Healthy dog treats to make at home

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

By Emily Wilder
For The Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — Cooking is an act of love. Friends and family, co-workers and neighbors have dined at my table. Spending time preparing the nourishment that will be the complement to their conversation and accent to their evening is both coveted pleasure and welcomed responsibility for the cook.
Accepting this responsibility and reward is not unlike the role a dog owner must take. I am responsible for my pet’s well-being, and in turn, she provides enjoyment and unconditional love.
That, plus lots of fur balls and muddy paw prints!
Last weekend, I decided it was time to let Callie dine at my figurative table by extending the cooking love to her doggie treats. Sure, I could walk down the aisle of any grocery or pet store and choose a drool-inducing puppy snack, but I have come to equate that with driving through a fast food lane to buy my own dinner. Although convenient, it’s not particularly healthy and the cost can add up quickly.
With a few simple, staple ingredients, your pooch can snack in style. Talk with your vet first if you have concerns about diet choices, but some of the best treats you can feed your dog are the same good treats humans should eat!
Crunchy carrots or broccoli stalks, steamed green beans or zucchini, and frozen blueberries all make excellent snacks in place of fatty, preservative-laden store-bought products.
Just like many packaged human food items, quality is often sacrificed for production cost and shelf life. Cooking for your dog is the best way to know exactly what your furry member of the family is eating. After all, one of the food principles I live by is reading labels on the prepared foods I do bring into my kitchen. What better way to show my love for the one who licks my face than by allowing her the benefits I find in eating home-cooked, whole, fresh foods? Making treats for your pet is also a great way to bond with your dog.
PetSmart carries a line of Martha Stewart products including a set of dog-bone shaped biscuit cutters so the whole family can participate in the fun!
Tricks of the Treat
Keep in mind, these recipes are for treats, not in place of your dog’s regular food, and should be consumed in moderation. It is also important to know which ingredients are not suited to your canine best friend. Onions and garlic should be avoided, as well as starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, in large quantity. Avocado, mushrooms, and tomatoes are also best left out of these recipes. Other ingredients such as chocolate, coffee/tea, grapes/raisins, artificial sweeteners, and some nuts are on the toxic list, too. Be sure processed items you include (such as cheese, peanut butter, broth, etc.) only have real food ingredients. For example, peanut butter should just have one: peanuts!
Callie thoroughly enjoyed being a taste tester for this cooking experiment.
If you are interested in more recipes for your dog, check out “Better Food for Dogs: A Complete Cookbook and Nutrition Guide,” by David Bastin, Jennifer Ashton, and Dr. Grant Nixon, D.V.M., available at the Rowan Public Library. I adapted the first two recipes from their publication.
Banana Pupcakes
2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. mashed banana
1 large egg 1/4 C. water
1 Tbs. canola oil
Combine banana, egg, water, oil; add to flour. Mix until smooth and dough forms. On a floured surface, roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Poke several holes all over the dough with a fork to prevent it from puffing. Using cookie cutter or a sharp knife cut into bite-size pieces and transfer to baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until firm, remove and let cool. Reduce oven to 300 degrees and bake for about 20-30 more minutes until hard and crunchy; cool completely before serving.
Peanut Butter Paws
2/3 C. water
1/2 C. smooth, all-natural
peanut butter
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
Whisk together water, peanut butter, and egg. Stir in flour until mixed, knead well. Transfer dough to a floured surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Poke several holes all over the dough with a fork to prevent it from puffing. Using a cookie cutter or a sharp knife, cut into bite-size pieces and transfer to baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-22 minutes until crunchy. Cool completely before serving.
• • •
Blueberry Buddy Balls
1/4 C. blueberries
1 small banana
1/3 C. water
1/2 C. oats (old fashioned
or quick-cook)
1 C. whole wheat flour
Combine water, banana, and blueberries in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in flour and oats. Drop into 1/2-1-inch rounded balls on cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned.
Hal’s Cheese Snacks
— from
2 C. whole wheat flour
1/4 C. cornmeal
1/2 C. Parmesan cheese
1 egg
3/4 C. water
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients except 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Knead until thoroughly mixed. Roll dough into quarter-sized balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll balls into pencil-shaped “sticks” in Parmesan so the sticks are coated. Flatten with rolling pin or by hand. Twist each about 6 to 8 times and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake approximately 30 minutes. Cool and store in sealed container.
• • •
Tuna Tasties— adapted from
1 C. yellow cornmeal
1 C. oatmeal
1 small can tuna in oil
1/3 C. water
Combine tuna and water in food processor and puree. Gradually add in oatmeal and cornmeal and pulse until mixture is firm. Knead on a floured surface into a ball, and roll out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet, at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.
• • •
And a favorite from our dog-house, especially in summer:
Callie’s Like-able Licks
1 can low sodium chicken
or beef broth
ice cube trays
Mix equal parts water and broth and freeze into ice cube trays for a treat sure to beat the summer heat.
Option: drop a few frozen blueberries or green beans in the cubes before freezing.