Finding a Tasty, Healthy Treat for Your Dog


There's a great old commercial for a dog treat where all you see is the dog's nose moving rapidly toward the kitchen. "It's bacon!" he cries when he reaches the treat but, of course, it isn't really - it's some artificial form of it. We feed our dogs healthy dog food and we mustn't forget to also provide healthy treats. With treats, we have an advantage over our dogs - we can trick them into thinking the treat they are getting is the best treat in the world. This doesn't stop them from standing underfoot while you munch on a piece of pie or fry up the bacon. But with the tasty homemade treats available today, from the store or from your kitchen, your dog is sure to be tempted.

Buying Healthy Treats

There are many different types of healthy dog goodies out there on the market and many of them are homemade dog treats. These treats should be free of preservatives and additives and contain natural or organic ingredients. Avoid potentially toxic ingredients such as garlic. Look for treats that have few fillers and a high antioxidant and vitamin content. And remember that homemade dog treats have a shorter shelf-life. Homemade treats are available at pet boutiques and online at sites such as doggiebistro.com and threedogbakery.com.

Making Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

Making your own treats is fun and saves money. There are many healthy dog treat recipes out there. Below are some sample recipes. For the baked treats, use only as much liquid as is needed to form a firm, most dough.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter

Mix together and flatten small balls in your hand. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Chicken Broth Cookies

  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast 
+ 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix together then roll out on a floured surface. Cut with a cookie cutter (a bone-shaped one is nice) and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Beef Jerky

Choose a very lean cut of beef such as eye of round. Slice into long pieces of about 1/8 inch thick. Preheat your oven to the lowest possible setting. Place strips on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Leave oven door slightly cracked to let moisture escape. Check in about six hours. Meat should not snap but should break fairly easily. 


Make Your Own Tasty Recipes

You can also conjure up your own healthy dog treat recipes. For baked treats, the basic rule is two cups dry ingredients to one cup wet ingredients. Generally, biscuits are baked at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. To devise tasty recipes, pick from the ingredients below:

  • Chicken Broth
  • Beef Broth
  • Oatmeal
  • Baby Food
  • Egg
  • Cornmeal
  • Flour
  • Brewers Yeast
  • Parmesan Cheese (a little goes a long way)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Molasses (a little goes a long way)
  • Canned Tuna
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Ginger
  • Oregano

See our Home Prepared Food & Recipes forum for more ideas and discussion.

Special Needs Treats

We all know dogs who could stand to lose a few pounds. There are also dogs who have a gluten intolerance, allergies to certain foods, or an illness that limits their diet. There are still treats they can enjoy:

Going Gluten-Free: Jerky works well, as do treats made with a protein, such as peanut butter and rice.

Really Low-Cal Treats: Most homemade dog treats are naturally low-calorie and low in fat. Another option is to look in your fridge for treats such as carrots, celery, green beans, apples and blueberries.

Allergies and Illnesses: Consult your vet if you think your dog might have a food allergy. She can run tests to determine what it might be. Likewise, consult your vet if your dog has an illness or is taking any medication. It may be necessary to avoid some foods or to make a change in diet altogether.

Tempt The Taste Buds

The best way to tempt a dog to try your new healthy dog treats recipes is to ham it up. Pretend to eat the treat (or go ahead and eat it - these homemade dog treats are good) and smack your lips. He'll woof it down when you "give in." Soon your dog will be looking for homemade dog treats and the bacon will be left frying in the pan.

Photo: Reenie

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