Homemade dog treats - healthy and inexpensive
I recently updated this piece. I have found that the process defined below also works with chicken livers, readily available in the freezer section, as well as cheap packages of chicken gizzards and giblets, found in the refrigerated meat section. Very thinly sliced slices of beef tongue also would work. The goal is provide a great variety of proteins to keep dogs interested.
Veterinarians argue that like most things, when it comes to feeding dogs, investing in the beginning saves expenses down the road. When raising dogs proper nutrition is a costly proposition as well as a much. When you take the time to invest in quality food, supplements and healthy treats you do stave off problems from dry skin, bad breath to cancer and improper bone growth. And more and more long time vets are beginning to argue that many of today's easily available, cost effective grocery store foods
promote many of the illnesses that beset pets. Old timers recall that in the days when dogs and cats consumer human quality food in the form of table scraps instead of bagged and canned commercial products cancer was at a much lower incidence than today.
Holistic care givers note that artificial coloring, preservatives, scents and flavors also introduce chemicals into animal bodies, building up over time and creating internal havoc. Evidence of this played out a few years ago when what was supposed to have been corn from China turned out to be a chemical found in plastics. Thousands of dogs and cats became ill and/or died as a result.
In 2007, national commercial pet food brands were involved in months-long recalls when it was determined that most corn by-products (what is swept up off the floor after all of the nutritional value of the corn has been removed) that were destine for pet foods (dog and cat) were coming from one or two main sources outside the United States. Manufacturers that avoided the recalls touted the American made nature of their products; the human-grade quality of their ingredients; and their smaller holistic approach to animal nutrition.
In the aftermath of the recall, concerned pet owners turned to various ideas to prevent future losses. Some began researching raw diets, in which dogs consume raw meaty bones to achieve their alcium and protein. But such diets require supplements and a certain amount of greens. Those that preach dogs are carnivores forget that in the wild, dogs not only consume their prey but also consume the contents of their stomachs, most likely grasses and other greens.
Some began to cook their dog foods. A protein, vegatable, healthy whole grain such as barley and fruits can be cooked down in a crockpot to produce the equivalent of canned dog food. But cooked bones must be removed and vets need to determine kinds and amounts of vitamins generally needed to round out the meal.
However, one arena in which pet owners can combine their creativity and caring is that of treats.
Healthy treats from gourmet dog food stores can be expensive, while the ingredients to cook up a batch of peanut butter and carob oatmeal dog biscuits are available for much less. Cookbooks proliferate with recipes for hard biscuits, meatloafs filled with hard cooked eggs, spinach, oatmeal and served cut in cubes or crumbled onto dry kibble and the weight concious encourage their dogs to enjoy a baby carrot now and then in place of a Milk Bone for clean teeth, fresh breath and a smaller waistline.
But perhaps one of the easiest and least expensive dog treats is a dried tidbit.
In fancy pet stores, bags of dried sweet potato and cubes of chicken and animal liver sell for $10 and up. A reasonably priced dehydrator, on the other hand, from a kitchen or home improvement store, can be purchased for $30.
After purchasing a bag of sweet potatoes, or pound of beef liver, a little slicing, dicing and placing is all that are required. While an oven on low is a viable option, the electronic dehydrator is designed to run long hours with little heat or threat of fire.
A tall dehydrator with six or more trays can process a variety of items at once as long as they are periodically checked and those that are complete are removed. Dogs will welcome dried apple, carrot and sweet potato slices. Thicker sweet potatoes provide chewing experience and can be coated with peanut butter for more appeal.
Chicken, beef and even pork liver can be sliced, dried and then crumbled into dog-appropriate size cubes to be used as treats or training incentives. Cheap cuts of meat or poultry can be purchaed cheaply from butchers and dried for use indefinitely.
By producing healthy, single ingredient, American-sourced pet treats, animal owners can feel good about what they are feeding their animals while still saving a few dollars.