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canines in the kitchen
Weiner dog eating pumpkin treat

Walter munching on frozen pumpkin treats

Many pet parents enjoy baking treats for their dogs. The ingredients you choose to use in your DIY dog treats are essential — even when you make doggie snacks  just for “fun.”

In some cases, our dog’s commercial diets may be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and minerals. Canines could always benefit from a boost of nutrients, and a great way to add these is by baking or making your own treats.

Benefits of making your dog treats

Fresh fruits and veggies are nutritionally dense, and most are easy to prepare for dogs. Also, homemade treats provide a little energy boost — and the benefits are endless for your dog.

  • Pet owners may need to adjust ingredients for dogs with sensitive stomachs and health issues.
  • Food allergies can prevent dogs from eating a lot of specific ingredients, so using a few items packed with a punch is an excellent alternative.

👉 Treats are great for training throughout the day, and each piece should be tiny. If you plan to use a lot of treats, consider feeding less at mealtime. 

What to include in DIY dog treats

There are many foods worth sharing with your pup, and a variety of treats will win over your dogs. Always feed new ingredients in small quantities to make sure your dog’s stomach tolerates anything new to their diet.

  • Oats or oatmeal. Once cooked, you can add some oats to your dog’s meal.
  • Unsalted peanut butter or freshly ground peanut butter. Store peanut butter is relatively safe but always look to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol which is highly toxic to dogs. If possible, opt for fresh ground peanut butter, and this ingredient doesn’t include as much nutrition as others on this list.
  • Pumpkin. Pumpkin is nutritious in vitamin A.
  • Sweet potatoes. This ingredient has healthy skins for easier digestion.
  • Cinnamon. In studies that looked at humans and rodents, cinnamon contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Peas. Peas are great green veggies to serve up, but it’s best if they’re pulsed in the food processor.
  • Apples. Try red apples and remove the peel. Never feed the apple seeds or apple cores to dogs.
  • Blueberries. Blueberries are low in calories and contain high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, and phytochemicals.
  • Fish or sardines. This provides a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids for your dog’s coat and skin health. (No salmon).

Don't include these ingredients in your treats

Never use sugar in dog treats. Instead, natural ingredients like molasses add flavor and are a perfect substitution to make treats palatable for your pet.

  • Xylitol. This ingredient is frequently used in human foods and is very toxic to dogs.
  • Chocolate. The mixture of caffeine and theobromine in different types of chocolate products can be toxic. White chocolate contains very little methylated xanthines like theobromine and caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the worse it is for your dog.
  • Grapes and raisins. The flesh of the grapes and raisins contains a toxin that damages the kidneys and causes kidney failure.
  • Onions and other members of the Allium family like garlic, leeks, and chives. Onions can damage red blood cells and cause Heinz body anemia.
  • Fat and skin. Fat and skin will cause diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis.
  • Any fruit with seeds or pits. Pits can obstruct the digestive tract and some smaller seeds, when bit into, can cause cyanide exposure.

👉 Here’s a whole long list of foods that are bad for your dog to eat.

3 DIY dog treat recipes to make at home

Serving treats with healthy ingredients is a good habit for any pet parent to start. Some pet owners like to stuff Kongs with healthy recipes, and others enjoy baking and getting the blender out!

All three of the treat recipes below are perfect for training or rewarding your pup just for being adorable. I created these in my kitchen at home with my expert taste-testing hounds, Walter and Sherman.

Coconut pumpkin frozen dog treats

Ingredients 

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until pureed.
  3. Pour the mixture into a silicone mold or ice cube tray.
  4. Freeze overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  5. Pop treats out of the mold and serve to your pup!

Cook time: 5 minutes for prep, 4 hours to freeze

Yield: Pending the mold, I was able to fill 1 mold with 18 shapes.

Pumpkin treat ingredients

Oranges, Native Pet Pumpkin Powder, and coconut water

Any recipe with just 3 ingredients always makes the top of the shortlist. There’s nothing better than having a recipe prepped and ready in 5 minutes. Another benefit of frozen treaties for dogs? These treats are super hydrating and perfect for a dog that struggles to drink water.

Pumpkin may be one of the best ingredients you can add to any recipe. It’s high in fiber and excellent fresh food for diarrhea and constipation issues. I add pumpkin as a topper to all my dog’s meals. Native Pet’s Pumpkin Powder is easy for any dog owner to use in treats, meals, or healthy snacks for their pup.

Native Pet pumpkin powder

Scooping Native Pet's yummy pumpkin powder

I kept my coconut pumpkin treats in the freezer and they still held up 3 days in the molds but are starting to get freezer burn. So it’s best to feed these immediately or the day after they’re frozen.

