Let’s face it, the commercial treats might be appealing and probably more aligned with your dog’s palette, but they are not exactly the healthiest of options. Very few people know, or realize the importance of knowing, how to make homemade dog treats for several justifiable reasons:
- You can’t buy them directly off the shelf
- Cooking is not exactly fun most of the time
- There is a lot of trial and error until you get it right
- There is no guarantee that your dog will like them
This is mainly why fewer and fewer people are inclined to put in a little effort and make a batch of healthy treats for their dogs.
Just by reading the label you can see how many chemical additives have been added, a lot of vague information which leaves you guessing most of the time, and on top of all that, you can actually see that it is made out of leftovers and parts of other animals that are considered low quality or downright uneatable.
These are not exactly healthy for the poor animal and let’s face it your loyal best friend deserves the best you can offer.
A long time ago, before the commercial dog treats hit the shelves, people used to bake treats for their dogs, rewarding them when they would learn new things or as an incentive to obey.
This brought dogs and dog owners a lot closer to each other because the dog would feel the extra care and love that was put into the treats, and the owner would smile knowing that it put the effort in and gave his or her dog something that was both healthy and properly made.
A Word of Caution Regarding Dog Treats
Dogs, just like us, can be allergic to different things, and they can have allergic reactions to some of the ingredients that these treats might contain.
When reading and following healthy dog treat recipes, make sure to single out and replace ingredients that you know your dog does not react well to. If you are unaware of any allergies that your dog might have, and you are trying out a new recipe with a bunch of ingredients your dog most likely has never tasted or ingested before, exercise caution and bake the treats in small quantities. That way if your dog has an allergic reaction it would be a lot less intense and a lot more manageable.
Another thing worth mentioning here is the fact that dogs don’t mix very well with spices, seasonings, condiments and various other things that we are used to adding into our foods. So try and steer clear of adding these things, regardless of how much you want to add your own personal touch to it.
Another thing to keep in mind is to never feed treats too often, as they should not be a substitute for a meal. Even though they’re healthy, giving your dog too many can result in some health problems. So why not continue wearing the apron and learn how to make your own doggy toothpaste?
That being said let us look at a few of the most popular dog treat recipes.
1. Dog Biscuits
These are actually the basic biscuits that have been around for quite some time now. It’s difficult to fail with this recipe and a lot of dogs enjoy these treats as this recipe is one of the easiest healthy dog treats you can bake and it does not take as much time or as much effort as other recipes do.
Here is what you will need:
- 5 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1 tea spoon of salt or less
- 1 egg
- chicken Bouillon granules – 1 teaspoon
- Half a cup of hot water
Optionally, you can add in:
- Bacon broth
- Liver powder
- Bacon bits
- Chicken broth
After you gathered your ingredients preheat the oven at 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, dissolve the Bouillon granules in hot water and add the remaining ingredients to it.
The end result should look more or less like cookie dough, with the same consistency. Take that dough and knead it for about 3 minutes until you get the shape of a nice round ball. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough until it is about 0.5 inches thick. After this step is done, cut the dough into various shapes and sizes.
Most dog owners stick with the traditional bone shape however some people go for disk shapes with a small paw indented in it, either way there are endless possibilities there. After you are done cutting and shaping, place the dough pieces on a greased cookie sheet and put it in the oven for around 30 minutes.
Something important to note when it comes to these dog biscuits is the fact that the recipe is very flexible. You can switch certain flavors round and try different things until you find something that your dog likes to chew on.
Another thing to mention here is that you can take out the biscuits in less than 30 minutes for a more chewy consistency rather than crunchy, if you find that your dog prefers it that way.
2. Doggy Trail Mix
Yes, there is such a thing as a trail mix for dogs, and it is quite cheap and easy to prepare. Again, remember that there may be ingredients that may cause allergic reactions in your dog as well as those that your dog is slightly intolerant of. The last thing you want to see in your dog after giving him or her treats is an upset stomach.
Again, this is one of the simpler healthy dog treat recipes out there and it should post no problem at all when preparing it for your dog.
Here is what you will need: pieces of meat, potatoes, vegetables, and pieces of fruit.
Some quick indications for when picking the ingredients:
- Make sure the meat is not seasoned or spicy. If that is the case, rinse the meat thoroughly until any trace of seasoning or spice is gone.
