If dogs could write a holiday wish list for gifts, it’s almost a guarantee delicious snacks would be at the very top. So this year, consider making homemade dog treats for your dog’s holiday stocking. The following recipes are easy to make, and feature three ingredients or less. While the holidays can be a time to indulge, remember to feed treats in moderation and as a small portion of your dog’s overall diet.
Crispy apple slices
This first treat recipe is as easy as it gets – there is only one ingredient. Slice fresh apples very thinly, making sure to remove all seeds and the stem. Place the apple slices on a baking sheet in one layer, then bake them in a 150 degree F oven for about five or six hours (or until completely dehydrated). Once they are cool, you can share these crunchy snacks with your pup. This treat serves as an alternative to just plain raw apple pieces, which is also a healthy treat for dogs.
Berries and yogurt pupsicles
Even during the chilly winter months, many dogs still enjoy a frosty treat. To make a simple but healthy “pupsicle,” or popsicle for dogs, start by spooning 16 oz. of plain, unsweetened yogurt (regular or Greek) into a mixing bowl. Then fold in a big handful of berries such as blueberries or strawberry pieces. Place the mixture into an ice cube tray or dog treat mold, then freeze for at least four hours. Once frozen, pop out the treats and store in a freezer-safe container for one to two days.
Sweet potato chews
Here’s another one-ingredient recipe that is sure to please your pup. Slice a sweet potato into pieces of 1/3 inch thickness. If you have a large dog, you can cut the sweet potato lengthwise into long, wide strips. For little dogs, cut the sweet potato crosswise for smaller, round coins. Lay the slices onto an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake them at 250 degrees F for about two or three hours until they are dry with crispy edges. Just flip them halfway through baking to ensure they cook evenly. Let the chews cool before serving to your dog.
Canned food crunchies
Canned food is packed with lots of yummy ingredients for your dog, which creates the perfect shortcut for these easy crunchy treats. All you need is one can of loaf-style, healthy dog food. Shake the loaf from the can onto a cutting board. Slice it into ¼ thick slices. For small dogs, cut the slices into little bite-sized pieces. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until crunchy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Pumpkin & peanut butter cookies
For this recipe, you will need 1/2 cup of unsweetened pumpkin puree, ½ cup of plain peanut butter and 1 ¼ cup of whole wheat flour. Mix all three ingredients together until you have a ball of dough. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface until about 1/3 inch thick. Cut out your treats with cookie cutters or use a pizza cutter to make different shapes. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 325 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until crunchy and golden brown. Let treats cool before serving to your dog.
“Keep in mind treats, snacks, food used as bribes for medicine and any other unbalanced supplement food should comprise no more than ten percent of a dog’s daily calories,” says Dr. Susan Wynn, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist with BluePearl in Atlanta.
“Aim for treats the size of a blueberry. When it comes to treats, dogs care more about quantity than size since they swallow them whole anyway,” adds Dr. Wynn, “If you make these treats for your pet, consider breaking or cutting them into smaller pieces.”
For more information on veterinary nutrition, visit our lifelong nutrition blog article.