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tan dog nose sniffing a cooling sheet with dog treats on it

All dog owners love to spoil their pups with some treats now and then, but dog treats can become costly over time and sometimes include ingredients that are less healthy for your pup. Treats can be a great way to add fun and nutritional value to your pet’s day. So why not consider making your own?!

Making homemade dog treats is not that difficult, and although it won’t save any time, it can save you some dollars. If you have larger dogs like Labrador retrievers or Australian Labradoodles in your home, you know how big their appetite can be and buying treats for them can be heavy on your pocket sometimes.

What Are the Benefits of Homemade Dog Treats?

It might take you a while to shift your mind from making and storing homemade treats for your dog instead of purchasing the commercially prepared store-bought ones. However, the biggest upside of making dog treats at home is being able to control what goes into them. There are many healthy ingredients you can sneak into them which your dog might not like otherwise.

Making your dog’s treats at home means there will be no preservatives or artificial flavoring in the treats, which is great news for your pet’s health, but does that mean they will stay fresh lying in your pantry or your kitchen counter for days or weeks? The answer is no.

So here are some great tips and tricks to help you make dog treats at home and keep them fresh for weeks. It might come as a shock, but you can store some of them for as long as a month or more. Let’s start with tips about the first step of making homemade treats, and that is measuring the ingredients.

Tips About Measuring Ingredients of Dog Treats

Measuring ingredients for making a dog treat seem no biggie, right? But it is important to measure things precisely by using the appropriate utensils.

Dry ingredients: Use spoons or dry measuring cups to measure dry ingredients like oats, flour, or cornstarch.

Liquid ingredients: Liquid ingredients like milk, broth, or water should be measured with a liquid measuring cup.

Extra tip: Try not to scoop out things; instead, it is better to pour both dry or liquid ingredients into the cup, and instead of pushing ingredients down, try to let the cup get filled naturally as it would give you more accurate measurements.

Semi liquid ingredients: What about the ingredients that are neither liquid nor solid, like nuts, yogurt, sauces, or semi-solid ingredients like coconut oil, peanut butter, honey, or molasses? We suggest you spray your cups with some olive oil before filling them with ingredients as it will stick less that way and make it easier to work with; otherwise, you will lose a lot of your measured ingredient. It’s important to note that although coconut oil is solid below 76 degrees F, it is easiest to work with as a liquid when baking. Don’t worry, one cup of solid coconut oil will yield the same volume of liquid oil.

Leafy ingredients: Always measure chopped-up spinach, herbs, parsley, or any other fresh greens using a dry cup and gently pack them into it.

Meat or carbo chips: For meat or carbo chips, use dry cups and pack them into the cups but make sure not to push them hard.

Tips And Techniques for Recipes

Now that you know how to measure the ingredients, what about actually making those delicious recipes? Let’s list here some of the utensils and tools that you would need.

Tools

  • Silicone baking mats: These are the must-haves when you start baking your dog treats as they won’t allow things to get burned, and they are super easy to clean. You can also use them to roll sticky doughs that are hard to roll otherwise.
  • Freezer and oven-safe silicone molds: These work wonderfully for several dog treats. The trick is to lightly spritz them with oil before pouring anything into them, and they’re easy to wash with soap and water.
  • Oblong measuring spoons: They fit in easily inside bottles or spice jars, preventing oil spillage. All in all, it is easier to work with squared-off or oblong spoons than rounded ones.
  • Cookie cutters: It is good to have cookie cutters in several shapes and sizes in your pantry so that you can make each type of treat in a useful size or shape (and they are fun to work with!). Extra tip: you can cut different shapes, store them in the refrigerator, and use different frostings and toppings later when you are about to cook them.

Tricks

Apart from the utensils you’ll need, here are a few more cooking tricks that may help you while making dog treats.

  • Use egg wash on the treats to make them look shiny and appealing. It works equally well for both sweet and savory treats.
  • Frosted and iced treats are hard to store, so decorate them at the time of use, or they will go bad faster.
  • It’s a good idea to score treats with a knife before baking as it makes it easier to break them, especially for senior dogs and small puppies.

Tips About Storing Dog Treats

If you follow these four tips, your dog treats will stay fresher for longer!

  1. Completely cool down all the treats before storing them.
  2. Be mindful of the ingredients as treats made with vegetables and gluten-free flour can be stored in a towel by wrapping them loosely, but after that, store them in the fridge, and they will stay fresh for eight to ten days.
  3. Treats with fish, meat, bouillon, or butter should be refrigerated to keep them fresh for five to seven days.
  4. Always store other types of treats in air tight jars.
  5. Extra tip: Using vitamin C and vitamin E in the recipes is a good idea, too, as they act as natural preservatives.

