and provide the best possible food for them that is affordable to us but we can boost their nutritional intake by providing healthy treats. Homemade treats can contain the most natural and freshest ingredients which in turn will aid your dog’s digestive system and contribute to healthier teeth, gums, skin, fur and even their hearts.
There are certain foods to avoid at all costs as they are toxic to our dogs. Some of which are chocolate, especially dark chocolate as it can cause kidney failure, anything in the onion family, garlic, lemons and limes, macadamia nuts, avocado, caffeine, alcohol, grapes and raisins. Another “treat” to avoid at all costs is a cooked bone and the reason for this is because they can splinter into shards when chewed and cause choking, severe damage to their mouth, throat and intestines which can be deadly.
Before making your own health treats, if you are unsure about an ingredient it is best to speak to your vet. There are plenty of natural ingredients with which to make treats and some ideas are listed below:
Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Treats: Peanut butter is one of the healthiest ingredients for a treat. Mix 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter, and 1/2 cup of hot water. Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to shape the treats. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.
Sweet Potato Treats: Bake or microwave a sweet potato until soft. Scoop out the flesh and mash it with 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1/4 cup of almond butter, and 1 egg. Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to shape the treats. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.
Apple and Carrot Treats: Mix 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of grated apple, 1/2 cup of grated carrot, and 1/2 cup of hot water. Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to shape the treats. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.
Chicken Jerky: Slice boneless chicken breasts into thin strips and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200°F for 2-3 hours, until the strips are dry and crispy.
Remember to consult with your veterinarian about your dog's dietary needs and any allergies they may have before trying out any new recipes. Store homemade dog treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for maximum freshness.
It is important not overfeed your dog treats – it is easy to do but remember you are in control of what they eat and their health is in your hands. A treat is a reward for good behaviour and should only be given to them when they are calm. You may also give them a treat perhaps once a day when they have finished their food. Treats are an excellent way of training your dog and should be used with a specific word such as “sit”, “stay” or “wait” but, once they have learned the behaviour, treats should no longer be given every time they carry out that behaviour. Never give a treat to a dog that is misbehaving or it defeats the whole purpose of obedience training. Just like us, dogs will more than likely prefer the treat to his normal food and be less likely to eat their staple diet if they are getting too many treats and there is a possibility of unhealthy weight gain.
Have fun making the treats and developing a closer bond with your dog.