For four years I've been making these treats. Mostly in double batches. The ingredients are common not sexy, the outcome predictable not shapely.
Its really easy to make two batches and is so economical its easy to share them.
I discovered a few years back that you cannot donate home made food for people consumption to the food bank, but, home made dog treats were not only allowed, they were appreciated. We often forget that there are dogs that live with people who rely on the food banks to supplement their meals. Those dogs are well loved and true family members.
The premise of the recipe is so simple that you can hardly believe it is actually that easy The ingredient list is flexible and made with ingredients a food bank recipient would have on hand. I print the
Yup, that is a jar of fat drippings, told you it was cheap
I save my fat drippings (and a few friends do the same for me). Bacon fat, fat from burger, from chicken you name it. No fancy oils or expensive jars from health food stores, Just plain, basic old school cooking here.
When I say dry goods you can use stale dry cereal, or flour or flax or rolled oats. When I say oil you can use peanut butter or lard or fat drippings. (any combination to equal the number of cups needed) Typically I use up my fat drippings and top up with peanut butter (and end up
with an irresistible to dogs peanut butter bacon treat.
As far as the liquid goes, tuna juice from lunch, or chicken broth or water, or the water your veges were cooked in for supper last night! I make my own chicken broth, and then do a second run on the bones and use it in this recipe.
Once baked, dried and cooled, just package and drop off!
It really cannot get any easier or flexible or cheap then this recipe. Baggies, or dollar store packages to prepare for drop off! Bins are located at most grocery stores, so its not even out of your way. Takes no extra time! There really isn't a reason not to make these treats... and to share them!
Mint! It's that time of year that gardens are over flowing with this easy to grow herb. Most gardeners would explain that its fast growing and fairly invasive. Not only is it great once dried in a tea, but it's also good for our dogs!
Mint is a natural flea repellent and a great breath freshener. mint inhibits bacteria growth in his mouth and can be minced and sprinkled fresh in the kibble. It also can settle an upset tummy and help with motion sickness.
All new pups here get mint tea (cooled) added to their kibble the first 5-6 meals to help keep their digestive tracts ... well... on track!
Baking with Mint
Once you add the wet ingredients to the dry, simply hand mix. If it doesn't form a ball add water one tablespoon full at a time. The dough will spread (with some coaxing) over a baking sheet. A 9" x 15" pan will do it. Smaller will make thicker treats and bigger thinner. Adjust your cooking times to match. I like to use my pizza cutter and score the raw dough to the size treat I like. You can roll yours out on wax paper and use cookie cutters if you'd like. My boys don't seem to mind boring old squares.
Score. Bake. Store!
Once you've scored or cut the dough, simply bake for 15 minutes, remove, break apart and return to the shut off oven to cool (and dehydrate).
Storage is simple and counter top safe, no need to refrigerate.
Why is fear and anxiety such a big problem with dogs today ?
It seems like fear and anxiety are getting worse in our dogs. There are medications for it, pheromone sprays for it, relaxing music for it (Relax My Dog on YouTube), and even clothing for it (Thundershirt). What seems to be missing is the answer to the question, where is it coming from ?
First I will explain what fear is (in people terms), and then discuss some reasons I feel fear is such a problem in dogs.
What is Fear ?
Fear is natural and normal. Fear is a necessary emotional response that keeps us alive. If you were not scared of fire, heights, poisonous spiders or even dark alleys, you may make choices that could injure or even kill you. Fear exists to help you avoid danger or potential danger. Fear can only exist in response to something (called a stimulus). The stimulus is present, you become scared.
Phobias are irrational fears. It makes sense to be afraid of poisonous spiders, it doesn't necessarily make sense to be immensely afraid of NON-POISONOUS spiders. It makes sense to be afraid while standing 150 ft. up a ladder, but not so much 3 ft. However, with a phobia, you still need SOMETHING to be scared of (the stimulus).
Anxiety is an irrational fear WITHOUT the presence of a stimulus. If it is ok to be afraid of poisonous spiders, and less acceptable to be afraid of non-poisonous spiders, someone with anxiety may not leave their house because there MIGHT be a spider in a tree that they MIGHT have to walk under.
How do dogs respond to fear ?
