If you have dogs, you know that they’re joyful members of the family. My dogs get extra treats on all the holidays. But not all dog treats are healthy for your dog, and some are tastier and healthier than others.
Different dogs like different flavors. One of my dogs loves carrots, while the other will only eat them if he’s worried the other dog will steal them.
One of the best ways to have special treats for your pup is to make them. That way, the treat is catered to your dog’s taste and health needs. You’ll also avoid all the additives that store-bought dog treats can contain.
I love making cute, cut-out dog treats for our pets. The kids and I set aside a few cookie-making days at the end of the holiday baking. We always mix up a few batches of homemade dog treats.
Making healthy homemade dog treats from scratch is a lot easier than it sounds. There are a few basic recipes that you can alter depending on what you have on hand. The ingredients are simple and easy to find.
Most dog treats contain peanut butter, pumpkin, oats, water or broth, and some kind of flour. Many recipes add in extras like cheese, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Apart from these basic ingredients, you’ll need a bowl and spoon, cookie sheets and baking parchment, a rolling pin, and cookie cutters. I like using a classic dog bone-shaped cookie cutter for basic homemade dog treats and more extravagant ones for special events.
You will want to ensure that all these tools and ingredients are clean and safe for your pet. Be aware that some brands of peanut butter contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which are toxic to your dog. Stick to a natural peanut butter that is unsweetened.
Peanut butter and pumpkin are some of the most popular flavor combinations, but mixing up basic homemade dog treats doesn’t require anything fancy.
The Great Flour Debate
There is some controversy about wheat for dogs. Dogs can safely consume flour unless they have a grain or gluten sensitivity. I use whole wheat flour in all my dog treats, and my pups handle it well.
But for some people, it just seems safer to err on the side of caution and only use beans, peas, oats, or barley flour in their dog treats. If you want to go that route, that’s totally fine.
Despite what people on both sides may say, there’s no right or wrong decision here. Do what seems best for your pet and your budget. Some dogs may be more willing to try new things than others. If you have a picky dog, stick to familiar flavors.
Moderation is Important
I have to tell my dad this every time he visits. He’d give the dogs five treats a day if I let him. Remember that your dogs rely on you to moderate their diets.
In the wild, canines eat huge meals and digest slowly without eating for days. Your pup still has the instinct to over-eat whenever he can. But since he’s also getting fed regularly, he doesn’t need all the extra calories.
Don’t overindulge your pet. One or two homemade dog treats a day is fine. Or, you can make tiny training treats and give him more of that smaller treat.
If you’re baking larger treats but want to break them up to maintain portion sizes, try scoring them with a knife to make it easier to break them into bite-sized pieces. This is especially helpful if you’ve got tiny dogs or if your dog is overweight.
Storing Homemade Treats
Many plain, homemade dog treats can be stored in a jar on the counter easily. Or, re-use an old dog biscuit box. Some recipes call for a glaze or ‘icing’ that is usually not as shelf-stable. Many of these treats should be stored in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
Moist, meaty dog treats should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer. Unfrozen, they should be used within a month unless the recipe says they have a longer or shorter shelf life.
Homemade Dog Treat Recipes
There are so many homemade dog treats to choose from. I prefer these easy-to-store recipes, but there are so many options.
1. Basic Peanut Butter Pumpkin
This recipe from a Pinch of Yum is so easy, and all dogs love the flavor of these tasty treats. There is even an option for a bacon glaze to add extra flavor to these homemade treats. But remember, once you glaze them, they should be kept in the refrigerator.
2. The Easiest Dog Treats
This recipe from Puppy Leaks is simple and basic, with only 3-4 ingredients. I like to use broth instead of water to moisten this dough, but either way, my dogs love them.
This recipe produces simple, tasty treats that hold up well to rolling and cutting into shapes. I can even use some of my larger cookie cutters with this recipe.
3. Basic Beef Biscuit
This simple recipe by Kitchen Confidante made with beef broth is an excellent option for a higher-value treat for your dog. My dogs definitely think they’re getting food from the table.
They’re easy-to-make homemade dog treats and perfect for beginners. But I promise, you’re pups will think you’re a pro!
4. Banana Biscuits
My son loves bananas, but he doesn’t always eat the whole bunch before they transition from “perfect” to “scary.” And sometimes, I’m not up for making more banana bread. Enter these homemade dog treats.
But these banana-peanut butter biscuits from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken are an easy option for using up old bananas and treating the dogs to something fun.
5. Chicken and Beet Biscuits
These bright pink homemade dog treats from Three Little Ferns are delicious. They’re fun and colorful, besides being full of vitamins and minerals. The color makes them perfect for Valentine’s Day and Christmas treats.
6. No Bake Dog Treats
No-bake homemade dog treats can be a great way to make a batch of dog treats for hot summer days. These simple refrigerator treats from Sunny Day Family are a great way to help your pups cool off in the hot weather. No-bake treats are an easy first project for kids as well.
7. No-Bake Pumpkin Treats
I love mixing up these frozen homemade dog treats from Communikait during the hottest summer days. They are so easy to make, with just two ingredients, and so cooling and refreshing to your pups in the summer.
Our dogs have heavy coats, and in the summer, they are panting in the heat. But these yogurty treats are perfect for cooling them off and boosting their nutrients.
8. Bacon Peanut Butter Treats
Dogs may love peanut butter, but they love bacon even more. If you’re looking for a high-value training treat, bake up a big batch of these bacony treats from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
I like to cut them into small shapes, and I have some fantastic vintage mini-cutters that are perfect for the job. But you can also use the scoring technique mentioned above to make your treats easy to break.
9. Chicken and Wild Rice Treats
These are a dog treats that are almost a mini meal. Nourishing chicken and nutrient-dense wild rice make up this truly decadent treat from Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen.
If you’re working within a budget, you can substitute more affordable brown rice for wild rice. These treats are so healthy and nutritious that I will sometimes use them as a replacement meal for my smaller dog’s afternoon feeding, especially if I’m training her.
10. Flea Prevention No-Bake Treats
Coconut oil and brewer’s yeast can help a dog naturally resist fleas. These treats from Nutrition Starts in the Kitchen add those flea-fighting ingredients together to create a simple, two-ingredient treat that dogs actually love.
I was surprised when I first made these treats for my dogs because neither ingredient seems particularly good on its own, but they really do eat them up.
11. Deep-Calm Dog Treats
Some dogs struggle with anxiety. Rescue dogs are often susceptible to stress and uncertainty, especially with new changes at home.
These restful treats from Nellie Bellie combine chamomile and lavender with dog-friendly flavors to create a restful, calming treat.
You can even add a small amount of liquid melatonin to this recipe, in extreme cases, to help a dog whose anxiety is becoming overwhelming. Remember to talk to your vet about appropriate dosing based on your dog’s age and body weight.
12. Pretzel Treats
Pretzel dog treats from the Cookie Rookie don’t even need cookie cutters to look cute. Simply mix up the apple and oat dough, roll it into little ropes, and fold your pretzels. These treats look especially good with a bit of egg, bacon, or another simple, dog-friendly glaze.