Dogs love treats, but buying pre-packaged food treats can be expensive, and their quality is sometimes questionable. Fortunately, making dog treats at home is easy and cheap, and as an added advantage, you will know exactly what you are giving your canine companion. Remember, though, that even though these homemade treats are good for dogs, they are TREATS, so don’t overfeed them.
You can make basic dog biscuits either for a treat or as a staple food. When shaped like a bone, biscuits of this type are often called Milk Bones. The ingredients are extremely flexible, and the amounts you use depend entirely on how many you want to make and how big you make them. The following recipe is a good starter that you can adjust to suit your dog and the ingredients you have on hand.
2 cups white, all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk powder
1 handful of grated cheese
Add beef or other stock to the mix – about 1 cup
- Preheat the oven to 320F (160C).
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Add enough stock to form a stiff pastry consistency.
- Roll out to about 1/4 inch (2.5 mm).
- Cut the pastry into shapes using a knife or pastry cutter. Rectangles, triangles, and squares work well, or you can use a special bone-shaped or another cutter. The size of the biscuits depends on the size of the dog – cut small for a small dog and larger for a large dog.
- Place the biscuits on a greased tray in the preheated oven.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- For a large dog that is happy eating rock-hard biscuits, turn off the oven but do not open the door, and leave the treats in the oven to cool, preferably overnight.
- For a small dog or one that cannot eat rock-hard biscuits, turn off the oven and take the tray out immediately and allow it to cool.
This recipe can be adjusted in many ways. For example, you can use whole milk instead of milk powder, and then reduce the volume of stock or use stock powder. You can use whole wheat flour instead of white, or replace some of the flour with oats. Other additions include garlic and brewer’s yeast (which will help repel fleas) small pieces of liver or liver strips, peanut butter, or mashed pumpkin.
Dried Liver Treats
Pre-packaged liver treats are widely available, but making your own is simple and the cost is only a fraction of those you can buy.
To make the treats using a regular oven:
- Buy a piece of calf, ox, or lamb’s liver and place it in the freezer for about half an hour to harden the liver and make it easier to slice.
- Preheat the oven to medium heat (300F or 150C).
- Remove the liver from the freezer and slice it thinly (no thicker than 1/4 inch or 2.5 mm).
- Lay the liver strips on a rack and place a tray or pan underneath the rack to catch any drips.
- Place the rack and tray in the preheated oven and close the door.
- After 20-25 minutes turn off the heat.
- For a large dog or one that has no problems with hard treats, do not open the oven door and leave until the oven is completely cold (preferably overnight).
- For a small dog or one that cannot manage rock-hard treats, take the liver strips out of the oven now, leave them to cool and then cut them into small pieces.
An alternative method is to dry the liver strips in a dehydrator instead of the oven.
Basic biscuits and well-dried liver treats store well in zip lock bags. They will last a long time and do not need to be refrigerated. Your dog will love them.