Fight, flight or freeze. Many of us realize that when a dog tucks its tail and tries to run away and hide, that is it fearful. However, not as many of us realize that when a dog reacts aggressively (such as a reactive dog on leash) or bossy (such as a bully at daycare or the dog park) that they may ALSO be fearful. These dogs have learned that flight isn't an option or was not a very successful option in the past. Other dogs will freeze up, which we often see at the veterinary hospital when dogs come in for an exam.
So what do we do with fearful dogs ?
#1. LEARN to recognize what your dog is fearful of. Noises, strangers, other dogs, garbage bins, skateboards, etc.
#2. DO NOT FORCE THEM to interact with what they are afraid of. Dragging a child into the arms of a clown will not make them un-afraid of clowns. If your dog is scared of strange people or unfamiliar dogs, they DO NOT need to interact with them. This attitude that our dogs need to meet everyone and every dog is just unrealistic.
#3. KEEP your distance. Most dogs will not get upset if the scary stimulus is far enough away. Spiders aren't as scary when they are on the other side of a baseball field, and clowns aren't as scary when they are in a different province The distances will be different for each dog, but the distance your dog needs is the distance that doesn't cause them to have a reaction to the stimulus.
#4. ALLOW your dog choice. If your dog wants to leave, leave. If your dog wants to approach, let them approach. They might change their mind part way through, this is OK as well. Anxiety stems from the thought process of not having control and choice. Giving your dog the choice to approach or not can help greatly with fear issues.
(This is NOT recommended for ANY dog that reacts aggressively or is in a highly excited state. If your dog can’t control itself, it does not get to say “hi” regardless of what they want to do. They lose the option of choice when they lose control of themselves.)
#5. TEACH the dog to associate their fears with positive emotions. Feed treats when strangers are nearby. Play a game of tug or fetch when your dog sees a skateboarders. In order for this to work, your dog needs to be more interested in whatever you have than whatever is scaring them. If your dog is taking the treat but eyeballing the stranger, it will not be successful. In this situation, you need a better reward and/or more distance from the scary stimulus.
Other things that contribute to fear
Owners – Yes, us. Our own emotions are being projected onto our dogs. We see on social media dogs running away, getting injured, choking on food, getting their leashes caught in elevators and so on. As a result, we micromanage our animals and panic over everything. I actually once saw a warning to protect your dogs from the WIND. Yes, the wind. !! “Did you know that the wind can break a tree branch off and it will fall and hit your dog in the head ? Or rip out your fence and your dog will run away and get hit by a car. When it is windy, it is recommended that you use lavender essential oils, a thundershirt and play relaxing music to calm your dog.” This kind of junk being spread around social media makes owners anxious, and as a result dogs are being micromanaged and feeling our anxiety in certain situations.
Socialization - Lack of socialization or too many negative experiences. Sometimes I wonder if no socialization is better than bad socialization. When a dog has an experience with a new situation, one of three things can happen. It can be positive, it can be neutral, or it can be negative. Positive and neutral experiences create less fear, negative experiences create more fear. Socialization needs to change to a quality and not quantity mentality. Do not expose your puppy to as much as you can as fast as you can. Exposure should be positive, at the dog’s pace. Remember the choice rule. Not all people are good with dogs, and not all dogs are good with each other. If you can prevent your dog from interacting with the well-meaning (but negative) dogs and people out there, you’ll have a much more confident dog.
The Dog – Genetics plays a role too. Some breeds are less social because that is how they were bred to be. Some dogs have anti-social parents, or may have had negative interactions with their own dam and litter mates. Some dogs are shy, just as some people are shy. An owner with a fearful dog needs to realize that some of that fear may have come pre-programmed.
**Danielle is available for private consultations, please email us for information
– Danielle LeFort, RVT
The first ingredient on a pet food label list is the heaviest, so if it says meat that means the food is mostly meat. While it is true that ingredients are listed by weight, we need to know if the meat was weighed before being dehydrated (which does not state on the bag). Compare a chicken breast with a dehydrated chicken jerky strip, and you’ll see that once the water is removed, there isn’t much chicken (by weight) left over ;) Dry ingredients will not change much in weight after being processed.
Corn is bad. Corn is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are simple and complex sugars. Sugar is a form of short term energy. Fat is another form of short term energy. Protein is a form of long term energy. In the end, they are all forms of energy that the body can use to perform certain functions. Sometimes we need energy quickly (comes from sugars and fats) and sometimes we need longer acting energy (protein). Animals and people need them all in moderation.
