You can’t have dogs without treats. They’re the universally, easily understood language of love between dog owners and their dogs. It’s essential especially if they’re a new addition to the family–whether a newborn pup or newly adopted–and you want to get close to them!
And of course, you need treats for training. There are always opportunities to teach your dog another essential command or fun trick, and treats help them learn fast.
Some commercially-sold dog treats do provide a lot of nutrition aside from working as a training aid. But most of them are unhealthy, stuffed with ingredients that could trigger allergies or simply take your dog on the road to obesity.
Here are some of the healthiest (and easiest) dog treat recipes that you can make at home. You know what’s in them so that gives you peace of mind knowing your dog only gets good stuff.
What to Avoid When Making Homemade Treats
Aside from the toxic foods you know would harm your dogs, you want to avoid certain fillers that can lead to weight gain or even trigger allergic reactions.
- Sugar. Sugar, either processed or natural, should not be given to dogs in large quantities, as it can cause gas, diarrhoea, or vomiting.
- Artificial sweeteners. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that can cause gastrointestinal irritation in dogs. Make sure to check the ingredients you use to make sure you avoid any kind of artificial sweetener
- Common allergy triggers. Allergy triggers, like in humans, vary among dogs. These triggers can be anything from beef, dairy, chicken, eggs, fish, or seafood. Telltale signs of an allergic reaction in dogs include scratching, chewing on their paws, shedding, vomiting, and diarrhoea. To be safe, get to know your dog’s sensitivities before making homemade treats and always consult your veterinarian.
Look at Superfood Ingredients
When you make your dog treats, it’s your chance to include superfoods. Think of superfood ingredients as healthy cheat codes that ensure your dog’s well-being. Superfoods are whole ingredients that naturally contain compounds such as vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, and antioxidants.
These superfoods provide a whole lot of nutritional value without the burden of excess fat, calories, or cholesterol.Pumpkin or squash
- Rich source of fibre, which keeps digestion healthy and helps with issues like diarrhoea and constipation
- Rich in beta-carotene, which boosts your dog’s immune system, eye health, and looks after their skin and coat.
- Yoghurt acts as a probiotic and is high in calcium and protein
- Avoid yoghurts that have high sugar content and contain artificial sweeteners
- Greek yoghurt is best for dogs, as it has lower levels of lactose
- Dark leafy greens (like spinach and kale) are rich in phytonutrients, giving them antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Also high in calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C, and K, and also rich in fibre
- Blueberries are the anti-cancer superfood for dogs. They contain high levels of antioxidants, which help slow cellular damage
- Support your dog’s urinary tract health
- Give the benefits of high fibre and beneficial vitamins at lower sugar levels
- Anchovies and sardines provide high levels of Omega-3, which can improve your dog’s coat and skin, as well as their heart, brain, and joint health
- Great sources of calcium, zinc, vitamins B12, D, E, and K
- If you use these little fish as treats, make sure they’re unsalted
- Eggs contain high quality protein, amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and nutrients
- They are easily digestible, great for dogs with upset stomachs
- Sliced boiled eggs are good, high-value treats by themselves. And as a topper for their meals, it can be such a special thrill for dogs (and an enticement for picky eaters)
Consider Specific Health Needs of Your Dog
Treats can be sources of nutrition and support for specific needs. Look at the superfoods above. For example, pumpkin treats can help you address digestive issues, and treats with vegetables or fruits are great for targeting certain vitamin needs, like blueberries to support a dog recovering from an illness and yoghurt to restore gut health after a round of antibiotics.
Age is an important factor to take into consideration as well. Senior dogs can do with more collagen and minerals, and their teeth might not be what they once were, so they'd do well with bone broth jellies rather than hard treats like popsicles and baked homemade cookie treats.
Always check in with your veterinarian for a proper assessment of your dog’s nutritional needs. At the end of the day, your goal is to satisfy all aspects of your dog’s health.
Without further ado, here are our favourite treat recipes!
Veggie/Fruit Homemade Treats
Fruits and vegetables contain some of the vitamins and minerals integral for your dog’s development. They’re also rich in fibre to help your dog’s digestive system. If you have a picky eater who doesn’t like green additions in their food, treats are a good way to sneak in superfood veggies and fruits.
Dehydrated green bean crunchies
Pop several green beans into a dehydrator set at 170 degrees for 8 hours, or until the beans are crunchy. Once done, remove the beans from the dehydrator and let them cool completely before storing in a glass airtight container.
Peanut butter and carrot treats
Add boiled carrots, oats, and peanut butter into a food processor until it forms a soft sticky dough. Roll the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper until it is about ½ inches thick, before cutting the treats out into your desired shape. Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 150-degree oven. Let the treats cool before serving.
Frozen apple treats
Slice apples and remove the cores. Blend the apple chunks with Greek yoghurt until you reach your desired consistency. Add water if needed, then fill an ice tray with the mixture.
Frozen watermelon treats
After deseeding a watermelon, cut it into chunks and blend them with coconut milk and honey. Pour the mixture into an ice tray.
Deseed a watermelon, then puree until smooth. Process pineapple chunks until smooth as well, and mix the two purees together. In a muffin pan, place a slice of banana in each cup before topping them with the fruit mixture. Place the muffin pan in the freezer until the mixture is solid.
Blueberry Homemade Treats
Blueberries, fresh or frozen, are great additions to your dog’s diet. Blueberries are low in calories and contain high amounts of vitamin C, fibre, and phytochemicals; they are also antioxidants. But these fruits can be a bit hazardous, especially for smaller dogs, on account of their small size. Check out these blueberry homemade treats that dogs of all sizes can enjoy.
