These days, we’re pretty health-conscious and try to focus on the best-quality foods our budgets can accommodate. (Not that we don’t enjoy a good cupcake. Or two. Or three.) And we’ll gladly cook everything from a simple one-pot meal to an elaborate dinner party at home in order to have control over the ingredients and the final product. But what about our dogs? Too often, we’re guilty of showering them with love in the form of off-the-grocery-shelf dog treats. “But they adore these treats!” we tell ourselves to justify it, willfully ignoring what we already know: healthy isn’t a word that anyone can apply to these store-bought cookies.
Well, consider us schooled, because we’ve just started baking homemade treats, and not only are they as easy to make as a chocolate chip cookie, but when made in big batches, they’re even more cost effective than the boxed biscuits with the unpronounceable ingredients. And seeing as our dogs go paws-up, tail-wagging crazy for them, we’d have to say that they don’t miss the supermarket stuff in the least.
To make some healthy, all-natural dog treats at home, try one of these simple recipes. They make great hostess gifts, too, so bake extras and give them as gifts in colored cellophane bags or mason jars tied with a pretty ribbon.
As you’ve probably already discovered, dogs have a bit of a sweet tooth. This five-ingredient, fiber-filled recipe, featuring apples, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, caters to these tastes. Bonus: they make the house smell incredible while they’re baking. Never thought you’d say that about a dog treat, did you?
For this variation on the peanut butter theme, domestic diva Cheryl of TidyMom snuck in a few pieces of bacon and went the gluten-free route—good for dogs with skin allergies and irritable bowel. But, really, we can’t imagine a dog who would turn down these crispy, savory-sweet goodies.
Carrot & Banana Natural Dog Treats from 17 Apart
This recipe will please even the most discerning, farmer’-market-loving pooch. With the naturally sweet carrot and banana taking center stage, no other sweeteners are needed.
Adapted from pastry chef Bo Frieberg’s notorious dog-biscuit recipe, this recipe makes a dense, cakey biscut that resembles the store-bought variety, with plenty of crunch for dogs who like to chomp. We recommend substituting canned pumpkin or no-sugar-added applesauce for the sugar, but the flax is a terrifically healthful addition; its anti-inflammatory properties are especially beneficial for dogs who suffer from arthritis and other joint problems.