Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Dog Treats

First- thanks again to everyone who left comments and pictures as part of the giveaway. We really loved reading all the comments, and seeing the pictures- I'll be doing a post soon with highlights! While unfortunately not everyone can be the giveaway winner, at least we all can enjoy some treats!

I'd been wanting to make Captain some homemade biscuits for a while, and finally got around to it when I had some leftover canned pumpkin and fresh herbs that needed to get used up. Captain is used to getting homemade frosty paws, but biscuits were a first! Read on for a few different homemade treat recipes (including frosty paws!), all of which are incredibly easy to make. We're talking minimal time & effort, so you can quickly get back to running around with your active Vizsla :)

Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Biscuits
Adapted from Heather Homemade's Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
Dairy Free, makes ~2 dozen bones
  • 1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • optional: 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • A few dashes of cinnamon
Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined and the mix comes together. You can add more water, by the tablespoon, if it's too dry, and more flour if too wet.

Roll the dough out on some parchment paper and use a cookie cutter to cut into desired shapes. Place in preheated 350F oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, turning the biscuits over mid-way through baking. Allow to fully cool before handing over to the pup, and store leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

I think these came out well, but they may have been a bit chewy. Of course, Captain is pretty much happy with anything. He was pretty excited, and kept begging for seconds.... thirds.... fourths....

Here's another easy homemade treat, that we make often:

Homemade Doggy Frosty Paws:
I used to be all concerned about measuring out amounts of yogurt and peanut butter, but honestly, it doesn't matter much- simply mix together yogurt with a little peanut butter in a blender, and freeze in mini Tupperware containers.  I use these mini 4 oz round plastic containers, they are perfect for homemade frosty paws. But, here are the specifics:

Option 1: Basic Homemade Frosty Paws Recipe (great for young pups who need to gain a few!)
For the original recipe posting: click here

  • 1 large 16 oz container of plain, low sugar yogurt (full or low fat usually has less sugar than non-fat. Also, avoid fake-sweetened yogurts. See below for substitutions and dairy-free options)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup no salt added, low-sugar peanut butter (natural peanut butters tend to be lower in sugar)
Instructions: Place all ingredients in a blender and mix well. Pour into mini containers and allow to set for 1-2 hrs before giving to the pup as a frozen treat. These can be stored in freezer for a month or so.
Substitutions: Any 1 of the following peanut butter and/or dairy options can be substituted for above amounts.
  • Peanut butter substitutions: (in case there is a nut allergy in the family!)
    • 1/4 cup applesauce
    • 1 banana 
    • 1/4 cup blueberries+ a little molasses (amount of molasses will vary depending on amount of yogurt/liquid you use, but generally should be between 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp)
  • Dairy substitutions: (in case your dog doesn't react well to dairy!)
    • To reduce the amount of dairy: you can use an 8 oz container of low sugar yogurt, and 1-2 cups of water. This will yield fewer treats than above, but still works great.
    • To avoid using any dairy: use an 8 oz container of plain almond milk yogurt (such as Almond Dream brand, if you can find it in your grocery store), or simply 1 cup of low-sugar plain applesauce, and 1-2 cups of water as above.
Sometimes I let Captain lick the empty containers clean!

Option 2: Banana Frosty Paws (low dairy, lower fat)
  • 8 oz container plain low sugar yogurt (you can use the above yogurt substitutions as needed)
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (again, peanut butter substitutions as above)
Blend together and store as for above.
Captain nose-diving into a Frosty Paws
These are so easy to make, and so great because not only are they a well-loved treat, but they also keep the pup occupied for a little while! When we go out at night, we often leave Captain with a frosty paws; sometimes I think he wants us to go just so he can get one ;-)

*If your dog tends to chew or eat containers: Watch him/her the first time you give him/her one, to make sure they don't try to eat the plastic. Captain is always good about this; he licks it clean and leaves it.... or proudly brings the empty container to us, wiggling happily all over ;-) But something to watch out for if you have a "little destroyer" on your hands. A thicker mix (greater peanut butter:yogurt ratio) might work in a Kong frozen if so.

Apple Banana "Breath Cakes"
These are more like cookies or little cakes than biscuits, and are chock-full of mint and parsley to help freshen breath! Since they are somewhat softer than most dog treats, make sure to keep them small. Or, if you prefer to roll out and cut into biscuits, add more flour and/or less water- this will make them crunchier.

Makes about 2 dozen treats
  • 1 and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds (If you don't have flax, you can try omitting, or using an egg - if doing the latter, use less water. But I recommend getting some flax seeds- good for your own health and your pup's!)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or if you don't have any, slice and puree 1 large apple, place in saucepan, add about 2-4Tbsp water, and heat for about 10 min. Add a dash of cinnamon if desired).
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 cup mint leaves, finely chopped (or place in food processor and pulse)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped (or place in food processor and pulse)
Preheat oven to 350F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
To make the dough, you can place all items in food processor and pulse to mix, or, if you have a small (or no) food processor, place the flour & ground flax in large bowl and combine. Add mashed banana and apple sauce or apple mix, followed by water (add 1/4 cup first, and more as needed) and combine. Add in herbs last. Spoon a small amount of dough (1 Tbsp or less) onto cookie sheet and press the dough down a bit. Bake for 12-14min or until golden brown, and then flip the cookies over and bake for another 3 min. Allow to cool fully before giving to your pup. Store in air-tight container or zip-lock baggie and use within ~5 days (ie, the shelf life on these is not very long. You could freeze half the batch to use within 2 weeks).

Boy oh boy did Captain like these!

As you can see, most of these recipes can be easily adapted. Just be sure to use natural, low-sugar or no-sugar ingredients (peanut butter, applesauce, yogurt), pay attention to your dog's individual needs or allergies, and don't mix in things dogs aren't supposed to eat (chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, peppers, spicy foods, etc). Keep it simple and natural, and you're sure to have some waggy tails :-)


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