The 7 Best Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

Amy Thompson

Dogs are cherished members of our families, and they deserve the very best in care and nutrition. Just like we pay attention to the quality of food we consume, it's important to ensure our furry friends are eating safe and healthy homemade dog treats. 

Commercial dog treats often contain questionable ingredients that might not be beneficial, or even safe, for your dog. This is why making homemade dog treats can be an excellent choice.

Creating your own dog treats at home also gives you full control over what goes into them, allowing you to choose high-quality, natural ingredients. You can avoid harmful additives and preservatives, ensuring your dog gets only the best. 

Additionally, homemade treats can cater to specific dietary needs or preferences, making them ideal for dogs with allergies or sensitivities.

Below we’ll delve into the benefits of homemade dog treats and provide you with easy-to-follow recipes. These recipes use wholesome ingredients that are not only safe but also packed with nutrients to support your dog's overall health. 

By the end of this guide, you'll be equipped to create delicious and nutritious treats that your dog will love, and you'll feel great knowing exactly what's in them! Before we get started, let’s explore why you may want to opt for homemade rather than store-bought treats.

Why Avoid Store-Bought Dog Treats?

While it may be convenient to buy store-bought dog treats, these products often contain harmful ingredients and additives that can negatively impact your dog's health.

For example, you'll notice in our recipes that there are no homemade peanut butter dog treats or dog biscuits. Why? Because while many dog lovers allow their pet to have peanut butter, it is actually not a safe ingredient (yes, even natural peanut butter).

Understanding the potential risks associated with commercial treats can help you make better choices for your pet. Here are some other unsafe treat ingredients in dog recipes or store-bought treats to be aware of.

Common Harmful Ingredients In Store-Bought Treats

  1. Corn Syrup / High Fructose Corn Syrup: These sweeteners can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders in dogs.
  2. Xylitol or Sugar Alcohols: Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs and can cause rapid insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, and even liver failure.
  3. Excessive Salt: High levels of salt can cause sodium ion poisoning in dogs, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures.
  4. Vegetable or Seed Oils: These oils are often highly processed and can cause lead to chronic health issues.
  5. Artificial Colors and Dyes: Ingredients like Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellow 5 are linked to hyperactivity and allergic reactions in dogs.
  6. Preservatives like BHA and BHT: These chemicals are used to extend shelf life but have been associated with cancer and other health problems in animals.
  7. Propylene Glycol: Used to maintain moisture, this ingredient can cause toxicity and damage to the red blood cells in dogs.
  8. Nitrates or Nitrites: Often found in processed meats, these compounds can lead to the formation of cancer-causing agents.
  9. Rendered Fat: This can contain high levels of toxins and is often a source of harmful bacteria.
  10. Wheat Gluten: Common in dog treats, wheat gluten or wheat flour can trigger allergies and digestive issues in dogs. Whole wheat flour also contains gluten, by the way.
  11. “Natural” Flavors: These can be misleading and may contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can cause a range of health issues in dogs.

The Benefits Of Homemade Dog Treats

By making homemade dog treats, you can avoid these harmful ingredients and ensure that your dog is consuming only healthy, safe foods. Homemade treats allow you to:

  1. Control the Ingredients: You can choose high-quality, organic ingredients that provide health benefits rather than risks.
  2. Avoid Allergens: Many store-bought treats contain common allergens such as wheat, soy, and artificial additives. Homemade treats allow you to cater to your dog’s specific dietary needs.
  3. Enhance Nutritional Value: Homemade treats can be packed with nutrients that support your dog's overall health and well-being, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
  4. Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases: By avoiding harmful additives and preservatives, you can help prevent the development of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cancer in your dog.
  5. Strengthen the Bond with Your Dog: Making treats at home can be a fun and rewarding activity that strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

In the next sections, we’ll provide detailed ingredients and recipes for homemade dog treats that are both safe and healthy, ensuring your furry friend gets the best nutrition possible.

