healthy dog treats

The Nickel Pincher: Healthy Homemade Dog and Cat Treats

News of salmonella making you want to toss your dog biscuits? Make your own healthy treats for all your four-legged companions.

By Jean Nick


The Nickel Pincher: Healthy Homemade Dog and Cat Treats

Since he'll eat pretty much anything, it's up to you to make sure the treat's healthy as well as tasty.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—I can’t remember a time when supermarkets or even vets’ offices didn’t sell dozens of kinds of pet foods, toys, and snacks. But it wasn’t actually that long ago when pet products were uncommon and dogs and cats managed to survive quite well, entertaining themselves and foraging for treats along the banks of riverbeds—not your friendly neighborhood bank where neon-colored dog biscuits are ubiquitous nowadays. Even worse, it seems hardly a month goes by these days when some adulterated pet food ingredient or contaminated product isn’t in the news, most recently the pet biscuits and treats that are being recalled due to Salmonella contamination.

More healthy pet advice, courtesy of
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Feeding your pets healthy homemade pet food can get complicated since you want to address all their specific nutritional needs. But when it comes to the occasional snack, making healthy dog treats and cat kibble is pretty simple and allows you to choose wholesome ingredients, avoid potentially unhealthy or contaminated ones and maybe even save you a little money in the long run.

Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

Basic Biscuits

3 cups whole grain flour (plus a little more for rolling them out)
1/3 cup olive oil, butter, or meat drippings (most dogs’ favorite)
1 egg
1 cup water, stock, or milk

Method: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, adding a little more flour or water if needed to make a smooth, not sticky, dough. Grease two cookie sheets or line them with silicone sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about a ¼-inch thick and cut into desired shapes (many cooking stores now carry "bone" cookie cutters), place shapes on the cookie sheets, and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and firm. Cool and store in an airtight cookie jar.

Cats who enjoy catnip will go wild for these if you add ½ cup of dry or 1 cup of minced fresh catnip to the dough and roll it out about 1/8-inch thick.

Fishy Snacks

Dogs and cats both love these fish treats.

1 15-oz can of mackerel
½ to 1 cup whole grain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Method: Mash the mackerel up in a bowl—juice, bones, skin, and all. Add the baking powder and as much flour as it takes to make a thick dough. Spread it out about ¼-inch thick on an oiled cookie sheet or silicone liner, using a knife or pizza cutter to score it into small squares. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Once cooked, break into squares, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Published on: July 21, 2010
Updated on: July 22, 2010

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