Learning how to make homemade dog treats is a great way to reward your pooch without having to worry about his health or safety. With the recent string of dog treat recalls, we can’t be too careful about what our canine companions snack on.
When you make your pets’ treats at home you don’t need to worry about where the ingredients come from or how they are processed. You can control the quality of the ingredients and how they are prepared and stored.
They may not make up a large portion of his diet, but over time the toxins, chemicals, artificial ingredients, and fillers found in poor quality treats can lead to serious negative health effects. You should put as much consideration into the treats you feed your Fido as you do the dog food he eats every day.
If you learn how to make homemade dog treats, you’ll have peace of mind in knowing that your pooch is getting a healthy and safe snack.
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How To Make Homemade Dog Treats
1. Select quality ingredients
Choosing the best ingredients is obviously the most important part of learning how to make homemade dog treats. You should buy the best ingredients that you can afford. The higher the quality of ingredients, the healthier the treats will be for your dog.
Look for ingredients that are organic, fresh and all-natural. If you’ll be using a protein source (like meat, poultry or fish), try to buy hormone- and antibiotic-free products. Your best option is to look for local sources like a natural food store, farmer’s market or butcher shop in your area.
2. Find flavors that entice your dog
Just like us, dogs have taste preferences. Some dogs enjoy the flavor of peanut butter, while others prefer beef or chicken flavored treats. If your dog has been living with you for a long period of time, you probably already know some of these preferences. If not, now worries!
Trial and error is part of the fun of learning how to make homemade dog treats. As I mention in my video guide, I just found out that our chocolate lab loves the flavor of carob. I made some treats with carob powder this week, and she comes running as soon as I open the bag.
When you find flavors that your dog enjoys, try using them in his treats. You may be able to substitute some of his favorite ingredients or just search for recipes that use those products.
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3. Stay on budget
I often hear pet owners say that making their own dog treats would cost too much money. Actually, if you compare homemade treats with commercial treats of the same quality they aren’t more expensive at all.
In fact, it’s probably a little bit cheaper to learn how to make homemade dog treats!
You can save yourself a lot of money by buying produce that is in season. If the recipe calls for out of season ingredients just substitute a canine-friendly fruit or vegetable in its place. Some options you could consider include:
- sweet potato
…and there are many more. There are many fruits and vegetables that are toxic to dogs, so make sure to check with your vet or do some research on your own if you’re unsure.
You can also grow your own produce. If you live in a rural area you could grow a large garden with plenty of fruits and veggies for all the members of your family (even the furry ones). You could also raise your own meat and poultry.
This wouldn’t be possible if you live in an urban area, but you could still grow enough food to reduce your homemade dog treat budget. You could plant a few vegetables in a raised bed or a window box. You’ll be surprised how much money this could save you on your dog treat expenses.
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4. Storing homemade dog treats
There are two major drawbacks to consider when learning how to make homemade dog treats. First, it’s much less convenient than grabbing a bag of treats off the pet store shelf. I think the health and safety benefits greatly outweigh this drawback though.
The other is the lack of preservatives in homemade treats. Store bought treats can last for months, and will usually be stored in some of those cute-looking dog treat jars. However, homemade dog treats will only last a couple of weeks, if that. Most homemade dog treats recipes will call for storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I usually make a double batch of treats and only cook 1/4 of them. I store the cooked treats as described above, but the rest I save for baking at a later date. If you place the uncooked treats on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, you can easily freeze them.
Once frozen, put the treats in an airtight container and they’ll keep for months in your freezer. When you run out of treats, just pull a container out of the freezer and bake. This is an easy way to make treats in advance; you’ll just need to have the storage space in your freezer.
FULL GUIDE: How To Make Homemade Dog Food 101