Frozen blueberry treats
Melt coconut oil and pour about halfway into small separate moulds before putting them in the freezer. Blend blueberries until smooth, then fill the rest of the moulds with the mixture. Leave the moulds in the freezer for an hour, or until frozen solid.
Mash overripe bananas and add them to a mixture of blueberries, canned pure pumpkin, rolled oats, honey, and egg. Drop teaspoon-sized balls of the mixture onto a baking sheet. Bake for one hour at 350°F until brown and chewy.
Grind oats in a food processor until it reaches a flour-like consistency. Add in eggs and applesauce and whisk, adding water as needed to form a moist dough. Scoop up the dough and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for small biscuits for 15 minutes, or 20 minutes for medium biscuits, at 350°F.
Blueberry peanut butter bites
Mix rolled oats (ground into a flour consistency), blueberries, eggs, applesauce, and peanut butter in a food processor. Scoop out the dough and roll it into little balls, before pressing them down into a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350°F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the treats start to brown on the edges.
Yoghurt and berries treats
Scatter blueberries and strawberries in a mould, before pouring plain (or Greek) yoghurt over them. Let the mixture freeze overnight, or five hours at the minimum.
Bone Broth Homemade Treats
Bone broth (pork, chicken, or beef) is a nutrient-dense, extremely easy, and tasty superfood for dogs. Use it as a soup to add plenty of hydration in your dog’s meals, or use it as a base for delicious popsicles and jelly treats. These are great ways to boost your dog’s immune system, digestive function, and collagen for their teeth and joints.
Bone broth and peanut butter bites
In a small bowl, mix together peanut butter and parsley. Fill small moulds halfway with bone broth before putting them in the freezer. Once frozen, add the peanut butter-parsley mixture and place the moulds back into the freezer for at least four hours.
Bone broth jellies
Mix unflavored gelatin powder with warm water until completely dissolved. Add the bone broth and mix until thoroughly combined. Spoon the mixture into your moulds, and place them in the refrigerator for one to two hours.
Combine unseasoned bone broth, plain yoghurt, and lactose-free trim milk (or other lactose-free milk). Pour the mixture into your moulds before freezing them.
Frozen carrot dog chews
Boil carrots in the bone broth for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Set the carrots on a parchment-lined plate, and let them freeze until solid. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.
Chicken dog gummies
Boil a couple of sweet potatoes until they are soft. Bring chicken broth to a boil and gradually add gelatine powder, until fully dissolved. Stir the mashed sweet potatoes into the mixture and allow it to cool slightly before pouring them into moulds. Place the moulds in the fridge for 45 minutes, or until the gummies are set.
Oatmeal Homemade Treats
Oatmeal is rich in soluble fibre and vitamins and minerals (such as iron, zinc, and B vitamins). Oats are also helpful for gastrointestinal issues, making oatmeal treats great additions to the diets of senior dogs and dogs with sensitive stomachs. You usually see oats in dog biscuits.
Peanut butter oatmeal dog biscuits
Mash a cup of oats, an egg, and an overripe banana with some peanut butter. Scoop the mixture into small balls and flatten them onto a cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let them cool before serving.
Applesauce dog treats with oats
Grind oats in a food processor until almost a fine powder, before adding eggs and plain applesauce. Mix thoroughly, then place the dough onto a floured surface before rolling it out to a ⅛-inch thickness. Cut the dough into the desired shapes, then bake them for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Traditional baked rolled oat dog treats
Combine rolled oats, unsalted beef or chicken broth, egg, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Pour the mixture over parchment paper and knead it until it becomes firm. After pressing it into a half-inch thickness, cut the dough into your desired shapes. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.
Peanut butter-pumpkin oats dog chews
Beat pumpkin puree, lactose-free milk, and peanut butter using an electric mixer on medium-high. Reduce the speed to add the oats gradually, until well-incorporated. Scoop the mixture into 1 ½-inch balls and roll them around in the leftover oats. Refrigerate for an hour or until firm.
Doggy breath mints
Add oats to a blender and process until fine powder. In a separate bowl, mix egg, water, freshly chopped mint, and coconut or virgin olive oil. Add the oat flour to the mixture and combine. Knead and flatten the dough until it is a quarter inch thick, then cut into your desired shapes. Bake at a pre-heated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until golden brown.
Pumpkin Homemade Treats
Pumpkin helps address constipation and mild diarrhoea in dogs. It’s also a great source of Vitamins A, C, E, potassium, and iron. Dogs love pumpkins. You may need to make sure they don’t eat too much of it!
Frozen pumpkin-yoghurt bites
Mix together pumpkin puree and plain yoghurt. Pour the mixture into your moulds or into an ice tray. Leave in the freezer for 24 hours.
Stir together rolled oats, pumpkin puree, and nut butter (peanut or almond). Roll the mixture into bite-sized pieces, lay them out on a sheet of parchment paper, and place them in the freezer.
Mix together nonfat plain yoghurt, pumpkin puree, and old-fashioned oats until well-incorporated. Top the mixture with some fat-free whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Dehydrated pumpkin dog treats
In a bowl, mix canned pure pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, maple syrup (or honey). Spread the mixture across the tray in the dehydrator and leave it to process at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 6-10 hours.
Vegan pumpkin dog treats
Combine pumpkin puree, peanut butter, and flax meal using a food processor. Gradually add in the oat flour and blend until combined. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface until a quarter of an inch thick, before cutting it into the desired shapes. Bake the treats for 30-35 minutes at 350 F. Can be stored up to 1 week in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.