Pull on your sweatpants. Slither into that hoodie. Cue the smells of sugars and spice. It’s baking season. Baked goods and fall go together like…well, baked goods and fall. Just like the omnipresent Pumpkin Spice Latte it’s an unequivocal part of season. We all know the best Autumn traditions are shared with the ones we love. So, why not include our dogs? There are tons of vet, and canine, approved treats that you can bake at home. I don’t claim to be an expert but with the help of google, and a weekend spent binging the Great British Bake Off, I’ll give you all the skinny on homemade dog treats!
Let’s start with a quick rundown of some benefits to homemade treats. First, you are in total control of the ingredients within the treats. That means that any dog’s dietary restrictions can be accommodated. No nasty surprises when your chicken sensitive pooch gets some new goodies from the store and your partner didn’t read the container’s miniscule fine print about ‘chicken meal’. You’re the chef and can be confident about what your pet is eating.
Homemade treats make counting calories easier. It’s an unfortunate reality but our dogs are not immune to the dreaded calorie. Obesity in dogs is as prevalent as it is amongst people. A large amount of those calories come from over indulging in high calorie treats. Our clients are surprised by the number of calories contained in even the smallest dog treat. Baking a treat at home cuts out a lot of the unnecessary bi-products and preservatives in store bought foods. Why feed Fido dicalcium phosphate and “natural flavors” when he can enjoy a delightful biscuit of pumpkin and cinnamon? I rest my case. To be sure, I’m not knocking all store-bought treats. There’s a time and a place. But swapping out some of the high-calorie goods with these more natural, low-calorie options will do wonders for the overall health of your dog. Here are two examples of how easy, and satisfying, home made dog treats can be!
No-Fail Peanut Butter Lover:
2 cups flour
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup warm water
These are by far a standard of doggy treats. I broke off a piece and tried it myself. Not bad! The approach is simple. Combine all your dry ingredients (including the peanut butter) in a large bowl. Slowly add one TBSP of water at a time until the dough is firm enough to roll out. Use your preferred biscuit cutter to punch out the treats and arrange on a baking tray to cook for 20 minutes at a pre-heated oven set to 350 F. That’s it. Let them cool and either treat your dog with a whole biscuit or break apart the cookies into smaller bites for a longer lasting treat.
A Cheesy Crowd Pleaser:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter-softened
1/3 cup milk
My sister’s dog ate these like they were the equivalent of Domino’s cheesy bread. A cheese stick probably falls under our above-mentioned category of treats to give sparingly. Mix the cheese and flour together first then add the softened butter. Gradually add the milk till the dough is slightly wet. Knead that dough like its bread week and Paul Hollywood’s hovering over your shoulder. That handshake can be yours! Roll the dough out flat and cut some rectangles. Bake the lot for 15 minutes at 350 F. Cool before serving.
Some of you may be thinking, “That’s swell and all, but my dog keeps me up all night if they even inhale a particle of anything that isn’t their ultra-sensitive GI prescription food.” I’ve been there but there is a baking solution for your problem! Most standard prescription diets have canned food options. Purchase a ‘pate’ version of your dog’s prescription food, cut some thin round biscuits and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350. It may not be as holly-jolly as the other recipes but it’s a great alternative for our food sensitive patients.
Regardless of what route you go down keep in mind that not all human food is tolerated by dogs. Resist the urge to give your dog any scraps of your own baked goods. If you opt to bake for your pet google some dog specific recipes like the ones above. Off you go, Star Baker. And please – email us any and all photos of your pet chowing down on your homemade creations!