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"What says love better than food?" Rover's resident dog chef Kiki Kane said in an interview with Insider Reviews.
Food is one way we can share our love and bond with others, especially our pets. Sure, most of us feed our pets high-quality dog food, but making homemade dog treats is a fun, special way to really surprise them.
Kane's rescue dog, Rudy, inspired her to cook for dogs and become a canine chef. "Rudy was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, and this wonderful dog was wasting away," she said. She started with meatloaf as a topper and it worked wonders on his attitude and weight. She learned everything she could about cooking for dogs and how accessible it is. "It's like cooking for people minus the fat and sugar," Kane said.
For this article, Kane shared five of her favorite recipes, including Two-Ingredient Treats, Very Berry Non-Dairy Ice Cream for Dogs, Banana Bread for Dogs, Apple Bites, and Pizza Bites. I really enjoyed cooking them for my two hounds — they deserve it. My dogs loved all of them but had a favorite. Some of the recipes can be shared with humans, including the banana bread and sorbet (just add some rum or tequila, if you prefer). They're also sugar- and fat-free.
Some of these treats are better for warmer temperatures, and others are perfect for any season. You can also save one or two for special occasions like your dog's birthday or their "gotcha day" (adoption day). Even if you don't bake regularly, these recipes are easy enough for beginners.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Total Time: 34 minutes
Yield: 8 dozen small cookies
1 4-ounce jar of baby food (I used banana)
1 cup flour
Final thoughts: With a brush, you can use fish oil to make the treats even more delicious for your dogs.
Did the dogs love it? The dogs loved this treat because it was crunchy. Texture can be a big thing with my dogs and they like treats that have a substantial crunch.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1.5 cups
1 cup mixed berries (we used strawberry, blueberry, and blackberry)
1/2 cup cold water
Final thoughts: Put these into the freezer for 30 minutes for the desired texture. You can also use ice cubes instead of cold water.
Did the dogs love it? At first, they hesitated. They didn't understand that they needed to lick it rather than try to chew it. Then the sorbet disappeared in a few minutes!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Dairy-free Servings: 4 mini loaves
1 cup oat flour (DIY tip: Pulse rolled oats in the food processor for about a minute to make your own)
1 cup AP or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 cup milk (We used unsweetened coconut milk. You could use any dog-friendly milk or even just water.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas (You can roast them up a bit in the oven first for a little extra caramelization)
Final thoughts: This bread was a huge hit with my dogs. I also ate an entire load with honey.
Did the dogs love it? There was so much of it leftover. I gave the dogs slices of the bread with each of their meals and even crumbled some as a topped on their kibble.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 48 cookies
2 apples, cored and diced (I used jazz apples)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cups all-purpose flour (oat flour works great too)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk
Optional: 1/4 cup grated parmesan or cheddar
*Tinfoil is a fine replacement for parchment paper.
Final thoughts: These end up looking like apple pie cookies, and your kitchen will smell amazing after they come out of the oven.
Did the dogs love it? Sherman, my beagle, was a huge fan. I needed to break up the bites into a few pieces for both dogs. It's easier to drop a larger portion onto the tray rather than break it up into tiny pieces before cooking.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 29 minutes
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat, but any kind will do)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons plain tomato paste or puree
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
Water as needed to finish dough (we used 3 tablespoons)
Stand mixer with dough hook attachment (I used a fork and a large mixing bowl and it worked fine)
2 parchment lined cookie sheets
Final thoughts: The consistency is not cookie dough, so make sure you have a nice cookie cutter with sharp edges to work with.
Did the dogs love it? The smell that filled the kitchen had the dogs begging for a bite before they even left the oven. I baked these for exactly 14 minutes, and the dogs liked the chewy consistency.