Barking up the right tree: Creating dog treats even a human would love

Some benefits of making your own dog treats are the factors of cost and quality. Though it will cost you some time, making your own treats will save you money. Another plus is that you know what exactly what your dog is ingesting. Even though a product might tout that it is safe and "natural", it could also contain chemical preservatives that aren't so great for your dog. Basically, you should use the same quality products as you would if you were making food for yourself (unless you count fast food as a healthful meal). Purchase natural ingredients without added sugars, salt and preservatives.


The following recipe for canine cookies are incredibly easy to prepare and are actually pretty tasty (for human taste buds). A batch of these would also make a great holiday gift for those dog lovers in your life. But please learn from my rude dog and don't hog all of them before you give them to your four-legged friend.


Peanut Butter Pumpkin Canine Cookies


Adapted from DogTreatKitchen.com


Makes about 4 dozen cookies


2 cups whole wheat flour


1 cup cornmeal


1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 teaspoon salt


2 eggs


3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree


1/4 cup peanut butter


1/2 cup water


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a few cookie sheets (2-3).


2. In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, cinnamon and salt until combined. In another smaller bowl, stir together the eggs, pumpkin and peanut butter.


3. Fold the wet mixture into the dry until it forms a dough (you may need to use your hands for this after awhile to get it to mix completely). Add the water to moisten the dough a bit.


4. On a floured surface, roll out some of the dough to 1/4" thickness, cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place the shapes on the cookie sheets. Repeat this process until all of the dough has been used. Alternately, if you don't want to roll them out, you can roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, place them on the cookie sheets and slightly flatten the dough with a fork.


5. Bake for 20 min. (25 min. for rolled cookies) in the preheated oven, until nicely browned and firm. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Why am I writing about dog treats in a section normally reserved for human food? If you remember, last week I featured a recipe for pumpkin caramel blondies. Fresh out of the oven, my boyfriend and I sampled them the night I made them. I was very happy with the outcome and couldn't wait to share them with friends. The morning after I made them, I photographed a few to use in this section and put the plate of the entire batch on the stovetop. A few hours later, I hear a gasp come from the kitchen area and I find my boyfriend in the kitchen holding an empty plate next to a guilty-looking dog. Apparently, my dog decided to have the whole batch (minus two) to herself. Hey, at least she licked the plate clean.

A week later, I was trying to come up with something to write about for this section. I turned to my boyfriend for inspiration and he reminded me of the pumpkin blondie situation (that we now laugh at) and suggested I make something similar that would be safe enough for the dog to enjoy. Thus, these dog treats were born.

First, I wanted to research what foods were safe for dogs. Everyone knows that chocolate is a big no-no, but the ASPCA also lists grapes, raisins, yeast dough, raw meat or eggs, Xylitol (an artificial sweetener), onions, garlic, and cultured dairy products on their toxic foods list. I'd also suggest checking with your vet as to what foods are okay for your pup, especially if they have food allergies. Believe it or not, like us, dogs can also have allergic reactions to wheat, nuts, dairy and soy, among other things.

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