Monday, 2 July 2012

Homemade DIY Natural, Healthy Dog Treats - Recipes and Health Benefits

Commercially manufactured, highly processed dog kibble, cookies and treats can be full of poor nutrition, toxins and carcinogens. The manufacturer may promote their product as wholesome and (all) natural but the terms ‘wholesome’, ‘all-natural’ are not regulated - manufacturers can use the terms as liberally as they like. Many of these treats also contain sugar and other ingredients that are contradictory to a good diet.

As a healthy treat and addition to my dogs’ home made food, I wanted grain-free, healthy nutrient rich alternatives to replace the commercially manufactured dog cookies that I formerly added to my dogs’ daily meals.

The following recipe and its companion, my homemade dog food recipe is appropriate for:

  • Puppies;
  • Teenage Dogs;
  • Adult Dogs, and;
  • Senior Dogs.
The only reason the commercial pet food industry has established a sales niche for puppy food, v.s adult dog food, vs senior dog food is because the adult dog food produced by the pet food industry is often deficient in good source nutrition. 

While an adult dog may be able to sustain such deficiencies for longer periods of time - dogs that are more vulnerable - such as puppies, will show the effects of deficiencies more quickly, the same can be said for many senior dogs. 

As well, the pet food industry has created a niche for 'weight control' dog foods for adult and senior dogs. Another invention made necessary by the inadequacies of  pet food industry products. A dog that is on a species appropriate diet is much less likely to become overweight than a dog that is fed a nutrient poor and grain-based diet. Grain gets converted by the body into sugar very quickly - this spikes insulin levels and has a collective effect of creating constant hunger in the dog. In addition a dog that is fed a diet that is primarily comprised of  fillers and poor source carbohydrates must consume a much larger quantity of that 'food' in order to obtain actual nutritive value. The combination of these two facts creates obesity in dogs, just as it does in humans. If a dog is fed a truly good diet - that same diet can retain its value unchanged throughout the life-span of the dog - from puppy, hood to adult to senior. 

If you need your dog to loose weight - the best approach is to feed your dog a truly good diet, cut back on carbohydrates, increase protein and good source fat (i.e. coconut oil  a good source omega-6 fatty acid, a high quality omega-3 fatty acid such as Norwegian cod liver oil, Wild Alaskan salmon oil or Norwegian krill oil), introduce appropriate cooked, frozen-thawed and fresh veggies and fruit prepared properly to maximize absorption of nutrients, and turmeric. 

For puppies up to 8 months of age exclude the garlic from the recipe. Once puppy is 8 months of age add the garlic to the recipe.

Recipe #1 - Nutrient Rich 'Pebble' Treat

  • 3 cups dry chick peas soaked overnight and then cooked until soft;
  • 3 to 4 tbs of coconut oil, olive oil or sesame oil;
  • 3 to 4 tbs of organic apple cider vinegar;
  • 2 cups grated/shredded cheese - cheddar, mozzarella, provolone or Swiss;
  • 1 fresh lemon (rind, pulp, juice, seeds removed), finely minced - lemons have many beneficial properties;
  • 1/8 cup anise seed (whole or ground);
  • 1/8 cup caraway seed (whole or ground);
  • 1/8 cup fennel seed (whole or ground); 

Optional Ingredients
  • 4 garlic cloves, finally minced (yes, it is safe for dogs when fed in reasonable amounts daily and offers many health benefits);
  • 1/8 cup dry or fresh dill (chopped);
  • 1/8 cup ground flax seed.

Use a hand-held utensil, blender or food mash, finely crush or grind the cooked chickpeas. Mix all ingredients including the finely crushed chick peas together in a large bowl and then place in a plastic container – store in the fridge for up to a week. 

Optional preparation -  I like to put the fresh cooked chick peas in the blender or food processor to partially mash them. This helps to further breakdown the cell structure of the chick peas to allow fro maximum absorption of nutrients by your dog's digestive system. If your dog does not 'wolf their food down' :>) you can stick to using the whole chick peas.

I skip the optional ingredients as my dogs' get enough of these beneficial foods when they eat their daily bowl of fresh food.

You can cut the recipe in half, thirds, or quarters depending on how many dogs you have and how often you want to feed them the treat. My dogs get this treat with two of their daily meals. Bonus, it is just as good for humans as it is for dogs so I get to eat it too! If you can get most or all of the ingredients in organic form - it is even better.

