Holiday Gift Guide

6 Recipes to Cook for Your Pet

A Schnauzer wearing a chef's hat.A Schnauzer wearing a chef's hat.
A Schnauzer wearing a chef's hat.A Schnauzer wearing a chef's hat.

Table of Contents:

  1. Should I Feed My Pet Homemade Food?
  2. Risks of Homemade Pet Food
  3. 3 Recipes for Homemade Dog Treats
  4. 3 Recipes for Homemade Cat Treats
  5. Guidelines for Cooking Pet Food and Treats
  6. Talk to Your Vet

Cooking and shopping for yourself and your family can often feel like a full-time job. Add pets to the mix and that job gets even more daunting. While some pet parents prepare every meal for their four-legged family members, most opt to avoid that extra effort. November 1st is National Cook for Your Pet Day and the perfect opportunity to skip the pet store, roll up your sleeves, and cook up some food for your pet.

Thinking of celebrating this year? Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a first-time cook, here’s what you should know about pets and homemade food.

Should I Feed My Pet Homemade Food?

Saving trips to the store while catering to your pet’s particular tastes sounds like a win-win, but the doctors at Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Medical Center note that homemade food isn’t always a great idea.

The University’s Dr. Lisa Freeman notes that the following types of pets should almost always steer clear of homemade meals:

  • Puppies and kittens
  • Pregnant or nursing pets
  • Overweight dogs and cats

Freeman also notes that dogs are much more likely than cats to enjoy homemade meals. So, don’t be offended if your cat turns up their whiskers at the dinner you prepared.

Risks of Homemade Pet Food

The foods you’ll find on pet store shelves (the good ones, at least) are carefully developed to provide a balanced diet. They offer a suite of essential vitamins and minerals to ensure your pet gets everything they need to thrive. What’s more, packaged foods make it simple to account for the ways your pet’s nutritional needs will change with age. Cooking at home, it’s easy to miss out on key ingredients. While a few unbalanced meals aren’t the end of the world, they can wreak havoc on your dog or cat’s health over time.

Homemade foods also present the risk of allergic reaction, foodborne illness, and even poisoning. Make sure to familiarize yourself with safe and unsafe ingredients before opening up the pantry.

In general, whipping up treats as an occasional snack is safer than attempting to provide the bulk of your pet’s diet on your own. Here are a few recipes from around the web to get you started. Remember, treats should never account for a significant portion of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

3 Recipes for Homemade Dog Treats

Pawsome Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Treats

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (choose a variety without xylitol, a dangerous artificial sweetener)
  • ½ cup of canned pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Whisk together all of your ingredients, adding water as necessary to help create a workable dough
  3. Roll your dough onto a clean, lightly-floured surface
  4. Cut the dough into ½-inch thick pieces
  5. Bake treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet until are they are golden brown

Pumpkin-Ginger Pup Snacks

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ cup of pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup of water

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine your dry and wet ingredients in a large bowl, adding water as necessary to create a workable dough
  3. Roll your dough onto a clean, lightly-floured surface
  4. Cut dough into ½-inch or ¼-inch thick pieces
  5. Bake treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet until they are golden brown

Peanut Butter Pooch Bites

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ – 3 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cups of pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cups of peanut butter (choose a variety without xylitol, a dangerous artificial sweetener)

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine your wet ingredients in a large bowl
  3. Slowly add flour to your wet ingredients while combining with a spoon or electric mixer
  4. Roll your dough onto a clean, lightly-floured surface
  5. Cut dough into ½-inch or ¼-inch thick pieces
  6. Bake treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet until they are golden brown

3 Recipes for Homemade Cat Treats

Tasty Turkey Treats

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup of whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup of all-natural ground turkey
  • ½ tablespoon of olive oil

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine your ingredients in a large bowl to create a workable dough
  3. Roll out your dough on a clean, lightly-floured surface
  4. Cut down into ¼-inch pieces
  5. Bake treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet until they are golden brown

Simple Salmon Snacks

Ingredients:

  • 10-oz can of salmon
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine your ingredients in a large bowl to create a workable dough
  3. Roll out dough on a clean, lightly-floured surface
  4. Cut dough into ¼-inch thick pieces
  5. Bake treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet until they are golden brown

Tuna Treats

Ingredients:

  • 4-oz can of tuna in water
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon of catnip
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to create a workable dough
  3. Form dough into ¼-teaspoon-sized balls
  4. Bake treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet until they are golden brown

Guidelines for Cooking Pet Food and Treats

If you’ll be feeding your pet homemade treats or foods, take care to follow these guidelines for safe cooking:

Talk to Your Vet

Whether you opt for home-cooked meals, store-bought foods, or a balanced menu of the two, make sure to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

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