Thursday, April 3, 2014

Homemade Dog Treats

Have you ever walked into a pet store and found the dog food are more expensive than a night on the town? There are plenty of dog treats out there boasting healthy ingredients and no preservatives but when they cost an arm and a leg, are they really worth it in the end? When I came across this post by MyBakingAddiction, I decided to put them to the test. Now I don't have a dog myself so I asked 13 of my canine-owning friends if they wouldn't mind letting their pooches in on the taste testing. Lets meet the judges:

1. Gatsby - Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix (or "cockapoo")
2. Charkoota - Dutch Shepherd/Cattle mix
3. Nugget - Blue Heeler
4. Milo - Labradoodle
5. Blue and Heidi - Weimaraner
6. Linus - Pembroke Welsh Corgi 
7. Buddy - Boxer
8. Piper - Golden Retriever
9. Peaches - Chihuahua
10. Maggie and Baloo - Black and Tan Bloodhounds
11. Teva - Bernese Mountain Dog
12. Baxter - Boston Terrier
13. Luigi - Maltese

So as you can see, we have a range of breeds and while every dog is different, hopefully this variety will show you how similar they are when it comes to devouring these treats.

If you want to make all three kinds of treats, you'll need:

* Pumpkin puree (make sure it's not pumpkin spice blend or anything that might have nutmeg)
* Eggs
* Oats
* Whole wheat flour (or you can use brown rice flour or gluten free flour)
* All natural peanut butter
* Cinnamon
* Canned sweet potato
* Grated carrots
* Unsweetened apple sauce
* (optional but highly recommended) Salt

For all recipes, preheat your oven to 350 and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

#1: Peanut Butter Pumpkin Treats

In a medium bowl combine:
3 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 C of oats
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt if you want to extend the shelf life. If you don't, they'll get moldy in about 3 days.

In a larger bowl, whisk together:
2 eggs
1 cup of pumpkin puree (I used an entire can), and
3 Tablespoons of peanut butter

Combine the two bowls (it says wet ingredients into the dry but I did it the other way around and it was fine).

Flour your countertop and roll out the dough to 1/2" thick. I only have Michigan-shaped cookie cutters so I made about 2 dozen lower peninsulas.

Place them in the oven for 30-35 minutes until their golden brown and let them cool before giving to your pup!

Sooo... what did the judges think?

Piper liked these the best because they were the biggest and had peanut butter in them. And proceeded to lick the floor.
Most owners said their dogs needed these to be broken up, so keep that in mind if you have a larger cookie cutter!

#2: Sweet Potato Biscuits
For these you'll need:

In one bowl, combine:
1 cup of canned sweet potato (note you may want to mash it up, in case it's not already)
1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp of salt, if you want to make them last longer

Once the dough has formed, roll into small balls and press down until they're 1/4" thick on the parchment paper. Bake until they're golden brown (approximately 30-40 minutes).

Judges verdict?

Milo almost ate the hand holding the treat, that's how bad he wanted it!
Maggie and Baloo were the most enthusiastic about these. Baloo even ate it on the spot, instead of taking it to another room to eat by herself!
The ball treats were Peaches favorite.
Heidi and Blue Hoovered this up faster than the other two treats.
Nugget didn't swallow but inhaled the treats!

#3: Apple Carrot Treats

And finally, the piece de resistance! Here you'll need one bowl containing:

1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of grated carrots (about 2 big ones)
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp of salt for a longer shelf life

Note that these might be more chewy than crunchy, as the carrots and apple sauce make them pretty moist. Once they're mixed and formed into a dough, roll them into small balls and place on a cookie sheet. I attempted to use the upper peninsula cookie cutter and found it very difficult to keep them in tact, because they were so wet. Still, it's not impossible!

Have them be 1/4" thick, bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, and let them cool before eating.

Did the judges rule in their favor?

Gatsby immediately gobbled down this treat first.
Linus found them to be a bit chewy for his little mouth.
Teva liked all three but these were the favorite, perhaps because they were appropriately treat-sized.
And Charkoota, Baxter, and Luigi loved them all!

There was one pup who didn't like any of the treats and that was Buddy, the boxer. His owner said he's a picky eater so if your dog is too, go with ingredients they're used to.

1. I didn't put any salt in any of them, which would have helped them last a little longer.

2. I also didn't refrigerate them after they were made and after a few days, they were quick to get moldy. On the other hand, there aren't any preservatives in them. On the other other hand... eww...

"I was surprised by how quickly (he/she) ate them."
"They were (licking the floor/licking the bag/guarding the bag/staring at the bag) for more."
"My dog was more interested in these than store-bought treats."

One comment I was not expecting was from an owner (and a vet): "I do applaud the lack of corn in the recipe. Corn products are common in dog foods/treats and can contribute to deadly gastric events." I had no idea corn was so bad for dogs!

Overall, I think it's safe to say these were a huge hit! I had no idea they would go over so well... my only wish is that they lasted longer. If you do decide to make these, keep them in the freezer and let me know how your four-legged friends like them!

TOTAL COSTS: About $30 for all the ingredients (prices from Vons)
* $6.49 for pumpkin puree
* $2.59 for eggs
* $1.99 for oats
* $4.39 for whole wheat flour
* $2.69 for all natural peanut butter
* $4.79 for cinnamon
* $2.29 for canned sweet potato
* $.99/lb for grated carrots (you only need 2)
* $2.59 for unsweetened apple sauce
* $.99 for salt

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: Varied based on treat
Overall, I'd say 45 minutes to an hour to make and bake a treat

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): Varied based on treat
Overall, I'd say a 2 out of 5... it's no different than baking (and my husband even ate one and said it was delicious!). However, if you're going to make the carrot/applesauce treat, don't use a long cookie cutter like I did, unless you want a mess!

And to make a small pet plea - my cat underwent emergency surgery to have string removed from his intestines. If you want to watch an adorable video and maybe get these dog treats yourself, please visit our GoFundMe page for Batman:

And special thanks to Kyle and Megan Fryling, Mike & Beth Dominiak, Kurt Muller, Jaime Barrett, Darcy Cunningham, Jennifer Forte, Gail Martin, Laura Jimenez, Holly Jensen, Brandon and Kellyn Hazen, and Theresa Gibbons for letting me try these treats on your pups!


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