- Make sure there are no onions or any garlic added to the mix. These might upset your dog’s stomach and give him or her stomach burns.
- Make sure that you do not put any grapes or raisins into the mix. Your dog’s digestive system is not built to cope with them and the end result tends to be rather unpleasant.
The first thing you have to do is start preheating the oven to 200 degrees. Most dog owners recommend using a dehydrator for this however an oven preheated to 200 degrees works just as well.
Mix the ingredients together and cut them into pieces that are 0.5 inches thick. If you have a small dog you can cut them slightly thinner. After the cutting is done with, spray the pieces with a very thin coating of cooking spray. You are aiming to dry them up not properly bake them so the coating of cooking spray must be very thin. The next step is to place the pieces into the oven or dehydrator until they have dried up.
3. Bacon Flavored Biscuits
Don’t worry, this nifty doggie treat is not unhealthy nor full of fat. The secret and most important ingredient in this recipe is a very small amount of bacon fat which is both harmless and very appealing to dogs. This is why this recipe is one of the best and healthiest dog treat recipes out there.
This is a rather easy to make recipe and the result is a treat that is guaranteed to have your dog’s tail wagging when you take it out of the doggie bag.
A small word of caution, this recipe involves wheat germs and whole wheat flour. If you know your dog is particularly sensitive to wheat products or allergic to them you might want to consider changing these ingredients with something similar.
Before proceeding, keep in mind that this recipe is for a batch of 24 treats, so expect a rather generous turnout for this recipe.
Here is the list of ingredients that you will need:
- 5 cups of whole wheat flour
- 5 cups of wheat germ
- 5 cups of melted bacon fat
- 1 egg
- 5 cups of cold water
Baking the treats is easy: first off you will have to preheat the oven at about 350 degrees. After this step is done, mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl until you get a nice batch of dough. If the dough happens to be too stiff just add more water or bacon fat, and if it is too sticky add a pinch of flour and mix around properly.
After the dough is brought to the desired consistency, roll it on a flour coated surface until it’s about 0.5 inches thick then proceed to cutting small 1×4 inch bars and immediately transfer them on a cookie sheet.
In order to bake the bars properly and make sure they are evenly heated, you should poke divots into them. After that is all said and done with, bake the bars in the preheated oven until they turn golden brown. Once the bars reach the desired color, just take them out, flip them on the other side and put them back in. This way they can bake on the other side as well.
Something rather important to note is that after the bars are cooked let them to cool and only after that store them into an airtight container. The reason for this procedure is the fact that the inside of the container will condense and cause the bars to become moist and soggy.
4. Peanut Butter and Banana Treats
Out of all the healthy dog treat recipes out there this one is probably the most interesting one. Truth be told, not many dogs in this world like to eat bananas. Still bananas are actually good for their health and it will provide a nice dose of needed vitamins.
The trick is to get the dog to eat the bananas, which is a challenge in of itself, so you can become a bit creative and sneaky at the same time and simply slip bits and pieces of bananas in the dog’s treats.
Before moving on, however, make sure that none of the ingredients will cause your dog a negative reaction. Allergies are always something to be on the lookout for, and if your dog has a history with allergies or is simply having trouble tolerating certain ingredients then you might have to become a bit creative with the recipe and substitute some of the ingredients.
Another thing to note is the fact that dogs, just like us, tend to develop spontaneous allergies when eating something for the first time. This recipe contains bananas, something that many dogs never eat during their entire life, so you should play it safe and feed your dog a very small piece at first. This way you make sure your pooch does not develop an allergic reaction before proceeding with this recipe.
That being said, in order to bake these treats, you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 peeled banana
- 1 cup of oat flour
- 2 thirds of a cup of rolled oats
- 5 cups of dried parsley
- 3 table spoons of peanut butter
- 1 beaten egg
The baking process is not complicated at all; just follow the steps bellow and you should be ready to start. First mash the banana into a large bowl, and make sure you don’t miss any bits because they might interfere with the composition and the structure of the treat while in the oven.
After the banana is nice and mashed, add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until the mixture homogenizes and set it aside for 5 minutes. You are looking for the mixture to set and leaving it aside for a few minutes is just the thing that it needs.
