We all know what a great motivator food can be for our dogs. For habit streaken Borders, food is advised to be used as the purpose to a walk, or to training. But – and we know this even too well – Borders, as well as other breeds can put on weight very easily. We like to indulge our canine friends with food – they are all good boys and good girls, they are the only ones who do not moan about our culinary experiments, as in fact they much welcome and appreciate the odd treat here and there. One, or ten, that is! So, how to ensure that our dogs are rewarded without impending on their good health? Easy, with homemade dog treats!!!
Homemade dog treats? Easy!
OK, I am not the most successful cook this world can gift you with. My son, age 17, cooks much better than me, and much prefers to make his own dinner than enduring the sufference of having one of my meals. And I don’t blame the poor boy – it’s all true. I don’t have flair and creativity to prep and combine ingredients – I just do not have the patience, nor do I enjoy it.
You will wonder, then, how one earth I can expect of myself to make treats for my dog without risking poisoning or having him turn his nose in disgust. Well, I know I can do it, because making treats for dogs is easy!!!
I have been nurturing the idea of making my own treats for Indy for a while. We read far too often how reach in unnecessary fats some of the most renowned brands of dog food can be, or how difficult it may be to find treats that do not contain allergenic ingredients.
In fact, some 4 years ago, we had to put Indy on a diet in the summer, after finding out that he was nearly 3kgs over the average weight of 7-7.5kg for a male Border. The diet was drastic, and I am sure our Indy did not love us a bit for being deprived of generous portions of both canine and human food. But this harsh measure had to be taken, after we found out that for the second consecutive summer, Indy kept limping and his joints were getting inflamed. Too much weight aggraviating on his bones. We did not want to go down the route of arthritis, kidney or heart problems. So we started doing something about it. And Indy, within a few months, lost all the extra weight. By Christmas Indy was at his ideal weight.
And since then, we have ensured his weight is kept between the 7.5-8kg mark, as we no longer want to make him suffer by making him go through near starvation!
Good ingredients, bad ingredients
Away from pre-made and pre-packed food, when deciding to feed your dog natural ingredients or to home make his or her meals, we must still be careful at which ingredients to use, as some human ingredients are poisonous for dogs.
Again, if you google for dangerous ingredients for dogs, you will come about hundreds of articles and pictorials of ingredients. The most renowned dangerous foods for dogs are chocolate and grapes and its derivatives.
Some of the foods listed in this picture can in fact lead to your dog dying of intoxication of the liver, or to kidney disease, both conditions causing extreme unwell being in your dog, much more painful for canines than in humans. We do not want our dogs to end up like that, do we? So, big no-no to the above foods!
On the other hand, other human natural ingredients are in fact very good for dogs, such as:
Let’s get cooking
Due to work and family commitments, I’ll be honest, I still feed Indy pre-packed food for his regular meals. He likes Asda branded kibble, chicken or beef, for senior dogs, which he has in minimum quantity at breakfast and as part of his dinner. However, for his dinner, he also loves NatureDiet pouches – I regularly get a selection from Zooplus, as Indy likes to vary between different meaty flavours. A packet lasts me for over a week sometimes – I preserve it in its own packet in the fridge once opened, and feed Indy only a levelled soup spoon along with a few kibble. For lunch, Indy has a Pedigree Dentastix, along with another meaty stick from the supermarket.
So, as you can see, Indy’s diet is very much based on industry branded foods, and quite far from the homemade meals I referred to above. Nevertheless, sometimes and especially with his after dinner dessert or treats, I am now going natural, especially as all the recipes I am about to suggest can be frozen and used only if and when there is a need.
So, let’s get cooking!
Not only for supper, but also. I think the below ideas are most suited as bed time treat, or as after dinner dessert. So, here we go!
Apple Crunch Dogcakes
- 500gr of water
- 60gr of apple sauce
- 2 tablespoon of honey
- A pinch of vanilla extract
- 1 medium egg
- 900gr of whole wheat flour
- 230gr of unsweetened apple chips
Preheat the oven at 200C. In the meantime, mix water, apple sauce, honey, egg and vanilla extract in your food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased muffin tray and bake for 1hour and 45 minutes.
Basic Dog Biscuits
- 250gr of wholemeal flour
- 275gr of unsalted natural peanut butter
- 225 ml of coconut milk
Preheat the oven at 190C. Grease well a baking tray. Stir the flour with the baking powder and allow to rest. In a medium bowl then, mix together the peanut butter and the milk. Stir in the flour mixture until blended. On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth. Roll out to approximately 1cm thickness and cut into shapes (using a biscuit cutter will make your life easier). Place the biscuits some 2cm apart from each other on the baking tray and bake for some 20 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving to your dog.
As we are in the bloom of the summer months – and with the highest temperatures in UK since 1976!! – it should be our main concern to ensure that our dogs are kept as refreshed as possible. We like colder food, so do they. So, here are few ideas to make the summer a memorable and fun one for our hounds too!
Strawberry Ice Cream
- 1 Small tub of fresh strawberries
- 800gm of low fat or plain yogurt
Mash the strawberries in your food processor and add the yogurt. Pour in small containers and freeze. Your dog will enjoy a container at a time for afternoon snack or after his/her dinner.
Carob Chip Ice Cream
I had never heard of carob until I came across this recipe. Carob is a tree, whose long pods are often used to feed pigs. In the States primarily, carob chips are often used as a chocolate substitute. However carob chips are readily available in UK and other countris too. And, carob is not toxic for your dog!
- 2 x 180gr tabs of low fat or plain yogurt
- 76gr of carob chips
- 1 tablespoon of honey
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl till they are well amalgamated. Pour the mix in cup cake containers or in ice cube trays and freeze. Again, this dog-friendly ice cream will be a winner with your dog!
Banana Ice Cream
- 1 ripe banana
- 230gr of peanut butter
- 500gr of natural plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons of honey
Mash the banana and then stir in the yogurt. Warm the peanut butter in the microwave and then mix with the yogurt and banana. Add the honey to soften the mixture, and keep mixing till it is all well amalgamated. Pour in a non-stick container and freeze overnight. Feed to your dog in small portions.
Savoury Ice Cream
And last but not least, an ice cream which, if I were a dog, I can easily imagine as my favourite.
- A spoonful of apple sause
- Some dribbles of honey
- Bits of crisy bacon
- A sprinkle of rice crispies
- Dashes of toasted sesame seeds
Mix the ingredients all together and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, if you have any in your cupboard. Freeze, and I am sure your dog will love it!
I needed help
OK, hands up, I am not the author of the above recipes. It goes back to my initial confession of being an absolute disaster in the kitchen, and of lacking imagination and creativity. My thanks must go to Cesar Millan’s Cesar’s Way, allrecipes and to The Dogington Post for giving me ideas to treat my Indy to yummy, but natural treats.
Naturally in following all the above recipes, make sure you avoid ingredients that you are aware your dog to be allergic too. Likewise, when it comes to measures, you do not have to stick necessarily to the weights advised. I never do – no patience. But the above portions are meant for you to cook enough to store, and not to feed to your dog all at once.
I know making treats for your dog means having to do additional cooking. But, believe me when I tell you it’s easy, fun and mostly, for once someone will appreciate your efforts!