A Fool-Proof Dog Treat Recipe

This recipe is sure to become your dog’s favorite. The best thing about this recipe is that you can sneak in some additional nutritious items in it, as it is a very versatile and accommodating recipe. Moreover, it just takes a few minutes. Here are the ingredients

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients and keep the dough a little sticky. Roll it out using a rolling pin, and using a cookie cutter, cut out the shapes you like. Place them on a silicon mat and bake them for anywhere between 20 to 35 minutes depending on your oven. The longer you bake them, the crunchier they will be. Cool them down and store them in a refrigerator or freeze them for up to six months.

On the other hand, if your dog is a fan of more savory treats, then this cheddar and bacon treat recipe is perfect.

We hope this article helped you and motivated you to make your dog treats at home!

Guest Author: Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Dynamologic Solutions.

Now is the time to strengthen your bond with your pets and help them stimulate their minds and exercise their bodies. Let them live their best lives and you can live vicariously through your pet. Go ahead, we won’t judge!

Social distancing has forced us all to slow down and remain more isolated. How many of you are just waiting for the day when you can resume your normal routine? Most people aren’t enjoying the current quarantine, but our pets are loving this time with you! two cats playing, cat toys, cat enrichment gamesThey are happy to have you home to play and snuggle with all day. They enjoy “contributing” to your video meetings, bringing you every toy they own, and showing you the best windows from which to watch the world go by. They are loving all of the one on one time with you. But you are growing sick of the same old squeaky toys and slimy tug ropes. You don’t want to sit next to your pet and stare out the window together at a squirrel. What to do?

Here are some top tips for enriching your pet’s life during quarantine:

1. Make mealtime fun!

Your pup or kitty might live for mealtimes, but giving them the same food in the same bowl day after day leaves a lot of room for new opportunities. Try giving your pet their dinner in a puzzle toy or treat dispenser so they have to work for their food. There are plenty of great puzzle toys out there but many of our clients love the Nina Ottosson puzzles or West Paw treat dispensers. To increase the difficulty let them go on a scent hunt around the house or in the backyard. Your pet has to search out his/her kibble under the dresser, behind the sofa, or on the corner of the stairs. To switch it up, try putting pieces of their kibble in cardboard boxes and move them around so they have to sniff out the correct box like the ASPCA does for scent enrichment.

Veterinarians contributing to PetMD suggest that hunting is a great way for your feline friend to satisfy their natural instincts while staying active to keep extra weight off. You can use cat treat toys or puzzles to get their minds engaged with their meal. For the low cost version, try cutting some holes in a shoebox and tossing their treats or kibble in there.

2. What’s that smell?

Speaking of scent enrichment, it’s a great way to entertain your pet (and you)! Modern Dog Magazine has a lot of good ideas for scent games and scent training with your pup, but you can also play with your kitty if she’s willing. Your cat may be more interested in “hunting” her scents, for a reward of course. But if your pup likes to use her sniffer then some of these games, like “Pick the Hand,” “Shell Game,” or “Scent Trails” with a favorite ball will go over very well with your four legged friend.

3. Brain Games

Let’s face it. Your pet is never going to be Albert Einstein. But dogs and cats need mental stimulation as much as physical exertion to stay fit and healthy. There are plenty of brain games to offer to your pet to see which sparks their interest. For cats, toys that encourage their predatory instincts to stalk, chase, and bite are very rewarding. But try to add in an additional piece of problem solving to the play by utilizing vertical space for stalking and incorporating puzzle toys or remote control mice.

Dogs enjoy a wide variety of games, so try out these or come up with your own! Fear Free Pets suggests setting up an indoor obstacle course for your pet to take on. Set up boards to walk across, ladders (closed and on the floor) to step over, boxes to sit on or crawl through, yoga mats to lie on, and much more. You can also try hide and seek! Let your dog search for his/her favorite thing – you! Have your dog sit and stay (or have a family member hold him/her) and then go into another room to hide. The better your dog gets the more creative you can get with the hiding spot, but don’t make it too hard at the beginning. When you’ve hidden call your release word and wait for your pup to find you. Make sure you give plenty of praise when they do!

