Most of us pet lovers give our four-legged buddies snacks and treats, especially when good manners have been shown or simply because they are so cute and lovable! Though brought to light last year that commercial treats made in China were causing illness and death to our beloved pooches, these treats are still being sold here, and dogs continue to become ill and even die.
So, instead of always looking for the country of origin on packages of treats, why not make them yourself? This way, you can be assured that what’s going in your pet’s tummy won’t cause harm. Treats are easy to make, cost less than most commercial products and can be adjusted to your pal’s taste and health issues, if any. It’s best to use organic products if possible, but if you can’t, be assured that what you’ve made is better than treats found on most store shelves.
To get you started, here are two recipes: one for cats and one for dogs. Most cats adore catnip, and I haven’t met a dog who didn’t love peanut butter.
CHEWY CAT TREATS (about 50 small treats)
1 large egg; 1 4-oz jar chicken and brown-rice baby food (or something meaty like canned wet cat food); 1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped; 2 teaspoons olive oil; 2 tablespoons water; 1 cup brown-rice flour; 1/2 cup cooked white (or brown) rice; 1 tablespoon catnip.
(1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (2) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. (3) In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, baby food (or wet cat food), parsley, olive oil and water. (4) Stir in brown-rice flour, cooked rice and catnip. The mixture will be thick but spreadable. (5) Spread mixture on the prepared baking sheet, creating a rectangle that is about 1/3 inch thick. (6) Bake for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest until cool enough to handle and then slice the soft dough into bite-sized pieces. (7) Bake for another 8 minutes. (8) Cool completely, break apart and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
PEANUT BUTTER PUMPKIN DOG TREATS (24 small treats)
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree; 2 eggs; 1/2 cup oats (if your dog is on a grain-free diet, substitute 1/4 cup grain-free flour); 3 cups whole-wheat flour, brown-rice flour or gluten-free flour; 3 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional). Note: Cinnamon is fine to use in recipes for dogs; however, do not use a pumpkin-spice blend or anything that could contain nutmeg. It is toxic to dogs and even in small amounts can make them sick.
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (2) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. (3) In a small bowl, stir together the flour, oats and cinnamon. (4) In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin and peanut butter until combined. (5) Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones. (6) Place dough on a floured surface and roll it, making a rectangle that is 1/2 inch thick; cut into 24 equal pieces. (The dough will be sticky, so dust flour on your hands and the rolling pin.) (7) Place pieces on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden brown. (8) Cool thoroughly on baking racks. (They will harden as they cool.)
One caveat: Because of potential tummy troubles (vomiting, diarrhea), slowly introduce any new treat to your buddy. First give only one half of the treat; if no problems occur, then give a full treat the next day and slowly increase the amount over six or seven days. If you change the recipe to suit your pet’s taste or health issues, repeat this process.
As a final note, please stop by and see us tomorrow at Walgreen’s (we’ll be back at Walmart on Dec. 21). We’ll be on the south-facing parking lot from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., selling our usual goodies: sweatshirts, hoodies, long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, caps, totes and more. (The holidays are fast approaching, so this is a good time to buy gifts for loved ones.) Our ever-popular four-legged volunteer, Ki the Kissing Pooch, will also be in attendance to greet all his new and old friends.
This week’s article was contributed by Betty Duncan, a member of the CAPS board of directors.