Are you looking for ways to show your dog how much he means to you? One of the greatest gifts we can give our furry friends is taking care of their health and well-being, providing them with proper nutrition, health care, exercise, and love, and helping them lead happy and healthy lives.
There’s no question you want to give your furry friend the best of everything, including treats (Hunter’s preferred love language), but with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to try and find the best recipes for your dog. Making homemade dog treats can be a great way to ensure your dog is getting the best nutrition while also providing a fun and enjoyable activity for both you and your furry companion. In this blog post, we’ll explore the many ways in which you can make wholesome, quality homemade goodies for your pup that are easy as well as delicious.
1. Start with a healthy ingredient base.
Starting with a healthy base of lean meats, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables is an important step in ensuring that your homemade dog treats are both delicious and nutritious. That’s because these ingredients provide a range of essential nutrients that are vital for maintaining overall health.
Lean meats, for example, provide high-quality protein, which is necessary for building, maintaining, and repairing tissues in the body, as well as maintaining a healthy immune system. They also contain other beneficial nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Consider bringing in beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and pork, all of which can be fed cooked or raw, and avoiding excess fat intake by choosing lean cuts.
Additionally, some types of fish (think salmon and whitefish) can be included as part of a healthy diet, but be mindful of the amount of fish that is fed since it can be high in mercury and other contaminants.
Whole grains, such as brown rice and oats, are a good source of complex carbohydrates that help to provide sustained energy and support optimal body weight. Like lean meats, these grains also contain key vitamins and minerals and pack a punch of dietary fiber.
Similarly, fresh vegetables and fruit boast a richness of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which work together to promote a strong immune system, protect against disease, and maintain overall health. Much like whole grains, they too provide dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion. While vegetables and fruit can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet, they should not make up a large portion of it since dogs require a higher protein intake than humans.
Some examples of vegetables that are safe for dogs to eat include leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts; sweet potatoes; carrots; pumpkin, zucchini, and squash. While these are all safe, it’s a good idea to introduce them to your dog gradually and in small amounts to allow his digestive system to adjust.
Fruits that are safe for dogs to eat include apples, bananas, blueberries, oranges, pineapple, cantaloupe, and strawberries. As with vegetables, introduce fruit gradually and in small amounts.
Incorporating these types of ingredients can help to reduce the risk of your dog developing certain health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; however, It’s worth mentioning that not all dogs have the same nutritional needs. When in doubt, consult with a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount of protein, vegetables, and fruit to include in your dog’s diet.
2. Spice it up!
Adding spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger to your dog’s treats can be both flavorful and beneficial. These spices are not only tasty, but they also offer a variety of health benefits for your furry friend. For example, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation, supports joint health, and improves digestion. Cinnamon is a natural breath freshener and assists in the regulation of blood sugar levels while ginger has been shown to help with nausea and improve overall circulation.
When selecting spices to add to your dog’s treats, source pure, high-quality options that are free from additives or preservatives, which can be harmful to your dog’s health. Additionally, be sure to check with your veterinarian before adding any new spices to your dog’s diet; some spices may not be suitable for all dogs depending on their individual health needs and sensitivities.
3. Remember, quality is key.
Using high-quality ingredients is crucial for ensuring your dog’s health and well-being when making homemade treats. Dogs, like humans, require a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients in order to maintain optimal health. This includes not only the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, but also a range of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.
When you use high-quality ingredients, you can be sure that your furry friend is getting the nourishment he needs to thrive. This can help to support his immune system, promote healthy digestion, and maintain their overall well-being.
On the other hand, using low-quality ingredients or those that are contaminated or spoiled can lead to a range of health problems, including digestive issues, nutrient deficiencies, and even serious illness. To ensure that your homemade dog treats are healthy and nutritious, be sure to use only the best ingredients you can find.
4. Bake treats in the oven or use a dehydrator.
Baking treats in the oven or using a dehydrator can be a great way to create a healthy and homemade snack for your dog. Baking treats in the oven is a simple process that requires minimal prep work, and it allows you to create a wide range of tasty treats using whole, natural ingredients, which can be particularly useful if he has food allergies or sensitivities.
Dehydrators work by removing moisture from foods, which preserves their nutrients and extends their shelf life. Dehydrated treats are easy to store and transport, making them a convenient option for busy dog owners.
5. Break the mold and get creative with cookie cutters.
Using unique cookie cutters and molds can add a personal touch to homemade dog treats, making them extra special. These tools can create a variety of different shapes and sizes of treats, an added perk for new training treats, or simply for giving your dog some variety. In addition, cookie cutters and molds help to ensure that the treats are a consistent size and shape, an important consideration in terms of portion control and ensuring that the treats are easy for your dog to eat.
