You already know that avoiding commercially made pet food, and cooking your furry friend’s food at home is the best way to keep them healthy. But what about occasional treats? The truth is, you should be vigilant about anything that goes into your pet’s body (or on their skin). But that doesn’t mean Fido can’t enjoy a little splurge every now and then. Here are some truly healthy treats for pets, that will have their tails wagging.
Fruits and Veggies
I know, I know - what kind of monster recommends a VEGETABLE as a treat? While green beans and carrots are surely far from our minds when we think of the word “treat,” your pet may feel much differently. Most pets are happy to receive any kind of morsel in between meals - and especially as a reward for good behavior. I’ve found many, many furballs enjoy these fresh bites (though I’ll admit dogs are much more receptive than cats of these picks).
Crunchy fruits and vegetables are my favorite go-to. Not only to they provide that satisfying crunch that any good snack has, these double up with a few bonus features.
Dental Boosters: They’re helpful in keeping your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. Carrots, celery, apples and broccoli stems can help remove plaque and clean between your pet’s teeth as they chew.
Nutrient Bombs: Feeding your dog or cat a healthy fruit or veggie is going to deliver a little extra dose of micronutrients. Whether it’s a cooling, hydrating cucumber or a slice of pepper rich in fiber and vitamin A, you can’t go wrong.
Slimming Snacks: Vegetables and fruits are the perfect healthy treats for pets because they’re not going to come with extra calories, unhealthy fats or added sugar. These whole, delicious foods are great for your pet’s body, and won’t interfere with your pet’s healthy diet.
If you’re introducing your pet to a new diet, like The Original CrockPet Diet, try to give treats that include the same ingredients as your new batch of food. This will help you keep track of which ingredients your pet responds well to, and which ones you should avoid.
Cooked or Dried Meats
If your pet is less than thrilled when you offer them a piece of squash or watermelon, never fear. For those who are more carnivorously inclined (like most felines I know), small pieces of meat are completely acceptable and healthy treats for pets.
Before you prepare your next batch of The Original CrockPet Diet, save a small piece of the protein you’re using. Prepare it as simply as possible, by roasting it at a low temperature, and breaking it into small pieces.
If you have a food dehydrator, feel free to make your pet some tasty jerky. My own pets, and many of my patients, have always been big fans of dehydrated beef liver treats! No dehydrator? No problem. These DIY Beef Liver Treats are easily made in your oven. But be warned: once you introduce these to your pet, ou may need to hide them in a secure location and curb some serious begging.
A Cool, Creamy Treat
Coconut oil is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with, for both myself and my pets. I love the many health benefits of coconut oil, and the diversity with which it can be used. Packed with healthy fats, this ingredient helps reduce inflammation and improve gut motility, among many other perks.
So, it only makes sense that I also love to use it to make one of my favorite healthy treats for pets. This is Mona's favorite "splurge."
Melt equal parts coconut oil and peanut butter, and mix the two together. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on the bottom of a shallow dish, and pop it in the freezer. Once solid, break the frozen concoction into small bite-size pieces. These should be kept in the freezer.
When choosing a peanut butter for this recipe, be sure it’s natural and organic if possible. Never give your pet a product that’s been sweetened with xylitol or other artificial sweeteners. Almond butter and cashew butter can be safely used in this recipe, and are often available without added sugar or sweeteners. Check your labels!
Made at Home, Made with Love
All in all, any treat you make for your pet at home is a win. Commercially made treats are often just very unhealthy. A common dog biscuit is nutritionally the equivalent of a candy bar for our pets (think of how unhealthy you’d feel if you ate four candy bars daily). Recalls are issued for contaminated pet treats all the time. Don't let your sweet pet become a victim of illness or contamination. Provide your four legged friend with something wholesome, healthy and delicious instead.
Healthy treats for pets can easily be prepared at home. By making your pet’s treats, as you do their food, you help your pet avoid the risks of illness, and provide them with the healthy building blocks their furry body needs. So, next time you’re searching for the perfect reward for your good boy, look no further than your fridge. After all, Your Pet’s Best Health Begins in the Bowl.