Pumpkin treats in molds

These are best to feed immediately after frozen!

Our hounds are big fans of these frozen coconut pumpkin treats and rate these 5 out of 5 stars.

Dog munching a pumpkin treat

Walter says "yum!"

Dogs love soft cookies full of flavor and vitamins

The following two recipes are from “Feed Your Best Friend Better” by Rick Woodford.

One recipe is a perfect treat for seniors with sensitive mouths looking for a softer cookie. The second recipe combines peanut butter and cinnamon which are a delicious duo. These tiny treats are a great option for a training class.

Soft oatmeal cookies for seniors

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • 1 cup of whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup of quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 red apple (I used Honey Crisp)

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Combine the egg, applesauce, canola oil, and molasses in a large bowl and stir.
  4. Add the flour, oats, baking powder, and apple to the egg mixture and stir with a spoon.
  5. Using a spoon, scoop up one tablespoon of dough and place it onto the baking sheet.

Cook time: 10 minutes to prep, 15 minutes to bake

Yield: 48 cookies

👉 Any recipes with oils (we used canola oil) may be contraindicated in patients who are at risk for pancreatitis

Apple oatmeal cookie ingredients

Everything you need for soft apple dog cookies

Seniors need a cookie they can chew for a few seconds and this recipe includes molasses, an apple, and rolled oats. Molasses is a great ingredient for any dog treat as it is loaded with manganese, which is an antioxidant and helps build healthy bones.

As long as you slice up the apple and toss the core, the addition of this fruit and oats make this treat so delicious — even pet owners will want a bite. You’re essentially baking the apple!

Apple cookie ingredients mixed

Mixing ingredients together

You can keep these treats in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Oatmeal cookies completed

You can keep these in the fridge up to 1 week

This cookie was a winner with our 15-year-old dog Sherman as he’s lost some teeth over the years. This was our pack’s favorite cookie as they already enjoy baked apples as a treat when I cook for the humans!

Dog eating oatmeal cookie

Sherman says "these are a winner."

Peanut butter and cinnamon cookies 

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup of unsalted peanut butter
  • ¾ cup of low sodium chicken stock or chicken broth (you can also make your own!)
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt the peanut butter and stock for 40 seconds in the microwave. Stir until the peanut butter is melted evenly into the stock.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon to the peanut butter mixture and stir until the dough gathers together.
  4. Form into a ball and knead briefly.
  5. Transfer the dough and roll into a 10-inch square, cut 1-inch squares with a pizza cutter.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes and break the cookies apart after they cool.

Cook time: 10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to bake

Yield: 100 cookies (use a ruler)

Cinnamon cookie ingredients

Low sodium chicken stock is key for this recipe

Cinnamon contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. With this in mind, this ingredient is used a lot in dog treats and makes the kitchen smell so good when they are baking in the oven. Always use unsalted peanut butter — and if your grocery carries it, look for fresh ground peanut butter.

Cinnamon dog cookie dough

Kneading the cinnamon dough

These homemade peanut butter dog treats can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week or freezer for up to 2 months.

These treats are perfect when we train to walk away from critters on walks. The dogs enjoyed these a lot more than the boring treats I typically bring along!

Dog eating cinnamon dog treat

Walter says "gimme!"

There are fresh foods worth sharing with your dog 

Making dog biscuits for your canine buddy is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. We didn’t use a cookie cutter with these three recipes. But, you could use a cookie cutter instead of a pizza cutter for the cinnamon and peanut butter recipe. Give these homemade recipes a try — your pup will thank you!

Frequently asked questions

What treats should homemade treats include?

Ingredients including pumpkin puree, coconut oil, baby food, chicken broth, a tsp cinnamon, and a ripe banana can be used in homemade recipes for your dog. Never use sweeteners you would normally use with human treats.

What homemade treats can dogs eat?

Your dog can eat any recipe you dream up as long as you don’t use unsafe ingredients like raisins.

What can I make my dog for a treat?

You can make frozen treats like the one included in this article, biscuits, cookies, or even jerky. Get creative and search on Pinterest for ideas. Dogs even enjoy scrambled eggs.

Can I use regular flour for dog treats?

It’s better to use whole-grain flours as these are healthier alternatives to processed white flour.

Is it cheaper to make your own dog treats?

Many of the ingredients you’ll need for one recipe can be used for all the recipes you have picked out for your dog. You’re almost guaranteed to save money.

Are homemade dog treats healthier?

Using fresh foods for dog treats made at home is always healthier than a store-bought treat that is typically high in carbs. You can choose your ingredients.