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All dogs love getting treats, and it’s really hard to resist those sweet puppy eyes. My dog, Daisy, (that’s her picture above back from when she was just a baby) gets so excited whenever I give her a treat, but when I started eating healthier, more natural food myself, I realized that most of the treats I was giving her were basically the doggy equivalent to processed junk food.
Since I didn’t want her to be eating a lot of fake stuff, I wanted to find some options that were more natural but that she would still enjoy just as much.
Here are five Daisy-approved healthy and natural treat ideas for dogs:
1) Homemade Chicken Jerky
Daisy loves chicken jerky strips, but after hearing about the big recall of chicken jerky dog treats, I stopped giving them to her. Even if it weren’t for the recall, most store bought chicken jerky strips have preservatives and artificial flavorings, and the chicken is most likely from unhealthy birds raised in factory farms.
One option if your dog loves chicken jerky strips is to make your own by thinly slicing some healthy, pasture-raised chicken and drying it in a dehydrator or by using the oven at the lowest setting.
This does take a little more work than just buying a bag at the store, but it makes a good treat for special occasions.
Some dogs are pickier than others, but many dogs love their veggies. Daisy loves green beans just as much as store bought dog cookies. She also loves cucumber, and the white crunchy parts of romaine lettuce. (Just like a toddler, she won’t eat the dark leafy greens.)
Since dogs love to chew just about anything, raw crunchy veggies like carrots or beans are a good option to give them something healthier to chew.
Some types of fruit, like grapes and raisins, aren’t good for dogs to eat, but other fruits, like apples, are ones that dogs enjoy. My dog usually only likes the sweeter fruits, and she turns her nose up at ones that are more tart and sour, but she loves apple and banana slices.
4) Homemade “Ice Cream”
My dog loves eating frozen treats like Frosty Paws, but they’re not exactly the most natural treat. For another option, you can freeze some homemade chicken or beef broth, either in an ice cube tray, or in a little cup for your dog to lick out. (If you let it thaw out a little first, it will have a softer texture.)
5) Homemade “KONG” Treats
My dog loves the KONG toys where you put a treat inside and she has to work to get it out. (And I love how long it keeps her entertained so she’s not getting into mischief!) Most of the treats they sell to go with the KONG toys have a lot of fake, processed ingredients, though, especially with the squeezable cheese and peanut butter flavored spreads.
For a more natural version you could spread an organic peanut butter or another nut butter inside the toy for your dog to lick out or you could cut veggies in little pieces to stuff inside. My dog’s favorite is the KONG Puppy Binkie Toy. It looks like a little pacifier, and it’s absolutely adorable when she walks around the house with it in her mouth 🙂 If you don’t have a KONG toy, though, you could always just spread some peanut butter inside an empty jar for your dog to lick out.
What NOT to Feed Your Dog
Some of the foods you want to avoid giving to your dog are:
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
(I had a Golden Retriever several years ago who stole and ate an entire chocolate Easter bunny without getting even the least bit sick, so I’m not sure if chocolate is really as toxic for dogs as it seems, but better safe than sorry, especially if you have a really small dog.)
I’m sure I missed some other ideas. What other healthy treats do you give to your dogs and other pets? Let us know in the comments!
Further reading about having a healthy dog:
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.