Corn is not digestible. We have all know that if you eat corn on the cob, you’re going to see corn kernels in your feces the next day. We have been told that corn is not digestible because this is what we see in ourselves. However, what you’re not told is that the corn kernels you see in the feces are the ones that weren’t CHEWED. The shell of the corn is not very digestible, but once you break, chew or grind the corn, it’s just as digestible as any other carbohydrate.
Corn causes cancer. Cancer thrives on carbohydrates, corn is a carbohydrate. Corn will not CAUSE cancer. However, if your animal HAS cancer, the cancer will feed on any carb the body takes in, including corn. There are cancer diets that are specifically designed to be carbohydrate deficient while being prolific in fat and protein.
Dogs and cats are carnivores, they are designed to eat meat. Cats and dogs belong to the order “Carnivora”, but so does the Giant Panda who eats strictly bamboo. Humans belong to the order “Primate”, but that doesn’t make us monkeys, or does it ? Dogs are omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores. Dogs have a longer intestinal system than cats which is used to digest plant fibres. To compare, a rabbit has a longer intestinal system than a dog, and a cow has four stomachs. A more developed GI system is to be able to handle the increased length of time it takes to break down plant fibres. Dogs also have more molars than cats, and molars are the grinding teeth that are used to grind up plant material.
A pet that eats raw food has smaller and harder stool because more of the food is digested rather than excreted in the feces. A pet that eats raw food is eating meat that is up to 80% water (animal muscle and tissue are composed of up to 80% water, the same as our own muscle and tissue). The stool is small and hard because all the water went into the urine rather than staying in the feces.
My dog has allergies, it must be the food. Only 10-30% of allergies are food related. 70-90% of allergies are environmental. Changing the food will only be effective if you change to a food that addresses skin health and integrity AND uses a novel protein source. Even then, the allergies may persist or evolve over time and require regular medical intervention.
PET FOOD BASICS – Danielle LeFort, RVT
What food should I feed ?
Everyone has something to say about pet food. For every food that someone loves, someone else hates it. For every animal who does well on a food, another animal has diarrhea or itchy skin. Is there such a thing as a perfect pet food for our pets? The answer is YES, but it depends on your pet, not the food.
Why do some animals do well on Ol’ Roy while others need the most expensive, grain free antioxidant laden gourmet that needs to be imported from Belgium ?
My rule of thumb (and what I tell my veterinary assistant students) is that a food is good for a healthy animal if the following conditions are met:
* The animal is not too fat
* The animal is not too thin
* The animal is not vomiting or having diarrhea
* The animal is not losing excessive fur or has excessively itchy skin
It’s that simple. Feed your pet what THEY do well on, not what you think they should be on.
Now if your animal has a health condition: allergies, orthopedic, organ function decline, cancer, etc you need to feed a food tailored to that health condition. If your pet has more than 1 health issue, you feed to address the most serious health issue, which would be the one that most seriously affects the quality or length of their life.
Grocery Store, Pet Specialty Store or Veterinary Diets ?
Again, are they doing well ? I feed my adult dog grocery store brand, my adult cat pet specialty store brand and my geriatric cat a veterinary diet. They all have different needs that are satisfied by different foods. I would love to be able to purchase all my food in one place, but why pay more for veterinary diets that my pets don’t need or pay less for food that isn’t right for my geriatric kitty ?
Pay attention to the “AAFCO statement”. Look for a food that has been “AAFCO feeding trial FED” rather than “AAFCO formulated” – feeding trial fed food means it was fed to animals for a determined amount of time to ensure it met the nutritional levels before it was released into the market – formulated food may never have been fed to animal before hitting the market
If it says “complete and balanced” then it is nutritionally adequate – Complete means there are all the nutrients an animal needs in there and balanced means there are enough for a 24 hour feeding period. Some foods say “complete” but not “balanced”, which means all the nutrients are there but not in sufficient quantities for a 24 hour period.
I love this time of year. I can stock up on pumpkin (here's why) really cheaply, the fall colors, the smells, the food, the family. It's a time, for me of reflection, new beginnings/determinations and gratitude.
My dogs make my list daily. Making treats that are chemical free and made from food I would consume myself doesn't seem to be that big of a stretch for me. Dog treats are easy, affordable, something you can do with your human kiddos too.
Here's a couple of recipes made from left overs.... Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you to all the new families, friends and supports. It's been an amazing year!
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 large eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water