by Cate Burnette, RVT
Every dog likes a snack now and then, and, as pet parents, we love giving our furry kids the treats they enjoy. But what do you do if your pooch is overweight, needs a particular diet because of health issues, or you no longer want to feed commercial treats with artificial additives? Some of the best-tasting, most nutritious treats available for dogs can come directly from your kitchen.
If your dog likes the occasional ice cube or ice cream cone, substitute cubes of frozen low-sodium chicken or beef broth as a treat. Pour the broth into an ice cube tray or small muffin tin and freeze. When you’re ready to give the treats, run the bottom of the tray under warm water to loosen the cubes, and let your pup enjoy! The protein, vitamins, and minerals in the broth make a healthy supplement to your pet’s regular diet.
Homemade treats may be the answer for pet parents wanting to keep their dogs from ingesting the additives in commercial treats. Artificial preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxysanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin have all been cited as creating specific problems in animals including organ failure and cancers. Recipes for homemade dog treats can be found online.
Raw or par-boiled vegetables can be a healthy alternative to store-bought treats. Carrots, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, and zucchini are rich in Vitamin A, most of the B-Complex Vitamins, and the minerals your dog needs to stay healthy as he ages.
A piece of fruit daily can replace the artificial sugars found in commercial treats with Vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, anti-oxidants, and natural plant sugars that can help your pooch retain his youthful energy. Some of those fruits include bananas, melons (pulp only), peeled and sliced apples, and blueberries.
If your dog loves commercial chews, small bites of dried meat can be a tasty, nutritious treat for your pet…and you can make them at home. Thinly slice pieces of calf or chicken liver, beef, chicken, or fish and place them in a food dehydrator until they’re totally dry and chewable. As an alternative, lay the slices on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven for 200ºF until the meat is dried. The extra protein, iron, and minerals found in dried meats can be beneficial to your dog’s health.
Most dogs adore the occasional soft- or hard-boiled egg. This small package of pure nutrition not only tastes good to your pets, it also adds immense nutritive value to canine diets. Make sure you remove all bits of shell and leave the eggs unseasoned.
If cooking for your dog at home is just not something you have the time to do, look for all-natural treats made with fresh fruits and vegetables. Manufactured without chemical additives, DOGSTREAT Peanut Butter snacks contain no corn, wheat, or soy that can exacerbate your dog’s allergies. DOG for DOG, manufacturer of DOGSTREAT, was recently awarded the Best New Product Award at the Global Pet Expo 2014. Additionally, when you buy one bag of DOGSTREAT, another bag is donated to local and national animal shelters to help other dogs in need.
Please Note: Even though they may taste good to you, there are some foodstuffs that you should never give as treats to your dogs. Some of those foods include grapes or raisins, onions, avocado, milk products, pitted fruits including peaches and plums, and macadamia nuts. All of these products can result in stomach upset and other more serious symptoms including muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters, vomiting, elevated body temperature, and rapid heart rate. ***Please seek immediate veterinary advice if your pet ingests any of these foods.