4. Tricks

Many of our pets can “shake” and maybe “roll over” on command. We’ve all heard of those basic tricks. But now that you have plenty of time at home how about spicing up your trick routine? Trick training is a great way to stimulate your dog’s brain while strengthening your bond. Be sure to train in increments of 10-15 minutes at a time and break more intricate tricks down into smaller parts to learn. If your pup only knows “shake” don’t expect him to immediately understand a complete trick routine. Stick with easier tricks initially until you both can work up to the more difficult tricks. Dogster.com has some great recommendations for fun tricks of varying difficulties. Why not teach your dog to “spin” or “high five?” For those more advanced tricksters try “make a wish” or “bow.” Domorewithyourdog.com has some great trick training ideas and even offers some free Facebook classes to help with learning how to trick train.

Cats can be trained too, but make sure you are using positive reinforcement! Many cats respond well to clicker training and targeting. Samantha Martin, the director of Amazing Acro-Cats, has clicker trained all of her rescue cats to perform tricks. You can try to teach your kitty “high five,” “go to bed,” or “come.”

Don’t forget to also brush up on your pet’s obedience and social skills. When you can go back out into the world, having solid obedience skills and critical thinking abilities in social settings can make spending time with your friends and family easier and more relaxing for both you and your pet. Being able walk on a loose leash, sit and stay, interact politely with other humans or dogs, and relax on a patio are all great skills for your pup to have in the larger world. The American Kennel Club, PetMD, and Your Dog Advisor have some good tips on obedience training or contact a local trainer for ideas on how to begin or brush up on obedience training during quarantine.

5. Treats

Got bored kids as well as bored pets? Now is a great time to get your kids involved in caring for your pets. They may be able to help with some of the training or the games of hide and seek if they’re old enough, but what to do after that? There are plenty of DIY pet toys and homemade treats that you and your family can create to the everlasting joy of your pet (or at least until they’ve eaten or destroyed it)! Fear Free Pets offers some designs for creating a catnip toy out of a sock or a dangly toy they can bat at or chase. Dr. Marty Becker suggests adding feathers to a string for a “real” bird feel or cutting holes in a box to play “whack-a-mole” with a hot dog (if your pup is on a diet try a carrot instead of a hot dog).

Besides DIY toys, there are lots of recipes for homemade treats like the Marvelous Mutt Meatball, “Love My Puppy” peanut butter treats, Biscuit the Dog’s PB Banana treats, and more. For those non-bakers, freezing a Kong with peanut butter, plain yogurt, or pumpkin is a great treat for your pup. Add some kibble, banana, or blueberries for an interesting twist. Try the Paw-psicle from Animal Humane Society for your kitties. Mix hot water and tuna fish together and pour into a kitty sized container (like an ice tray or something smaller) and freeze.

6. Calling All Pet Models

Photographer Peter Scott Barta has some great suggestions for getting epic pet shots that could get you found as America’s Next Top Pet Model (it’s not a thing, but shouldn’t it be?). Try using a squeaky toy to get that focused look directly at your camera. For some fun you can put peanut butter on the roof of your pup’s mouth. Time for #tongueouttuesday! The Canine Journal also suggests getting down to their level when taking photos or photographing your pet with other family members, four legged, two legged, or stuffed. Some people have entertained themselves and their followers by dressing up their pets, but make sure your pet is having fun too! Don’t be shy about using those tasty bribes when trying out new costumes for your furry friend. If video is more your style, try fun shots with the slo-mo function on your phone or camera. Blowing bubbles at your pet or playing peekaboo can get some very funny shots!

7. Create a Zen Space

After all of that fun your pet may be wiped out. Consider creating a space just for him/her to relax in. The Animal Humane Society recommends finding an out of the way space in your home like under the stairs or in an unused corner to place a comfy bed, some blankets, and a few soft and hard toys for your pet to interact with. Dr Kayla Whitfield reminds readers that it is important for cats to have vertical space, especially when there are young kids or other pets in the house. Set up cat trees or cat shelves so they can hide above eye level in safety and comfort. Those cat trees and shelves can double as a play space for when they’re feeling feisty, but make sure if you have elderly cats that you give them easy access to those elevated places. Even cardboard boxes and cat gates to block off certain “cat only” areas can help your kitty feel more comfortable in their space and give them a special retreat. If your pet would rather relax close to you, think about putting a dog bed next to your desk (or wherever your home office might be) or dragging an extra chair close to you for your cat to feel like she can stay close while having her own space.

Check out what cutie pie Dundie the Doodle and his family have up their sleeve to combat their quarantine blues.

Now is a perfect time for this post because April is National Canine Fitness Month. Just be sure to keep an eye on how many treats you’re feeding your pet and take it out of their total calories for the day so they don’t gain weight with all this fun. So go ahead. Get your pup (or your kitty) started on a fun new routine to help them stay sane and in shape! What are you waiting for?