How to Make the Best Homemade Dog Treats

Like all dog owners, I love to spoil and reward my dog Kyra with treats. Luckily for me, she’s not picky…

My dog, Kyra, getting excited about a special treat…lettuce. 

As you can see in the video above, Kyra isn’t the least bit picky. She’ll lose it over a piece of lettuce just as easily as for a store-bought treat.

I use treats to reward her good behaviour, teach her new tricks, and just to share special moments with her. In all honesty, Kyra probably gets too many treats, so it’s great that she gets just as excited about a piece of carrot or lettuce as she does for a store-bought treat.

Making homemade treats doesn’t have to be complicated – it really can be as simple as some cut up vegetables. But if you want to get a bit more creative, there are lots of easy, tasty and fun dog treat recipes that you can try out at home.

Why Make Your Own Dog Treats?

Making your own dog treats is not only easy, but there are many other benefits as well.

All dogs love treats. Use nuts for simple, homemade treats.

Store-bought treats are not cheap, so making homemade treats can be a great way to keep your dog budget in check. You can get even more creative and use leftovers to save even more and reduce your food waste.

When you make dog treats at home, you have complete control over what goes into those treats. Store-bought treats may contain harmful preservatives and other undesirable ingredients, so homemade treats are a healthier alternative. You can choose natural, whole foods and avoid problem ingredients, which is especially helpful if your dog has any dietary sensitivities.

The idea of switching your dog to homemade food can seem daunting, but homemade treats are a great way to dip your toe into the world of homemade dog food. Making homemade dog treats can be so simple, there’s really no reason not to try it. Read on to find out the easiest ways to make homemade dog treats, as well as some fun recipes.

What You Need to Get Started

You don’t need any special equipment to get started making homemade treats for your dogs. To give it a shot, you really just need the basics – a knife, cutting board, storage container and maybe a pot or pan.

Your dog will appreciate the time and effort you put into making homemade treats – not matter how simple the recipe!

If you’re more experienced or more adventurous in the kitchen, there are a few tools that can make it easier and more fun to make homemade dog treats:

Dehydrator: There are tonnes of great recipes for dehydrated dog treats, and they store really well, so it’s a worthwhile investment if you really get into making homemade treats and plan to make large batches at once.

Food Processor: Another worthwhile investment if you find yourself making lots of homemade treats, a food processor is great for doughs and purees, and can save you time when making large batches.

Molds: There are so many fun cutters and molds out there that make for cute, customized dog treats.

Choosing Ingredients for Homemade Dog Treats:

Making homemade dog treats gives you complete control over the ingredients, but it’s important to know what foods are safe for dogs, and what foods are toxic. Here’s how to choose the best, healthiest ingredients for your homemade dog treats:

Whole grains can be a healthy base for many homemade dog treat recipes. 

Use Freely:

  • Whole grains like whole wheat flour, rolled oats and wheat germ.
  • Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, especially berries, carrots, apples, sweet potato and melons.
  • Pureed foods without added sugar, like natural peanut butter, pumpkin puree or baby food.

Many foods are healthy for dogs, but some are not. Be sure to research which foods, like onions and garlic, are toxic to dogs before making homemade foods. 

Use with Caution:

  • Meats. Use cooked, lean meats like chicken and beef, and avoid raw meat and fatty cuts like bacon. If using leftovers, be sure to rinse off any marinades or spices before using in your dog’s treats.
  • Dairy. Many dogs, like many people, are sensitive to lactose. Use caution with dairy products, introduce slowly, and eliminate them if your dog experiences any digestive issues. Avoid dairy products with added sugar, like yogurt and ice cream.
  • Prepared foods, like baby food or purees. Choose foods with all-natural ingredients and avoid added sugars and preservatives.

Avoid:

  • Ingredients that are toxic to dogs, like garlic, onions, grapes, tomatoes and chocolate.
  • Sugar, salt and spices. Rinse leftovers and make plain, natural treats for your dog.
  • Any ingredient that your dog is sensitive to; for example, avoid recipes with flour and oats if your dog is on a grain-free diet.

No Time to Cook? Raw, One-ingredient treats

Although there are lots of creative dog treat recipes out there (see below!), making homemade treats really doesn’t need to be complicated. You can still reap all the benefits of homemade treats – healthier, cheaper, and more fun – with one-ingredient treats and leftovers.

Cut up carrots make a quick and easy homemade dog treat. 

How To Make One-Ingredients Treats

There are lots of ways to prepare simple, one-ingredient treats for your dog.

Slice: By far the easiest method, and one I rely on a lot. You simply keep a container of raw, cut up favourites on hand in the fridge. Kyra always has a container of carrots in the fridge for her walks.

Freeze: Many ingredients, like watermelons, make great frozen treats for hot days. In fact, plain old ice cubes are one of Kyra’s all-time favourite snacks.

Bake: If you don’t mind a bit of cooking, many simple treats can be baked before being stored in the fridge.

