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While there are a variety of dog treats on the market, from freeze-dried chicken to dental chews for gum and tooth health, how can we as pet parents provide our beloved pups the freshest, most nutritious treats without breaking the bank? What if our dog is a picky eater? How do we make sure we have the right dog treats for them as a reward? If you are troubled by any of these questions, homemade dog treats may be just what you need.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the nutritional requirements for dogs, the benefits of DIY dog treats, some pantry staples and tools you need in order to make the best homemade dog treats, and end with three recipes your dog is bound to love. Continue reading to learn more or skip directly to the homemade dog treats recipe you want to see.
- Should You Make Homemade Dog Treats?
- Benefits Of DIY Dog Treats
- Pantry Staples For The Best Homemade Dog Treats
- DIY Dog Treats: Tools & Utensils
- 3 Homemade Dog Treats Recipes
- Baked Peanut Butter And Egg Homemade Dog Treat
- Frozen Apple And Yogurt Homemade Dog Treat
- Carrot, Oat, and Applesauce Homemade Dog Treat
- Final Notes
Should You Make Homemade Dog Treats?
Unlike cats who are obligate carnivores (animals who eat mostly meat), dogs are omnivores who can readily derive nutrients from both plants and animals. According to the National Research Council, dogs need 5 major groups of nutrients to survive and flourish, including1:
- Amino acids from proteins: Dietary protein contains 10 essential amino acids that dogs cannot produce on their own. These amino acids are responsible for a variety of important functions, such as maintaining a dog’s muscles and bones and supporting the immune system.
- Fatty acids and carbohydrates: Not only does fat vastly improve the texture and taste of different foods, but fatty acids are also a key factor in cell structure and function. Fatty acids like omega-3 ensure the health of your dog’s vision and skin and coat as well. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are a great source of energy for dogs.
- Vitamins: Vitamin deficiencies can cause a host of health issues in dogs. Dogs need vitamins A, D, E, K, B1, B6, B12, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, and choline in their diets, although at a low level.
- Minerals: There are 12 essential minerals for dogs. Calcium is indispensable for strong bones and teeth, while iron is needed for energy metabolism and to synthesize blood components. Other important minerals include: zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and more.
- Water: As it is often said, water is the source of all life. Adequate water intake helps in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. It also hydrates your dog and allows them to regulate their body temperature.1
Manufactured dog food is formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs and regulated and tested for safety. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) reports on the exact dog nutrient profile for adult maintenance and reproduction, and the National Research Council publishes nutritional guidelines for dogs at every life stage.2
Eating commercially available, manufactured dog food is the best way to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients they need to support their health. However, if you wish to feed them homemade dog food, consult a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to make sure what you make is nutritionally complete and well balanced.
If you are already feeding your pup commercial dog food, homemade dog treats or DIY dog treats can be a great supplement to their diet. For dogs who are picky eaters or dogs who have food allergies and intolerances, these treats can also significantly improve their quality of life.
Choosing the safest and most beneficial ingredients and cooking them correctly is the key to preparing the best homemade dog treats.
Benefits Of DIY Dog Treats
Now that you have an idea of what dogs need in terms of nutrition, let’s take a look at how DIY dog treats can benefit both you and your dog:
- No harmful ingredients: You know exactly what goes into the homemade dog treats you feed your pup. Your homemade healthy dog treats won’t have any preservatives, too much fat, or potentially harmful chemicals. If your dog is allergic to any foods, you’ll know to not include it in your treats. Not having to closely analyze every ingredient label will give you greater peace of mind.
- Freshness guaranteed: Similarly, you’ll know that the DIY dog treats you’ve made haven’t been sitting on a shelf for months on end. Without preservatives, your treats will likely have to be stored in the refrigerator. Your dog will be ecstatic to always have fresh treats at their disposal.
- Customizable: DIY dog treats can be customized to your canine companion. No matter the size of your dog, you can make treats for them that are bite-sized. If your dog has a health issue such as diabetes, it may be hard to find treats on the market that specifically cater to their condition. With homemade dog treats, you can tweak any recipe to fit your dog’s needs.
- Affordable: You might be surprised to learn that making the best homemade dog treats actually does not cost a lot of money. In fact, it can be more affordable than buying treats from the store. When your ingredients are bought in bulk, you can save even more money.
