Thursday, May 3, 2012

5 Healthy, Homemade Dog Treat Recipes

Pampering your pet can be healthy with these healthy, homemade dog treats.

By Leah Zerbe 

Save money and your dog's health with these preservative-free, natural treats.
More and more Americans are tuning in to the food system, trying to avoid nasty ingredients like artificial ingredients. And increasingly, people are looking harder at what's best for their four-legged family members, too.

Healthy dog treats are a great starting point because you can easily whip up good-for-Fido treats in your kitchen. While these recipes are intended for preparation in a food dehydrator, which can help retain treats more nutrients, you can use your oven set on a low temperature and get a similar dehydrating effect.
Use healthy, fresh, whole ingredients to create healthy dog snacks free of additives and preservatives using these recipes from Excalibur Dehydrators.

Chicken Jerky Strips
These all-natural chicken jerky strips make the perfect snack for your dog, but they're not just for canines—you can eat them yourself! To make processing easier, pop the meat into the freezer 15 minutes before slicing it, and slice it thin!

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into strips about ¼ to 1/8 inch thick
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon salt
Dog-friendly seasonings, such as parsley, rosemary, and sage
Rinse off chicken breast and remove any fat. Slice the chicken with the grain. Next, coat the chicken slices with your dog-friendly seasonings.

Place the chicken breast strips in an even layer across the entire the tray, leaving an equal amount of space between pieces and making sure that they do not touch each other. This is so air can flow between them while they are drying out, which helps dehydrate them.

Once the strips are all set out, place the trays in the food dehydrator, turn it on, and set the temperature for 140 degrees. It will probably take between 3 and 12 hours for the chicken to fully dry, depending on how thick you cut your slices and the exact temperature of your food dehydrator. Check the strips once every hour after the first hour. To do that, simply open up the tray and take one slice out; cut it open with a sharp knife and examine the inside. You should see no moisture at all, and if it is properly dried, the chicken will have the same color throughout. If it is not finished, put it back in for another hour. Once it gets close, start checking once every half hour.

(In an oven, bake the chicken strips at 200 degrees for approximately 2 hours.)
Once your chicken jerky is done, store it in sealed containers; zip-locking bags work great for this. Write the date you made it on them. You can also store the finished product in the refrigerator for an even longer shelf life. There, you're done. Enjoy your healthy snacks!

Vegetarian Treats
Substitute just about any fruit or vegetable in this great vegetarian dog-treat recipe to add variety. This recipe uses an egg as a binding agent, but if you want to make these treats vegan, just mix the dough longer and omit the egg.

2½ cups flour
¾ cup dry milk powder
½ cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 vegetable bouillon cubes, dissolved in ¾ cup boiling water
½ cup carrots, green beans, apples, or blueberries
1 egg (optional)

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and form into a ball. On a flour-dusted cutting board, roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thick.
Cut with bone-shaped cookie cutter or any cutter shape your pet will like.
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, approximately 6 to 8 hours.
These treats should be very dry, so add time as necessary.
Sunflower Treats
A popular treat for horses, your dog and cat can enjoy these, too!

¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 cups flour
½ cup chopped apples
¼ cup carrots, peas, or other vegetables
¼ cup oats, ground to a powder
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup molasses

Combine all ingredients but molasses in a large bowl; add molasses and work in until dough is stiff. Additional oats may be added to make the dough stiff.
Roll out dough and cut into shapes or squares
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, for approximately 4 hours.
These treats should be very dry, so add time as necessary.

Sweet Potato Dog Chews
This super-simple chewy dog treat is packed full of vitamins!

2 to 3 organic sweet potatoes

Thoroughly wash and peel sweet potatoes. Slice the sweet potato into ¼-inch slices. You can also cut down the middle lengthwise and slice into ¼-inch strips.
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, about 6 to 8 hours for a chewy texture.
For crunchier treats, dehydrate longer until they have the consistency you like.

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
A perfect protein-packed snack your dog absolutely will not refuse!

1½ cups water
½ cup oil
3 Tablespoons natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup oats
¼ cup Honey Crunch Wheat Germ

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, oats, and wheat germ. Stir in oil, peanut butter, vanilla, and water.
Knead till smooth, adding more flour or water as needed. Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Shape into bars or cut with bone-shaped cookie cutter or any cutter shape your pet will enjoy.
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, about 6 to 8 hours.

These treats should be very dry, so add time as necessary.

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