One of the best gifts that you can give your dog or make for friends or family members with dogs are homemade treats. These treats can include a wide variety of ingredients from completely vegetarian treats through to meaty snacks that are sure to have them sitting up and begging for more.
Homemade dog treats are a great gift idea for several reasons. First, they really show a dog owner or a dog how much you care. After all you took the effort to make these delicious and very healthy treats with your own hands in your own kitchen. Another great reason to make homemade dog treats to give away as gifts is that they are really inexpensive to make but can be a terrific looking gift. Most of the ingredients you will likely already have on hand, plus the additional ingredients are simple and easy to find at any grocery store.
Below are a couple of different varieties of very healthy, homemade dog treats. There are some treats that can be made without gluten, prefect for those dogs that may have any type of food allergies. Avoid adding food coloring or other chemicals to the treats to keep them as healthy and chemical free as possible. For those very picky pooches organic ingredients can also be used, adding considerably to the appeal of homemade treats for many dog owners.
Beefy Brown Rice Snacks
1-2 cups diced or shredded cooked lean roast beef
2 1/2 cups flour, all-purpose
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 whole egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup powdered milk
1 package yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 beef bouillon cubes
Mix the yeast in with the warm water and bouillon and allow the mixture to stand up to 5 minutes. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl, and then add all the wet ingredients and the shredded beef. Mix until liquid is absorbed. This mixture will be very dry and crumbly. Knead on a flat surface until the mixture forms a ball and then roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and bake at 300 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Use an ungreased baking sheet for easy removal and best results. The cookies will be hard and dry; if they are still soft to the touch after cooking place them back in the oven for an addition 3-5 minutes to finish cooking.
Healthy Peanut Butter Treats
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
3 tbsp. baking powder
2 cups organic peanut butter
1 cup milk (any kind including fat free)
Mix the flour, oats and baking powder together in a large bowl, add milk and peanut butter and mix well until combined. Knead until a smooth texture is obtained. Use a floured board and rolling pin to roll dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. These cookies can be left softer but will have a shorter shelf life and will need to be stored in an air-tight container.
Orange Doggy Treats
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 whole egg, beaten
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil
Juice from a small orange
1 3/4 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until moist. Knead and roll out very thin, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes and back at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or until firm and crisp. These cookies can be frosted with icing made from 2 cups of carob (not chocolate) chips melted with 1 teaspoon olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of grated orange rind.
Experimenting with a variety of different combinations to come up with your own custom type of dog food treat is a great way to get the whole family involved. Just remember that there are specific foods that should not be in any dog treat that you make. These include onions, garlic in large quantities, grapes or raisins, and especially nothing that contains any amount of coffee or chocolate. Some dogs are very sensitive to the compounds in caffeine as found in coffee and chocolate and can have very swift and deadly reactions. Salt is sometimes used in very minimal quantities and sugar should be avoided in any type of dog food recipe.
The major ingredients that are typically contained in most homemade dog treat recipes include whole wheat flour, brown rice, oatmeal or small amounts of cornmeal as the basis of the recipe. The liquids used vary from whole milk to milk powder and water, fruit juices, beef, chicken or vegetable stock or even plain water. Eggs and oil are typically added as binding agents and to allow mixing of the ingredients in the recipe. If you are using any types of meat be sure they are completely cooked prior to use in the recipe or bake long enough for the meat to be cooked through to the correct internal temperature.
Although dog treats can be cut into squares or shaped into balls, why not try your hand at some festive shapes as well? Cookie cutters will work great for cutting out dog food treats; just be sure to dip them in either flour or water before using them to cut the dough. This will prevent sticking and give you a nice, crisp edge to the cookies. Some pet stores and art supply stores also sell dog stencils that can be used to cut out specific dog shaped designs.
There are lot of creative ways to make gift baskets and bags up using your homemade dog treats. You can always look for dog shaped platters or plates, then display your cookies on a flat surface. Tins that feature dog themes are also a wonderful idea. Ribbons and wrapping paper with Santa themed dogs or other types of festive dog gift wrap is available in most pet stores as well as online. Being a bit creative and giving a decorated dog water or food bowl full of doggy treats can be a wonderful gift, one that is sure to bring a smile to any dog or person's face this holiday season.