If these benefits of homemade dog treats have you excited and raring to go, in the next section, we will provide an overview of all the pantry staples, tools, and utensils you need to make it all come together.
Pantry Staples For The Best Homemade Dog Treats
While dogs are omnivores like humans, that doesn’t mean they can eat everything us humans can. Unfortunately, there is an assortment of foods dogs cannot safely eat, including grapes, macadamia nuts, and chocolate. Here are some healthy and reliable staples you should keep in your pantry if you want to make the best homemade dog treats:
- Plain, nonfat yogurt: Yogurt is high in calcium and protein. It even has probiotics that can support your dog's gut health. Just make sure it isn’t sweetened, whether using artificial or natural sweeteners. Steer clear of a high fat content as well.
- Apples: Apples contain an ample amount of vitamins A and C. They also provide lots of fiber.
- Oats: Oats contain vitamin B and are a great alternative carbohydrate for dogs that have wheat or grain sensitivities.
- Chicken: Chicken is one of the most versatile proteins. They can be transformed into a range of yummy homemade dog treats.
- Bananas: Bananas are non-toxic to dogs, and our canine companions tend to love the taste. While bananas do contain quite a bit of sugar, feeding it in moderation can be very beneficial.
- Peanut butter: There’s a reason peanut butter is so often used to lure dogs into taking their medication. They simply love the taste! In moderation, it provides vitamins B, E, and niacin.
- White rice: White rice is a great base for many homemade dog treats. It is also easy to accept for dogs that have an upset stomach.
- Pumpkin: Pumpkin contains vitamins A, C, and E. It is a good source of fiber as well.
- Carrot: Carrots are notorious for supporting eye health. They are also low in calories and very crunchy.
DIY Dog Treats: Tools & Utensils
To make DIY dog treats, you’ll need a few kitchen tools and utensils. If you cook or bake, you’ll likely already have a lot of the following. However, there are also a few dog-treat-specific ones that we recommend:
- Hand mixer or stand mixer
- Baking pans and baking mats
- Cookie presses and cookie cutters
- Non-stick rolling pin
- Measuring cups
- Silicone molds, especially small ones for bite-sized snacks
3 Homemade Dog Treats Recipes
Now that you are prepared. Let’s start on these easy-to-prepare DIY dog treats!
Baked Peanut Butter And Egg Homemade Dog Treat
If your dog likes peanut butter, they will love these homemade dog treats inspired by Puppy Leaks:
- Mix 1 cup of flour, 1 egg, and ¼ cup of peanut butter.
- Add water in until you see a cookie-dough-like consistency.
- Roll out the dough flat and thin and cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters.
- Bake in an oven that is preheated to 350°F for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Frozen Apple And Yogurt Homemade Dog Treat
This recipe inspired by Irresistible Pets requires no baking and you only need two ingredients for the perfect summertime treat:
- Dice 2 to 3 apples into small pieces and combine with about 1 cup of plain, nonfat yogurt.
- For a smoother consistency, add some water and blend the mixture in a blender.
- Freeze your mixture in ice cube trays or small silicone molds.
Carrot, Oat, and Applesauce Homemade Dog Treat
These nutrient-rich treats inspired by Baking Mischief are a crowd favorite:
- For this homemade dog treats recipe, you’ll need an equal amount of carrots, unsweetened apple sauce, oats, and all-purpose flour.
- Then, mix everything together in a mixing bowl and dollop small circles of the mixture onto a lined baking tray.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, at 350°F.
Making homemade dog treats does not need to be a hassle. Just have a few dog-friendly ingredients in your pantry and you can get started with ease.
If you have any questions on how to make nutritionally complete and balanced dog food at home, consult a Dutch vet. Dutch is an online vet service that provides affordable, high-quality care to pets from the comfort of their own home. Get started with just $15 a month. Try Dutch today.
"Your Dog's Nutritional Needs." National Research Council, https://nap.nationalacademies.org/resource/10668/dog_nutrition_final_fix.pdf.
Sanderson, Sherry Lynn. "Nutritional Requirements and Related Diseases of Small Animals." Merck Veterinary Manual, Oct 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/nutrition-small-animals/nutritional-requirements-and-related-diseases-of-small-animals.