DIY Natural Dog and Cat Treats
Everyone enjoys a treat now and then, and your fur babies are no different! Ironically, while humans consider candy bars, ice cream, and cookies treats, many of the ones available for dogs and cats tend to be a bit healthier.
That’s not to say there aren’t a number of unappealing treats on the market- offering little to no nutritional value, sketchy ingredients, and sorely lacking an enticing smell or savory taste.
It can be frustrating and time-consuming spending hours at a pet store, online, or in a supermarket trying to decipher all the labels on the treat packages. Determining which ones have the healthiest ingredients can be difficult. And of course figuring out which ones taste the best or won’t trigger an allergy – it might leave you wondering if you and your pet would be better off if you start making your own natural dog and cat treats at home.
Why make your own dog and cat treats?
In addition to the undying love you have for your furry four-legged friends, the most important reason for making DIY natural treats will be your pet’s health. Organic treats made with nutritious, all-natural ingredients free of additives and preservatives can offer your dog and cat a number of benefits. Equally important, it can improve their over-all well-being:
- Helps them stay fit
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Healthier skin and a shiny coat
- Alleviate allergies in dogs
- Improve their digestive system
- Provide higher energy levels
- Boost oral health
- Fewer hairballs for cats
- Stronger immunity
- Lengthen their lifespan
- Enhanced quality of life
Make your own DIY Natural Dog and Cat Treats
Making all-natural dog or cat treats in your own kitchen may be easier than you think; and, the good news is…you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to get started.
You also might be surprised that you can find many of the ingredients you’ll need right in your own cupboard or refridgerator.
Ingredients like yogurt, applesauce, assorted veggies, canned tuna, oats, peanut butter, whole wheat flour, eggs, and bacon are all popular items we humans consume on a regular basis- so, you might not even have to make a special trip to the store.
Ready to get cooking? Think about your Ingredients first!
While it may be true you have many of the ingredients on hand to make healthy delicious treats for your pet, you should also become familiar with all the ingredients that could be potentially harmful if consumed by your furry friends. Many foods that humans eat can be toxic, trigger allergies, cause digestive problems, and even be fatal for a feline or canine.
So, before you begin it will be a good idea to take a look at the list of problematic foods that The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains on their website: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
Healthy treats equal happy and healthy pets
The key to your culinary prowess will be creating dog and cat treat recipes that are as healthy and nutritious as possible, because, honestly, what’s the point if they aren’t?
Using organic ingredients that incorporate vitamins, proteins, minerals, and other nutrients will also enhance your pet’s diet.
One of the greatest advantage to making DIY dog and cat treats is that you can customize any recipe you find to suit your pet’s taste and needs.
It also will be a good idea to have a chat with your pet’s vet before you head to the kitchen.
Some factors to discuss with your vet include:
- Optimal daily calorie intake for your cat or dog,
- What dietary fats will provide the most concentrated source of energy,
- Potential allergy sensitivities,
- Your pet’s unique nutritional requirements
These considerations will all be invaluable information before you begin the cooking process.
Although not as personalized, dog and cat owners who are computer savvy can also do a bit of research on their own, as the internet can provide a wealth of info to help you choose the right ingredients for your treats. As a rule of thumb, or rather paw in this case, treats should never be given as a substitute for your pet’s daily meals. In fact, depending how many treats your fur baby eats (which should be no more than 1-2 a day) it will be a good idea to decrease the amount of food you give them at mealtime so they maintain a healthy weight.
Treats for Dogs
Whether you use treats as a reward, a tool for training, to promote healthy teeth, to administer meds, or just because you love your pooch to pieces, your dog will no doubt gobble up any treat you make for them. You can find a number great organic dog treat cookbooks on Amazon and terrific recipes for natural dog treats online. Since dogs love peanut butter and bacon, here’s a delicious tail-wagging treat recipe from http://www.dogtreatkitchen.com to get you started:
Homemade Dog Biscuits with Peanut Butter & Bacon
2 pieces bacon, thick cut, cooked and crumbled
1/8 cup bacon grease
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup water
- Preheat oven to 325° F
- Cook bacon until crispy. Drain on a paper towel- pour the bacon grease into a glass measuring cup.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground flax, wheat bran, and baking powder.
- Crumble the bacon, once cooled, and stir into the flour mixture.
- In a microwave safe bowl, warm the peanut butter-approximately 30 seconds.
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg. Then pour in the peanut butter, water, and bacon grease. Use a fork to whisk together the wet ingredients until completely combined.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients, and pour in the peanut butter mixture-Stir until combined.
- Knead lightly in the bowl with your hands.
- Lay down one large sheet of parchment paper, roll your dough onto it, then lay another piece of parchment on top. You’ll essentially have a dog treat dough sandwich.
- Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.
- Lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cut shapes out of the dough (try a bone-shaped cookie cutter!) and place on your prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and leave them there to cool for 2 hours or overnight.
Storing – These homemade dog biscuits will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. They will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Yield – Using a 3 inch bone shaped cookie cutter, you will get 18 homemade dog biscuits.
Treats for Cats
Interestingly enough, some experts believe that a cat’s fondness for treats is founded in its genome sequencing. In simpler terms, through the process of becoming domesticated, your furry feline’s affinity for treats became ‘hard-wired’ into their DNA.
Perhaps a more commonly known reason is that cat treats just seem to be more appealing- especially in regard to taste and smell. And, if the truth be told, many treat recipes will have a secret ingredient of catnip that is stirred into the mix.
Natural cat treats are the ‘purrrfect’ incentive if you want to teach your kitty a trick, reward good behavior, or just because he or she is so darn cute!
While you can find a variety of cat cookbooks just chock full of recipes, you can also find a ton of them online. The website Modern Cat (https://moderncat.com/articles/diy-eat-homemade-organic-cat-treats/) has some really great organic treat recipes for cats; but for your first attempt, here’s an easy and popular one from CD Kitchen https://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/6/Cat_Cookies48272.shtml that’s made from 3 simple, healthy ingredients your kitty will go crazy for!
Sardine Cat Cookies
7 ounces mashed sardines
1/4 cup dry non-fat milk
1/2 cup wheat germ
- Mix all ingredients well in a medium sized bowl
- Roll into 24 small balls.
- Place on greased cookie sheet
- Flatten with a fork to form a cookie or you can roll out the dough on a cutting board and make shapes with fun cookie cutters
- Bake at 350 degrees until brown
- Cool; store in air-tight container in frig
To make this ‘purrrfectly’ scrumptious recipe even more enticing for your frisky feline, try tossing in a tablespoon of organic cat nip (you can either buy organic catnip or try growing some yourself to have it on hand for all your cat snacking recipes!)
You can also try adding ½ teaspoon of brewer’s yeast to your kitty’s favorite recipes. Just a dash of Brewer’s yeast will not only provide essential fatty acids and B-complex to your cat’s diet- it will help maintain his or her glossy coat, stabilize their nervous system and help ward off those nasty fleas!
The great thing about creating your own DIY natural dog and cat treats is… you will not only feel great about making them yourself, your fur babies will have plenty of healthy, yummy treats to snack on. And, no doubt they’ll love you even more for making the effort- if that’s even possible!