Safe Dog Treat Ingredients

When making any homemade dog treats recipe, the ingredients you choose are crucial. 

The good news is that many fruits, vegetables, and meats are safe and beneficial for dogs, providing essential nutrients without harmful additives. 

Let’s explore some safe ingredients you can incorporate into your dog treat recipes.

Safe Fruits And Vegetables

  1. Pumpkin: Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber and vitamins A, C, and E. It aids digestion and supports your dog’s immune system. It also has a flavor and texture that the average dog loves.
  2. Carrots: Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is good for vision and skin health. They also provide a satisfying crunch that dogs love.
  3. Blueberries: These small berries are packed with antioxidants, which can help combat oxidative stress and support overall health.
  4. Apples: Apples (without seeds) are a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. They can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and breath fresh.

Safe Proteins

  1. Organic Chicken: Chicken is a lean protein that provides essential amino acids necessary for muscle maintenance and energy.
  2. Wild-caught fish: Small oily fish like herring, mackeral and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support skin and coat health, as well as cognitive function.
  3. Eggs: Eggs are a complete protein, offering all essential amino acids. They also provide important vitamins and minerals.

Other Beneficial Ingredients

  1. Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is rich in probiotics, which can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
  2. Cinnamon: Cinnamon has properties that may help promote healthy blood sugar levels.
  3. Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, which supports a healthy inflammatory response and joint health.

By incorporating these wholesome ingredients, you can ensure your homemade dog treats are not only safe but also beneficial for your dog's health. Avoiding common allergens and harmful additives found in store-bought treats, you can provide a snack that supports their well-being in multiple ways.

In the following sections, we’ll share some specific recipes using these ingredients, giving you simple and healthy options to treat your dog at home.

Top 7 Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

Creating homemade dog treats is a fantastic way to ensure your pet gets safe, healthy, and delicious snacks. 

One thing to keep in mind when prepping these is that using organic ingredients whenever possible will help you avoid the risk of pesticide residues.

Here are seven easy-to-make recipes that are both nutritious and tasty for your dog. Plus, many of them keep extremely well for up to two weeks in any airtight container.

1. Gingerbread Cookies For Dogs

Gingerbread cookies are a holiday favorite, and this grain-free version of a great recipe is safe and delicious for your dog.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • Honey (¼ teaspoon per 20 lbs of weight)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ¼ cup flaxseed or MCT oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix ginger, cinnamon, and flour in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together honey, oil, and water.
  3. Combine the honey mixture with the flour mixture and stir until smooth.
  4. Roll out the dough to ½ inch thickness and cut into shapes.
  5. Lightly oil a prepared baking sheet and place the cookies on it.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool before serving.

2. Blueberry And Yogurt Frozen Treats

These frozen smoothie treats are perfect for a hot day and are rich in antioxidants from blueberries.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz organic greek yogurt
  • 4 oz water
  • ½ cup blueberries

Directions:

  1. Whisk together yogurt and water to make a smooth base. For a creamier treat, use more yogurt and less water.
  2. Pour the mixture into dog treat molds, leaving room for the blueberries.
  3. Add blueberries to each mold and freeze until firm.

3. No-Bake Pumpkin Treats

If you prefer not to use the oven, these no-bake treats are a simple and healthy option for your dog.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup MCT or flaxseed oil
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Blend the oil with the pumpkin puree until well combined.
  2. Spoon the mixture into silicone molds and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Freeze for at least one hour before serving.

4. Chicken And Carrot Popsicles

These popsicles are a favorite among dogs and combine the flavors of chicken and carrots with the health benefits of turmeric and ginger.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless organic chicken leg thighs or leg quarters
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Pinch of ginger

Directions:

  1. Poach the chicken in enough water to cover it until cooked through.
  2. Add the shredded carrots and let the chicken “soup” cool.
  3. Remove the chicken, cut it into small pieces, and return it to the broth.
  4. Add ginger and turmeric, then pour the mixture into muffin tin molds.
  5. Freeze overnight and slightly heat to remove from the mold before serving.

