Recipes: Dog Treats

There is an entire shelf in my pantry devoted to canine fare that Lola, my one-year old Boston Terrier/French Bulldog mix, has refused. At one time the selection included Chew-eez, Yam Goods (okay, I'm not a fan of yams either), Greenies, Dentastix, Nylabones, Busy Bones, Mini Jumbones, Oinkies, Canyon Creek Ranch Chicken Tenders, and MarroBones (with real bone marrow...mmmm). She will, however, eat nuts, fruit (no bananas), cheese, bread, peanut butter and egg yolks - no whites (clever girl). So when I ran across a couple of recipes for homemade dog treats recently - all of which contained ingredients I'd seen her eat at one time or the other, I figured it was worth a try. I chose two that looked appealing to me: Peanut Butter Bites and Cheddar Squares.

In addition to Lola, my expert testing panel included my parents' dachshunds Weena and Louie. Louie, age three, nicknamed "Bob Barker" for his vocal abilities, may be the only dog I know with a more distinguished palate than Lola. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Weena, age 12, who suffers from Cushing's disease. One of the symptoms of the disorder is an insatiable appetite. Basically, Weena will eat anything, so she was moral support.

The recipes, after the jump.

Cheddar Squares

(The original version of this recipe may have been a misprint, because ratio of dry to wet ingredients resulted in something that can only be described as cheese-flecked-cement. I tossed the cheesy boulder and adjusted the ingredients to the amounts listed below).

  • 1 1/3 cup unsweetened all-natural applesauce
  • 1 cup reduced fat or skim milk cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix applesauce, water and ¾ cup cheddar cheese. Slowly add flour to wet mixture. Mix well. Spread batter into a greased 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle leftover cheese on top and bake for additional 5-10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and cut into small, bite-size portions. (Prep Time: seven minutes. Yield: 30-40 portions.)

The Verdict: The warm slab of flatbread that emerged from the oven looked like a chic bistro appetizer, and tasted (a little) like sourdough bread. The end result reminded me of cold pizza crust, so naturally it was a hit with all three dogs. What's more, the prep work for this recipe was a breeze. I would definitely make these again.

Peanut Butter Bites (From Doggie Desserts: Delicious Homemade Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs, Doral Publishing, 2001, by Cheryl Gianfrancesco)

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup creamy, all-natural peanut butter (no salt or sugar)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl mix oil, honey, water and baking powder. Beat in eggs and peanut butter. Slowly mix all ingredients together and knead on a lightly floured surface until firm. Roll out dough ½ an inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on a greased baking sheet, leaving ½ inch of space between cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Let cool for at two hours to harden before serving. (Prep time: 30 minutes. Yield: 20-30 cookies - depending on size of your cookie cutter)

The Verdict: The dough for these cookies is very, very firm -- modeling-clay firm, only drier. Water had to be added during the kneading and rolling process to make it more pliable. Getting it to a ½ inch...let's just say you can skip the weights at the gym for the day. The final product looked great, but texture reminded me of a Milk Bone. I was immediately skeptical as to how they would go over with the anti-Milk Bone panel. To my surprise the dogs went nuts over these rock-hard biscuits, even jumping up and begging by the counter long after they were doled out.

Due to the effort (and workout) this recipe calls for, I would probably not make these regularly. But with creative packaging, they would make a great gift for a dog lover.

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