Blend: If you’re feeling really adventurous, many ingredients can be blended before being baked, frozen or dehydrated.

Dehydrated: Many ingredients, like meat and sweet potatoes, can be dehydrated to make great, portable snacks that keep well.

One-Ingredient Treat Ideas

The possibilities are endless when it comes to one-ingredient dog treats. Start by letting your dog try different leftover foods you have on hand and see what they like best (just be sure to check that the ingredient is safe for dogs before giving it a try).

A handful of peas, fresh or frozen, makes a tasty addition to your dog’s dinner, or a quick and low-cal training treat. 

To get you started, here are some ideas for simple, one-ingredient dog treats you can try at home:

Vegetables: 

  • Cut up carrots, celery, cucumbers and broccoli.
  • Cooked green beans, sweet potato and peas.

Fruit:

  • Frozen berries, bananas and melons.
  • Cut up apples, pears and peaches.

Homemade jerky is actually pretty simple to make, and your dog will go crazy for it. 

Meat:

  • Cooked chicken or beef.
  • Dehydrated beef or liver.
  • Pureed meat-based baby food.

Dairy: 

  • Cut up cheese.
  • Frozen sugar-free yogurt cubes.

As you can see, replacing store-bought treats with cheaper, healthier homemade treats can be as simple as cutting up some carrots. Once you’ve got the hang of one-ingredient homemade treats, consider trying some of the more advanced recipes below (don’t worry, they’re still really easy!).

Master the Basics: Customizable Recipes

Once you’ve gained some confidence by making one-ingredient dog treats, you can try your hand at some more complicated recipes.

The two recipes below are great starter recipes for homemade dog treats – they are simple, use minimal ingredients and don’t require any special equipment. The best part is, they can be easily customized with any of the extra ingredients mentioned above, depending on what you have on hand.

The Easiest 2-Ingredient Baked Dog Treats

These simple dog biscuits, inspired by this recipe on DOG-I-Y, are a way to try your hand at homemade dog treats. With only 2 ingredients and endless ways to customize, it’s a simple recipe to try as you get started making homemade dog treats.

Ingredients:

  •  2 cups whole wheat flour
  •  2 (4oz) jars pureed baby food (ie. sweet potato, beef, etc)

Instructions:

  1. Mix flour and puree, adding extra flour or water as needed to achieve a stiff dough.
  2. Roll the dough on a floured surface until about ¼” thick.
  3. Cut into squares and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.
  • Treats will keep for a few weeks. Baked treats can be frozen beyond that point.
  • Storing the treats in a paper bag will keep them from getting soft.

Simple Frozen 2-Ingredient Dog Treats

It doesn’t get any easier than this! Simply mix and freeze to have tasty, healthy treats on hand at all times.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • ½ cup frozen fruit (berries, banana or melon) OR 1 (4oz) jar of pureed baby food

Instructions:

  1. Mix yogurt and fruit/puree until combined.
  2. Spoon mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze until solid.
  • Store in an airtight container or plastic bag in the freezer for a few months.
  • You can also freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet or dish, and cut into cubes once frozen.

The Best Dog Treat Recipes Online

If you are a more experienced or adventurous baker, there are endless creative recipes for homemade dog treats that you can try. Below, some of the best homemade dog treat recipes online.

Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries! You can make them for your dog as a tasty homemade treat. 

Sweet Potato Fries 

Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries? Your dog will love them too, and this recipe from BeaglesAndBargains.com is healthy and super easy, with only a handful of healthy ingredients.

Breath-Freshening Dog Treats

This recipe, from HealthStartsInTheKitchen.com, offers the of all of the benefits of homemade dog treats with a bonus – it kills dog-breath!

Gourmet Dog Biscuits

Bake your own gourmet dog biscuits with this recipe from the King Arthur Flour company’s blog. Store-bought treats don’t stand a chance!

Grain-Free Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Grain-free dogs shouldn’t miss out on homemade dog treats! Follow this simple recipe from UrbanBlissLife.com, and in less than half an hour you’ll have healthy and tasty homemade grain-free dog treats.

Homemade Dog Jerky

Dog jerky is incredibly easy to make, and you can use a variety of meats, from beef to chicken to salmon. Rover’s tutorial shows you just how easy it is to make homemade jerky dog treats.

These tasty and impressive dog treat recipes are just the tip of the iceberg – you can find enough recipes and ideas online to keep you and your dog busy baking and tasting for years to come!

Homemade Dog Treats

Once you start making homemade treats, your dog will be begging for more!

Making homemade dog treats can be incredibly easy or endlessly creative, but no matter your kitchen skills, you can make simple, inexpensive and healthy dog treats at home yourself.

Whether it’s cut up carrots or gourmet biscuits, making homemade dog treats is a great way to save on overpriced store-bought treats. It also lets you control what ingredients are in your dog’s treats, and avoid problem ingredients.

Homemade dog treats are a great way to save money, reduce food waste, and do something special for your dog. Trust me, your dog will appreciate it.

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