Recipe #2 - Scrambled Eggs, Cheese and Coconut Oil

  • 6 Omega-3 enriched eggs;
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbs coconut oil (depends on the size of the fry pan you are using);
  • 1/2 cup grated/shredded cheese - cheddar, mozzarella, provolone or Swiss;
  • Add the coconut oil to a fry pan and set on low heat;
  • Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk them;
  • Add the grated cheese to the whisked eggs;
  • Pour the egg and cheese mixture into the heated fry pan and cook on low heat;
  • Scramble them as they start to cook;
  • When the eggs are fluffy and still a little moist they are ready to serve;
  • Allow the scrambled eggs to cool down to warm, before placing the treat in your dog's food bowl. 

You can cut the recipe in half, thirds, or quarters depending on how many dogs you have. Dogs can really benefit from having cooked eggs 2 to 3 times a week. Feeding your dog raw eggs can lead to fur and skin problems.

Health Benefits

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, helps support your dog’s immune system, it is a natural insect repellent fleas and ticks do not like acidic environments…they don’t like the smell of ACV. I give my dogs’ ACV on a daily basis - it makes there skin and blood much less tasty to fleas, ticks and Mosquitoes. ACV is also excellent for a dog’s coat - when used topically and when ingested. ACV can also be used to treat ear infections.

Anise Seed
Anise seed has anti-oxidant, disease preventing and many health promoting properties. Anise is rich in B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin A and C (anti-oxidants) and important minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese zinc and potassium. 


Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are rich in antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins (i.e. A, B-complex, C, E, thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin) and minerals (i.e. calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc). Caraway seeds are also high in good fibre.

Cheese - Cheddar, Mozzarella, Provolone or Swiss
Cheddar, Mozzarella, Provolone and Swiss cheese are a good source of protein; rich in calcium; a good source of vitamin A; an aid to controlling hypertension; a source of Linoleic acid and Sphingolipids (help prevent cancer) . A dog’s teeth and jaws are comprised primarily of calcium. When there is not enough calcium in a dog’s diet the risk of developing periodontitis increases. Calcium is best when combined with phosphorus and Vitamin D

Chick Peas (also called Egyptian Peas, Bengal Grams, Garbanzo Beans)

Rich in vitamins such as vitamin C and folic acid and minerals such as potassium and manganese - you can see a comprehensive list here;
  • Rich in lean protein;
  • Provides excellent digestive tract support;
  • Rich in antioxidants;
  • Cardiovascular health;
  • Regulation of blood sugar
  • High in good fibre (fiber binds to toxins in food and helps protect the colon mucus membrane from cancers, helps lower bad LDL)
  • To read a comprehensive explanation of health benefits click here

Coconut Oil
In addition to being an excellent source of Omega 6 fatty acids, coconut oil offers an amazing array of health benefits for example coconut oil is a digestive aid, promotes healthy bones, supports the immune system, metabolism, skin and fur. f you would like to know more about the many benefits of coconut oil you can click here.

Olive Oil or Sesame Oil
Making sure your dog gets enough Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in their diet is essential to good health. Olive Oil and Sesame Oil are both good sources of Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids must be consumed on a daily basis and in the correct ratio. You can read this article to learn more about Omega 3 and 6 Health benefits, best sources and dosage. You can add ground flax seeds if you want to include Omega 3 fatty acids in this recipe as well as Omega 6.


Dill Weed
Dill contains monoterpene which helps anti-oxidants attach to oxidized molecules - thus supporting the fight against free-radicals. Dill is also a digestive aid and helps to regulate insulin levels and may help in controlling bad LDL.

Eggs contain Lutein and zeaxanthin - two caratenoids that support eye health - particularly important for aiding in the prevention of macular degeneration and cataracts. Eggs are high in protein and iron and naturally occurring vitamin D. Eggs are rich in vitamins and minerals (i.e. sulpher) that support the growth and maintenance of healthy fur and nails. With the growth of mass production of eggs Omega 6 levels have risen dramatically resulting in a disruption of the natural ratio of Omega 6 to 3 in eggs. For that reason it is best to purchase Omega-3 enriched eggs.

Garlic has many health benefits - you can read about them here. Unlike onions, garlic is good for a dog’s health.

Fresh Lemon Juice
Lemon is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-viral, immune system boosting, a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons contain bioflavonoids, calcium, citric acid, limonene, magnesium and vitamin C. Lemon is also excellent for treating periodontal issues, for avoiding and treating ear infections and when used as a household cleaner thus reducing your dog’s exposure to harsh chemicals.

Additional Treat Recipes

DIY Nutritious Treats Made with Yogurt and Cheese

  • DIY Smoothies & Frozen Treats for Dogs – Nutrient Rich Refreshing Relief During Hot Weather - recipes and health benefits here.