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Make your own doggone good treats

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 9:08 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 8:38 p.m. CST
(Gretchen McKay – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Sophie McKay enjoys a plate of peanut butter and buckwheat kisses.
(Gretchen McKay – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Peanut butter and buckwheat kisses.

If you’re head over heels in love your dog – and these days in pet-obsessed America, who isn’t? – you can show it with treats.

If you’re even the tiniest bit comfortable in the kitchen, you can make some doggone good pet cuisine yourself at home, in some cases at a fraction of the cost with ingredients you already have in your pantry.

It’s almost as easy as ripping open a bag of Snausages, and a heck of a lot healthier for your dog, whose nutritional needs are important, too. Besides, it’s fun, especially if you get the kids involved.

You do have to be extremely careful about the ingredients. Tempting as it is to simply scrape what’s left of tonight’s dinner into the dog dish, not all leftovers are created equal. Onions, for example, can make dogs anemic, while even a single serving of grapes or raisins can lead to rapid renal (kidney) failure. Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis, while raw yeast dough could expand in your pet’s digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines. Chocolate can make dogs extremely sick.

With help from three new cookbooks geared toward pets, we’ve come up with a few treats – all made with “people food” – that you can feel good about feeding your dog and that won’t gross out your kids while making them.

“A balanced, homemade varied diet for your dog keeps your dog healthy, happy, and out of the veterinarian’s office,” writes Gayle Pruitt in “Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch.”

Beefy red hearts

Plain, unflavored gelatin can help to prevent arthritis, arthrosis and other degenerative joint disorders in dogs.

2 cups Lakewood Organic Super Veggie Juice, or other organic vegetable juice3 or 4 ice cubes7 envelopes Knox gelatin1 pint beef broth (no onions)

Pour the juice into a bowl and add ice cubes. Sprinkle gelatin over the juice; stir until gelatin has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

In a saucepan, bring beef broth to a boil. Add gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Place in a rectangular glass baking dish and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.Cut into squares or use a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Makes 2 dozen squares.– “Dog-Gone Good Cuisine” by Gayle PruittPeanut butter and buckwheat kisses

Vegetable oil for greasing

1¾ cups buckwheat flour, plus extra for dusting

½ cup and 1 tablespoon steel-cut oats

1 heaping teaspoon blackstrap molasses

½ cup boiling water

1⁄3 cup unsweetened creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Put buckwheat flour and oats into a bowl.

Measure blackstrap molasses into a small bowl. Pour boiling water over molasses and stir until dissolved. Add peanut butter and stir. Add to bowl with the flour and oats and mix together to form a soft dough. (If it is a little dry, add a few tablespoons of water.)

Lightly flour a clean work surface with additional buckwheat flour and turn out the dough onto it. Roll small pieces of dough into balls about half the size of golf balls. Put them on the prepared cookie sheet and press down gently on each ball with your thumb.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Let the kisses cool (they should be quite hard), then store them in a sealed container.

They should keep for at least a week.

– “Dinner for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for a Happy, Healthy Dog” by Henrietta Morrison.

Sweet potato biscuits

A good source of dietary fiber and vitamins B6 and C, sweet potatoes make a great base for great doggie treats. These easy biscuits get extra crunch from oatmeal. I cut them into star shapes.

1 large sweet potato, baked and mashed

1½ cups all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat)

1 egg

¼ cup rolled oats

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together and knead a few times.

Roll the dough into a thick sheet and cut out desired shape of biscuits.

Arrange all the biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and cook in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, until crunchy and golden brown.

Store them in an airtight container or sealed jar for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1 dozen biscuits.

– Adapted from “Dog Treat Cookbook: 20 Homemade Recipes Your Dog Will Love” by Wendy Wright.

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