There are several places where dog owners can find cookie cutters to make their own dog treats. Many pet stores carry a selection of cookie cutters specifically designed for making dog treats. These can often be found in the pet bakery section or in the toy and treat aisle. (You can also check online retailers like Amazon, Petco, and Chewy for convenient direct-to-your-doorstep delivery.)
Craft stores such as Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabric stores as well as specialty kitchen stores that specialize in baking supplies may carry a selection of cookie cutters, including some that are suitable for making dog treats.
6. Store treats in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
Storing your homemade baked dog treats in an airtight container is key to keeping them fresh. When treats are exposed to air, they can become dry, stale, and less appealing to your furry friend. An airtight container helps to seal in moisture, which can keep the treats soft and moist for longer periods of time. This is especially important if you’ve made a large batch of treats and don’t plan on using them all right away.
I’m digging this Frisco Stainless Steel Storage Canister and its Modern Gold Rim Ceramic Treat Jar, but for something truly unique, this personalized ceramic dog treat jar from Rtsy Designs that features a custom hand-drawn image of up to five of your very own dogs is absolutely gorgeous!
7. Consider your dog’s individual needs.
Not all treats are created equal and you should consider your dog’s individual needs, size, and preferences when choosing a treat recipe to try. Every dog is unique, and what may be a healthy and appropriate treat for one dog may not be suitable for another. For example, a small toy breed may have different nutrient requirements and caloric needs than a large breed and may not be able to handle certain ingredients, flavors, or textures. Some dogs may have food allergies or sensitivities that need to be taken into account. By taking the time to consider your dog as an individual, you can choose a treat recipe that is tailored perfectly to him and one that will be both tasty and nutritious.
8. Reward in moderation.
As difficult as it may be to resist those puppy eyes staring up at the treat jar or that baking tray of fresh, mouthwatering snacks, serve treats to your dog in moderation, even when they are healthy treats. While homemade treats can be a nutritious and feel-good addition to your dog’s diet, keep in mind that they are still treats and should not be fed as a meal replacement. Overfeeding your dog treats can lead to weight gain and health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and joint issues.
Feeding your dog too many treats can cause him to become overly reliant on treats as a source of nutrition, which can lead to a nutrient imbalance in his diet. To ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy, it’s important to feed him a balanced diet that includes a mix of high-quality proteins, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables, as mentioned above. Treats can be a delicious and rewarding way to bond with your furry friend, but should only be introduced in moderation as part of a well-rounded diet.
9. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian.
Before trying any new treat recipes, consult with your veterinarian as she can provide guidance on any ingredients that may not be suitable for your dog’s specific needs or dietary restrictions. Your veterinarian is an expert in animal nutrition and can help you to understand which ingredients are appropriate for your dog’s age, breed, size, activity level, caloric needs, and overall health. She can also help to identify any potential allergens or sensitivities that you should be aware of when choosing a treat recipe.
10. Read reviews and ask for recommendations.
There are many ways to learn more about healthy and yummy homemade treat recipes for your dog. One of the best ways is to seek out recommendations from fellow pet owners, groomers, veterinarians, and pet store owners. These individuals are often well-versed in dog nutrition and can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their own experiences and knowledge.
You can also check out reputable online forums or social media groups dedicated to dog ownership, where you can connect with other dog owners and share ideas and recipes. There’s also a wealth of information and recipe ideas in books, magazines, and online resources dedicated to homemade dog treats.
By tapping into the knowledge and experience of others, you can learn more about nourishing and appetizing homemade treat recipes and find new and creative ways to keep your furry friend happy and well-fed.
Want healthy, easy, and pup-approved treats sent to your inbox each month?
I hope you found these tips helpful and that they encourage you to try making some homemade dog treats of your own! If you’re interested in receiving creative and quality treat recipes delivered straight to your inbox, be sure to sign up for my treat-of-the-month emails. Each month, I’ll send you special VIP content, including a new pup-approved recipe that you can easily make right in your own kitchen using ingredients that are nutritious and delicious. From savory cookies to frozen fruit treats, you’ll find a wide variety to whip up that your dog is sure to give two paws way up! And because I love efficiency and convenience, every recipe is quick, easy to follow, and hassle-free.
Homemade dog treats are the perfect pack-and-bring to your dog’s photography session. If you’re ready to treat yourself and your pup to his own session, I’d love to connect with you! Choose your adventure below to begin.
Did you enjoy this post? Great, there’s more coming your way because it’s part of a photography blog circle featuring photographers specializing in a variety of niches! And hey—your dog won’t be the only one drooling as we move through this week’s circle in which you’re sure to find “A Favorite Recipe.” Next to whip up something delicious is Amy Tedrow with Believe, Create, Inspire Photography, sharing top tips to capture mouthwatering food photography for your small business or brand and her favorite recipe to photograph. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here. If you get lost along the way, just look for the trail of dog hair. I won’t be far off…