Homemade Dog Treats are easy to make and will delight your furry friends–with ingredients you approve of!
Many years ago, when my then-two-year-old son was recovering from a tonsillectomy, our dog Angus got sick. Really sick.
I vividly remember walking my older son to the bus stop one cold winter morning. My husband had just left for an extended business trip, my house smelled like a very ill dog, and my younger son—who refused to eat, drink, or sleep–was flopped over my shoulder. I couldn’t leave him alone, and my older son was too young to stand at the bus stop unattended. I literally burst into tears at the sight of my friend Judy.
She immediately asked if there were complications from the surgery and if there was anything she could do. I managed a little laugh and said that I thought I had everything under control—until the dog got sick. That curveball tested my limits.
Angus, our beloved springer spaniel, was on and off IV fluids for several days and for many weeks I fed him a vet-recommended diet of rice and boiled meat. When a friend shared her timesaving trick of mixing jarred baby food beef into the cooked rice, it was a breath of fresh air. As I played nurse to son and dog, any timesaving shortcut was a welcome lifeline.
That was the first time I cooked specifically for Angus. We had always stuck to dog food and a few safe treats, as the occasional scraps from our plates never sat well. So later, when I decided to bake homemade dog bones, I did some research as to the ingredients that are generally considered safe for our furry friends.
Some dogs develop skin issues from wheat, so these wholesome bones rely on rice flour. A whole can of pumpkin (I sometimes use canned sweet potato as an alternative) supplies fiber and beta-carotene, and protein-rich eggs are an easily digestible source of riboflavin and selenium. Though your dog will likely want more than one or two of these treats at a time, portion control is always advisable.
Every pet is different, but Angus tolerates these treats quite well and gets incredibly excited when he sees or smells one. If you’re the kind of cook who appreciates positive feedback from those who benefit from your time in the kitchen (who doesn’t?), these homemade treats will likely accomplish that!
An important note: Dogs tend to adore peanut butter and can smell it a mile away. Most dogs tolerate peanut butter, and it’s a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin B, niacin, and vitamin E. It is critical, however, to avoid any peanut butter that contains xylitol. Some manufacturers have started using this product because its level of sweetness is similar to sucrose, but with approximately one-third less calories. According to VCA Hospitals xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. I use Jif for these treats, but always check your label because ingredients may change over time.
People foods that your pets shouldn’t eat:
- Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
- Coconut and Coconut Oil
- Grapes and Raisins
- Macadamia Nuts
- Milk and Dairy
- Nuts (peanuts are a legume but see note about xylitol)
- Onions, Garlic and Chives
- Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
- Salt and Salty Snack Foods
- Xylitol (check peanut butter labels as it is sometimes used in place of sugar)
- Yeast Dough
For more information as to why these foods are harmful, use this link: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets. (Source: ASPCA; following recipe adapted from Betty Crocker)
There is also literature that puts bacon, shrimp, pomegranate, peaches, plums, sugary foods, and people medicine in the off-limits-for-your-pet box.