Dogs are very special to us. They accompany us in the best of times and worst of times with a wagging tail and a spring in their step. While I am not lucky enough to have a dog at the moment, I have been thrilled to be around Green Diva Meg’s dog, Gracie, for some time now. Every Tuesday, Gracie sits by the door as I walk in and waits for me to give her a treat. I’m sure many of you readers have dogs that have similar rituals when you come home.
I’m writing this post because I got to thinking: we spend so much time being conscious consumers. We look at food labels, we buy locally, humane, organic and fair-trade food. So why do we feed our dogs with packaged, processed foods that we so knowingly avoid for ourselves? For this reason, I have researched the health benefits of baking your dog homemade dog treats instead of buying them from a store. You love homemade desserts, right? Why shouldn’t your dog. Anyways, here are some reasons why baking your canine friend homemade cookies is a pretty great idea.
1. Homemade Dog Treats are Safer
Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on the back of a bag of dog cookies? It’s pretty appalling to see so man ingredients you have never actually heard of. By purchasing homemade dog treats (or making your own), dog owners have more control and options about what to feed their pets and what is actually going into their dog’s snacks. Homemade treats can and should be prepared chemical-free. Chemicals and preservatives found in commercialized dog treats can actually harm dogs according to research. Some studies suggest that the chemicals found in many commercial treats, snacks and food products, impede good behavior, due to the way the chemicals interact with a dog’s delicate brain. In some studies, researchers have also found that chemicals contained in commercialized dog snacks can even cause aggressive behavior. Some of these chemicals and preservatives are not approved for human consumption, so what makes them any better for dogs?
Some chemicals to watch out for are BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Sodium Metabisulfite and TBHQ. For a complete list, check out this article called “Killing Me Softly: The Truth Behind Pet Treat Labels.” Many of these chemical ingredients are known carcinogens and can also cause liver and kidney problems, loss of consciousness, brain damage, and life-threatening asthma. These chemicals are also used to manufacture rubber and petroleum products, including embalming fluid. Yuck!
2. Homemade Dog Treats are Healthier
A lot of different dog treats are full of saturated fats. Homemade treats are made with ingredients that contain less fat than store-bought snacks. Giving your dog fat-free or reduced-fat snacks will not only help your dog have a healthier heart, but will also help decrease the chances of him becoming obese later in his life. Many homemade snacks can also be made with ingredients that help keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean. Homemade treats can also include ingredients that enhance your dog’s shiny coat. Healthy dog treats also mean fewer clean-up due to messes and an overall healthier digestive tract.
3. Homemade Dog Treats are Cheaper
You save money every week by cooking for yourself instead of going out to eat, right? Baking homemade treats is also an inexpensive option to provide your pet with a little snack. It always saves money to buy ingredients in bulk or use ingredients that are commonly found in your pantry. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised at how much money you saved by making your own.
4. Homemade Dog Treats are Tastier
These treats are so healthy, you can chow down on them with your pet. Honestly, the fact that they are made from common ingredients around your kitchen makes them all the more accessible. Anything homemade tastes better in general. Which would you prefer? A homemade batch of cookies or some hard and processed store bought cookies?
Green Diva Gina’s Delicious Dog Treats
Use these common kitchen ingredients to bake your pet (and yourself) a yummy snack!
2 cups whole wheat flour or rice flour
1 cup rolled oats, regular or quick
1 tbsp dried parsley or 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp almond milk
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy or plain (or any nut butter you have)
½ cup + 1 tbsp cold water, enough to make a cohesive dough
¼ cup ground flaxseed
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets. Mix together all of the dry ingredients (flour, oats, parsley, salt and flax). Add the eggs, peanut butter and almond milk, stirring to combine; the mixture will be crumbly. Add enough water to bring the dough together. depending on the season, you may need to add a bit more (winter), or a bit less (summer). To make biscuits using a dog-bone cutter, roll the dough about ¼” thick, and cut with a 3½” cutter (or the size of your choice since your dog won’t care haha). Gather and re-roll the scraps, and continue to cut biscuits until you’ve used all the dough. To make dog “cookies,” drop the dough in walnut-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten them to about ¼”. Bake the biscuits for about 40 minutes, baking the smaller cookies for a shorter amount of time. When finished, the biscuits will be dark golden brown, and will be dry and crisp all the way through. Remove the biscuits from the oven, and place on cooling racks to set.
Written by Green Diva Gina (Gina Gioldassis) for TheGreenDivas.
[Editor’s Note: If you want to eliminate unhealthy ingredients and chemical additives from your household for good, click here to sign up for a Naturally Savvy Get Healthy Challenge.]
Image: Terence T.S. Tam