5. Fish Dog Treats

Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support your dog's skin, coat, and overall health.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (raw or canned) fish of your choice (e.g. sardines, herring, mackerel)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup organic roasted chickpeas

Directions:

  1. Whisk the eggs until well blended.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grind the roasted chickpeas in a food processor until they resemble flour.
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Roll out the mixture on a flat surface and cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter.
  5. Bake on a baking tray for 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Dog-Safe Ice Cream

This refreshing dog ice cream is perfect for warm days and includes nutritious fruits like bananas and blueberries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic Greek or plain yogurt, or any unsweetened dairy-free alternative

Directions:

  1. Cut the ripe banana into small pieces.
  2. Blend the banana, blueberries, cinnamon, and yogurt until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into dog molds and freeze until solid.

7. Pumpkin And Carrot Treats

These meat-free treats are packed with vitamins and nutrients from pumpkin, carrots, and apples, supporting your dog's overall health.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup shredded apple
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups chickpea flour

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until smooth.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, roll out to ½ inch thickness, and cut out treats using a cookie cutter.
  4. Place the treats on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.

With these recipes, you can provide your dog with healthy, homemade treats that are free from harmful additives and full of beneficial ingredients. Homemade treats are a great way to show your love and care for your furry friend while supporting their overall health and well-being.

How Many Dog Treats To Feed

When it comes to feeding homemade dog treats, it's important to remember that they should complement your dog's diet, not replace it. Treats should be given in moderation, as they are not meant to be a substitute for balanced meals.

General Guidelines

As a rule of thumb, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake. The remaining 90% should come from their regular, nutritionally balanced dog food. This ensures that your dog receives all the essential nutrients they need to stay healthy and active.

Training and Rewards

Homemade dog treats are excellent for training and rewarding good behavior. Because they are made with wholesome ingredients, you can feel good about giving them to your dog.

However, keep portions small and consider the caloric content of the treats to avoid overfeeding.

Adjusting for Size and Activity Level

The number of treats you give should be adjusted based on your dog's size, age, and activity level. Larger, more active dogs may be able to handle a few extra treats compared to smaller or less active dogs. Always monitor your dog’s weight and overall health, and adjust treat quantities as needed to maintain a healthy balance.

By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can ensure that your dog enjoys their treats without compromising their health.

Final Thoughts

Making homemade dog treats is a fantastic way to ensure your furry friend gets the best quality snacks without any harmful additives. By using wholesome, organic ingredients, you can provide safe and healthy rewards that your dog will love. 

Not only do homemade treats allow you to control what goes into your dog’s diet, but they also offer an excellent opportunity to address specific dietary needs or preferences. 

So whether you’re baking biscuits, whipping up frozen treats, or mixing no-bake goodies, these recipes can enhance your dog’s health and happiness. 

Just remember, moderation is key, and treats should always complement a balanced diet to keep your dog in optimal condition. Enjoy the process of making these treats and watching your dog delight in every bite!

FAQ

How to make your own natural dog treats? To make your own natural dog treats, start with a simple dog treat recipe using healthy ingredients like blueberries, eggs, pumpkin and MCT oil then bake them on a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy removal.

Is it cheaper to make your own dog treats? Yes, making your own dog treats can be cheaper than buying store-bought treats, especially if you use basic ingredients like pumpkin, mashed banana, and chicken broth that you might already have at home.

What are the healthiest ingredients for dog treats? The healthiest ingredients for dog treats include organic chicken, turkey, beef and berries which provide essential nutrients and are free from artificial sweeteners and preservatives.

Are homemade treats good for dogs? Homemade treats are good for dogs because you can control the ingredients and avoid harmful additives, ensuring your fur baby enjoys safe, healthy, and tasty snacks that meet their dietary needs.