Imagine if you had to eat the same meal day in and day out. Our pets deserve a little something different every now and then.
That’s why this week – we’ve put together a recipe roundup featuring healthy homemade treats that dogs and cats will absolutely love you for! We’ve got three for the pups and three for the kittens.
Why You Should Care About Quality Treats
Maybe you’ve never thought about the quality of the food and treats you give your pets. But it’s actually very important.
I’ve got a friend who works as a veterinarian. When she was in school they examined different types of dog food by dissolving them and found some nasty stuff inside like hair, feathers and bits of bone. These were very recognizable brands you’ll find in every grocery store.
A lot of pet food and treats might list a certain animal by-product or “crude protein.” Which is kind of like the pink slime meat you hear about in human food – except even worse.
When you see something like that in the ingredients it basically means ground up whatever – including slaughterhouse waste product and some even say euthanized cats and dogs are used too. It’s kept intentionally vague so it could be just about anything.
Pet health expert Karen Becker has some good advice when it comes to shopping for quality food and pet treats. She says look for specific types of meat on the label – like chicken, lamb or beef. Read her article and see her video at Mercola.com for more.
The I Love Dogs Site also has a list of “5 Ingredients You Never Want to Find in Your Dog’s Food”:
- Propylene Glycol
- Corn Syrup/Corn
- “By Product”
Of course, if you really want to know what your dog or cat is getting in their treats – make them yourself!
Let’s take a look at the recipes we found…
1. Peanut Butter Cookies for Dogs (and You)
I’ve yet to meet a dog that dislikes peanut butter. Have you ever put some into one of those rubber Kong things? Your dog will be busy for hours.
So peanut butter “cookies” for man’s best friend are bound to be a winner.
There are a ton of great recipes for this popular type of homemade doggie treat. One that caught our eyes comes from A Cozy Kitchen. Blogger Adrianna used extra virgin coconut oil to make these treats. She’s right on when she says coconut oil is “awesome for dogs and humans alike.”
Other ingredients she uses are oats, honey, flour and chicken broth. Otherwise it’s a lot like making any sort of cookie dough for cutouts.
Presentation may not be super important to your puppy – but using fun cutouts, like dog-bone shapes, makes a great finishing touch.
These cookies are good enough for humans to snack on too. Believe it or not – people in the comments for this recipe say their families keep eating all the dog treats!
- Get the full recipe from A Cozy Kitchen
2. Homemade Chicken Jerky for Dogs
My mutt, Webster, loves jerky. The people food kind or the pet food kind – doesn’t matter.
I noticed those kinds of treats were hard to find in stores for awhile. Turns out there was a major recall on jerky products for pets in 2013 after thousands of animals got sick and more than 580 died from eating products made in China. The FDA sent out warning letters to a lot of manufacturers.
One big problem – pet food manufacturers are not required to list the country of origin on their labels. So it was hard for consumers to know exactly what they were giving their pets.
That’s another good reason to make DIY dog treats like these. This recipe has ONLY ONE INGREDIENT…chicken breasts.
That’s literally all you need. You don’t have to have a food dehydrator either. They can be made in the oven by simply baking them at a low temperature for several hours – depending on the meat’s thickness. Most people make slices that are about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick.
You can find detailed, step-by-step instructions for making chicken jerky dog treats at Just Jerky Treats. You could also try a similar method to make sweet potato chews for your dog. Visit The Bark.com for more on that.
Keep in mind that the shelf life for this jerky is somewhat short. You can add lemon juice as a natural preservative to extend it a couple of extra days, or store them in the fridge – especially if they are still sort of soft and chewy. Make smaller batches that you think you dog will eat up in about a week.
Check out this Video to Watch How It’s Done
3. Doggie Meatloaf Muffins with Mashed Potato Icing
It looks like a cupcake. It’s made of meat. If you want to make your furry pal think he woke up in Doggie Heaven – try making some of these.