After the mixture has set, grab a tablespoon and scoop out 24 balls of dough and place them in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Before putting these balls in the oven, you have to flatten them and give them a shape. Your dog will find it incredibly annoying to chew them when they are in ball form, so use the back of the table spoon or your hand to give the balls a shape that is roughly 1.5 inches thick.
Most people shape them into coins because it’s easier, while some turn them into bones, bars or even little paws.
After all that is said and done, put the sheet in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes. Make sure to check on the treats and as soon as one side turns golden brown, flip them over and let the underside cook.
Ideally you would be looking to get both sides golden brown before taking them out and serving them to your pet.
5. Minty Buckwheat Treats
This one is a bit more complicated to pull off than other healthy dog treat recipes, however it can still be put together and served to your best friends as a nice heartwarming and at the same time breath freshening treat.
Before continuing with this recipe, there are some things that you should keep in mind.
First off, this treat requires no meat or meat flavors whatsoever. That being said if you have a dog that loves meat more than anything else you might have a harder time getting him or her to eat these treats.
Second, it involves mint, something that housedogs don’t really eat on a daily basis. That being said there is always the risk of an allergic reaction or intolerance on your dog’s side. So for the good of the dog try and feed him or her small pieces of mint and see what the reactions are.
That being said, here is the list of ingredients that you will need in order to bake these wonderful treats:
- 5 cups of buckwheat flour
- 4 table spoons of fresh parsley (make sure it is finely chopped before proceeding)
- 2 table spoons of fresh mint
- 1 table spoon of honey
- 2 table spoons of olive oil
- 1 beaten egg
- 1-3 table spoons of water
Don’t worry about the olive oil, the vast majority of dogs can easily process it without any allergic or intolerant reactions.
The first thing you have to do is to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. These treats will require quite a bit of cooking so a high temperature is a must. Next grab a large bowl and combine mint leaves, parsley and flour. Stir them together until you obtain a homogenized mixture and set them aside for a couple of minutes.
Grab a small bowl next and combine the olive oil and honey. Again stir and whisk them together until you get a homogenized mixture. It is important that the honey and the olive oil are mixed together properly.
After that is all said and done with, pour the olive oil and honey mixture in the bowl with the flour and stir together. Add the egg in afterwards and keep stirring until the mix is homogenized and uniform.
The resulting dough needs to be kneaded thoroughly in order to mix the ingredients together, and when you are satisfied with the consistency of the dough proceed to rolling it with a rolling pin. The dough should be rolled to about a quarter of an inch in thickness.
After it is rolled down you can begin cutting the treats in the desired shapes. Most people go for the standard dog bone shape but you can mix it up and cut it into bars, coins or even roll them up and cut them into small logs.
An important thing to remember is to poke divots into the dough before you put the treats in the oven. The dough has a slightly darker color so it is not as easy to tell when it bakes evenly and when it does not so in order to avoid undercooked treats simply take a minute to poke a few divots into the treats.
After you have the desired shapes, put the treats on a non-stick cookie sheet and place it in the over allowing it to bake for a solid 15 minutes.
The great thing about these particular treats is the fact that it acts for dogs exactly the way small mints act for us. Besides the treat aspect, it also cleanses the dog’s mouth, getting rid of the signature “doggie breath” in the process. It is also a much healthier alternative to store bought treats and chemical ridden mouth cleansing commercial solutions.
There are indeed a lot more recipes out there with a lot of variations added to them. It suffices to say that you will not grow bored and the pool ideas will not grow stale when it comes to homemade dog treats. So you can try out even more recipes in our other article about making dog biscuits.
It is a lot easier to control the substances and proportions that go into these treats when you make them yourself and it goes without saying that they are a much healthier alternative to the commercial dog treats on the market.
By taking the time and putting in that extra little bit of effort you are not only doing your dog a favor by keeping him or her healthy, but doing yourself a favor knowing that you went that extra mile for the animal that will always go above the call of duty when you need him or her to do so.
All the recipes are flexible, they can easily be adapted to suit your dog’s tastes and preferences, and with enough time your dog will grow to love these treats a lot more than the attractive chemically enhanced commercial ones, and generally be a lot healthier and happier in the process.
But why stop at just dog treats? You can even make meals for your dog, which you can discover in our great article on making homemade dog food.