Finding healthy dog treats with understandable ingredients can feel almost impossible for pet lovers. Many treats are made of food not suitable for humans and assumed to be good enough for our pets. A growing number of pet owners care enough for their animals to want something better and often homemade dog treats can be a viable alternative. Both Andrew Johnson of Distinctive Dog and Christy Cranmer of Diggin’ Your Dog went through this same journey and ended up turning it into a successful business. Both make very different dog treats and have offered their tips on how to get started.
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After endless attempts to find healthy dog treats without second-rate ingredients, Andrew Johnson started baking for his dogs three years ago. After sharing the snacks with a growing number of friends, he co-founded Distinctive Dog, an allergen-free, gluten-free, dog treat company based just outside of Seattle. While on a much larger scale, Distinctive Dog’s treats are still made by hand with the same high-quality ingredients as when Andrew baked them at home. The products are available at many natural pet stores throughout the Puget Sound including The Feed Bag, Scraps and all Made in Washington locations.
Understand ingredients not fit for dogs
When starting to bake homemade treats for your dog, it is critical to understand that there are many ingredients out there that, while delicious for humans, are simply not good for dogs. Examples of such ingredients would be chocolate, milk products or macadamia nuts. Items such as these can cause vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, even death. Any successful recipe needs to be free of items that can hurt your dog, so examine each one before adding.
Employ a different baking style
Dog cookies should come out more dehydrated than a regular cookie. This dryness helps to clean the dog’s teeth while they are eating. To get to this end result, a home baker needs to approach a dog treat differently than a human cookie. The temperature should be lower and the cooking time should be longer, to really dry out the dough.
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Start Baking: Peanut Butter Snaps
- 2.5 cups rye flour
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil
- 3/4 cup natural peanut butter
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together egg, vanilla, honey and coconut oil in a bowl. Slowly blend flour with dry mixture and then add peanut butter. If the dough is too dry to bind, slowly add warm water until it becomes a solid dough. Place dough on flat surface and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes and then turn off oven. Leave treats in warm oven for 30 minutes to dry out and harden.
Diggin’ Your Dog
Diggin’ Your Dog is a grassroots company owned and operated by people who saw it all working in the pet industry retail sector for over 20 years. They have seen many companies put profit in front of quality because the treats where “just for pets.” Every one of Diggin’ Your Dog’s items is made from the best domestic choices available, including natural chicken, beef and fruit. The company specializes in meat-based treats including chicken and beef jerky strips and these are available in Seattle at The Feed Bag, Rex and Scraps.
Limited ingredients are always best
The more creative a home cook gets, the wider the opportunity that something in the recipe will bother the dog. So start small. If you are making jerky, just start with an easy recipe of drying the jerky to see how the dog likes the treat. If you can get away with just that one meat as the only ingredient, then keep it simple.
Find an alternative to wheat flour
Many dogs have an allergy to wheat and therefore the typical flour a home baker would have on hand shouldn’t be used to make dog treats. However, alternative flours are widely available at most neighborhood grocery stores these days. Rye, buckwheat, oat and coconut flours would all be viable and easy-to-find alternatives. Each has its own health benefits for dogs, so doing your research could allow those benefits to match up to an individual dog’s needs.
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Megan Knight resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, WA. During the day she works in IT Management and at night is a royal news junkie. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.