Dogs love people food. The truth is – dogs have some of the same nutritional needs as we do. And likewise – it’s okay for dogs to eat something a bit more decadent now and then.
These Meatloaf Muffins are packed with protein and they also contain some Parmesan cheese. You might be wondering if it’s okay to give dogs cheese. According to dog expert Ceasar Milan it is – as long as your dog isn’t lactose intolerant and you only give them cheese in moderation. Too much cheese – and more often milk – could make dogs nauseous.
We found this recipe from the Doggy Dessert Chef. She also has a similar recipe for Parmesan mini meatballs that might be a little easier to make and would be ideal for smaller dogs. Plus, this site also offers a list of foods to avoid giving your dog.
- View the entire recipe for Meatloaf Muffins on Doggy Desert Chef
4. Salmon and Catnip Croutons for Cats
Now the majority of dogs will eat just about anything. Cats tend to be a bit more finicky. But the following recipes will surely have your feline friends licking off their whiskers.
How about a crunchy treat that includes some fish flavor as well as irresistible catnip? Catnip is an herb that’s a member of the mint family. Cat’s love this stuff.
But there’s a difference between smelling and eating catnip. Most cats go bonkers when they inhale the aroma of catnip. They jump and roll around like happy little kittens. Interestingly – eating catnip seems to have the opposite effect. It makes cats chill out.
These homemade croutons for cats takes a can of either salmon or tuna. Then you mix the meat in a dough made with coconut flour, olive oil and an egg. Plus, the dried catnip – which you can order online here at Natural Healthy Concepts. Pet Guard Catnip is grown without any pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Becky, the blogger at The Cookie Rookie, made these treats for her cat after coming back from a Jamaican vacation. Apparently, she forgot her cat’s birthday and wanted to make it up to him.
- Get the complete recipe for Catnip Croutons from The Cookie Rookie
Watch this Video for More on Cats and Catnip
5. Tuna Heart Cat Treats
Show your cat some love with these chewy snacks that also have catnip as one of the ingredients.
In fact, a lot of the ingredients in this recipe are similar to the one above. However, these treats are more like little tuna fish cookies – bite-sized morsels of goodness made from tiny dough balls.
The folks at PawesomeCats.com also make cute heart-shaped thumbprints in the treats. I’m sure your cat will appreciate the extra effort. According to the author, you can store them in the fridge and they’ll keep for about 10 days.
If you’re cat doesn’t seem to react to the catnip – don’t be too surprised. About 75% of cats are affected but the other quarter don’t react at all. It seems to be an inherited sensitivity. But if it doesn’t affect your cat – it might affect you! Catnip may have a naturally sedative effect on humans, which is why you can get Catnip Dietary Supplements.
- Visit Pawesomecats.com to get the complete Tuna Heart Treats recipe
6. Spinach and Chicken Cat Treats
Cats are meat eaters and so are dogs. But they can benefit from the healthy stuff in many vegetables too. Take the green spinach in these cat treats for example…
Sarah Lipoff from PopSugar Pets used all organic ingredients to make this recipe – from the chicken to the spinach and oats, and yes, organic dried catnip too.
After mixing all her ingredients together to form a dough, Sarah rolls it out and cuts the dough into treat-sized shapes using a pizza-cutter.
One important note – If your cat has a history of urinary tract issues, you should avoid giving it spinach. Otherwise spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals as well as glycoclycerolipids, which could help protect your cat’s digestive system.
If your cat doesn’t like chicken – you can use tuna or salmon instead.
- Get the complete recipe for Spinach and Chicken Cat Treats at PopSugar
Got Your Own Ideas for Healthy Pet Treats?
Tell us about them in the comments below and leave a link if you have one!
We’d also like to hear your thoughts on feeding your dogs and cats a healthy diet. What do you do? Anyone out there make their own pet food?
Natural Healthy Concepts offers a variety of natural pet products – including supplements for animals with specific nutrition needs as well as digestive enzymes for pets, grooming products and more! Order them for your pets today and get free shipping anywhere in the U.S.