When baking and cooking dog treats, choosing the right ingredients is perhaps the most important step. It may sound obvious but we have to make absolutely sure that the ingredients we use are natural, safe, and healthy for dogs. If possible, use organic ingredients.
I don't know about you, but when I first started making dog treats for my dog, I looked at some recipes on the Internet and cookbooks, and sometimes came across recipes that called for ingredients that seemed to me "problematic".
If you have had the same experience, you'd be glad to know that all dog treat ingredients suggested on this site have been carefully studied in terms of their safety and nutritional values for dogs, so you don't have to worry whether it is OK to use them or not.
However, having said that, this should be taken as a general guideline only. The fact is, all dogs are different and while the ingredients suggested here are safe and nutritious, some dogs may still be allergic to some of these ingredients! If your dog is the super-sensitive type, and if you are using the ingredient(s) for the first time, give your dog a small amount first and watch out for any allergic reactions.
As wheat and corn are common allergens for dogs, I do not recommend using wheat flour and corn meal. There are a variety of wheat flour substitutes (both with gluten and gluten-free) that are healthy and nutrient-packed and can be used for baking dog treats. See this page for more information.
There are a lot of delicious and healthy fillings to choose from for homemade dog treats. You will notice that I use a lot of vegetables and fruits, such as the following, in my dog treat recipes:
Other fillings that are good for dogs include:
Of course, meat can be used to make healthy dog treats, as they are the ultimate sources of animal protein on which dogs thrive. Chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb are good choices.
Some fish can also be used - see which ones are safe for dogs here.
Certain cheese can also be added to make dog treats like biscuits.
How about bacon? Many people like to put bacon in their dog treats, but I cannot recommend that. Bacon is high in sodium and low in nutritional value. There are also controversies over whether the nitrates in cured meats such as bacon are harmful to health. As we can use fresh meats in dog treats, why risk using something that contributes little or no health benefits and can be potentially harmful to our dogs?
Seeds (e.g. chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds) are nutritious and good for dogs. Dogs also love the nutty flavor and crunchiness of some of these seeds.
Herbal biscuits... Yummy! The good thing is, since different herbs and spices have different therapeutic properties (e.g. immune boosting, anti-bacterial, etc.), you can pick and choose the ones that can benefit your dogs most and incorporate them into your dog treat recipes, and voila, you will have a treat that is not only delicious but also health enhancing!
Some herbs and spices that can be used as dog treat ingredients include:
It is a known fact that dogs like sweet foods, but it is also a fact that sugar is not good for dogs. What's more, the artificial sweetener xylitol is even toxic for dogs.
Does that mean we cannot sweeten our dog treats? (Pleaze say "No", my dog says...)
Fortunately for our dogs (Yay!), there are quite a few natural sweeteners that can be used to give dog treats that sweet taste most dogs would die for. For example:
Organic coconut nectar is made from coconut sap and is widely available online and in stores.
As you can see, there are a lot of healthy and natural ingredients to use for making yummy and health-enhancing dog treats. Be creative and use different ingredients every time to dazzle your dog!