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Which pet treats are safe?

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Earlier this week Petco and PetSmart announced their plan to pull from their shelves all pet treats made in China. With others sure to follow suit, many pet owners are wondering what treats are still safe.

In their May 20 press release, Petco offered this suggestion: "Pet parents looking for alternatives to China-made dog or cat treats will find a broad selection of USA-made products at Petco from brands like American Jerky, Blue Buffalo, Blue Ridge Naturals, Canidae, Colorado Naturals, Dogswell, Isle of Dog, Merrick, Natural Balance, Nature’s Variety, Prairie Dog, Zuke’s and more."

You know what else is made in the U.S.A.? Whatever you make in your own kitchen.

Renowned dog trainer Cesar Milan cites the following benefits of homemade treats:

  • Control what goes into the recipe. You can ensure that your pet is getting a nutritious and wholesome snack. You can also tailor your dog treat recipes to your dog’s taste preferences as well as cater to any dietary restrictions.
  • Prevent unhealthy additives. Many brands of commercial dog treats are filled with preservatives, which help to extend their shelf life. In addition, store bought treats are often made from fillers and byproducts as opposed to natural and high quality ingredients. By creating your own treats at home, you will be able to provide your dog with a healthy snack that is not only nutritious but is also free of unhealthy additives.

Even homemade treats can be unsafe if not handled properly. Keep in mind any allergies that your pet has to specific ingredients. Store treats in an airtight container in the freezer where they can last for up to 6 months. Thaw at least 10 minutes before serving.

Ready to get started? Here are two of Cesar Milan's recipes that look paw-sitively yummy (if you're a dog).

Frozen Peanut Butter Yogurt Dog Treats
Melt 1 cup of peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Combine the melted peanut butter with 32 ounces of vanilla yogurt and freeze in muffin tins.

Basic Dog Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour (substitute regular flour or oats if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
  • 1 tsp. salt (or less)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. beef or chicken bouillon granules (can substitute beef or chicken broth/stock)
  • ½ cup hot water

Optional Add ins:

  • Bacon or chicken broth, eggs, oats, wheat germ, shredded cheese, bacon bits

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Dissolve bouillon in hot water
  3. Add remaining ingredients
  4. Knead dough until it forms a ball (approximately 3 minutes)
  5. Roll dough until ½ inch thick
  6. Cut into slices or shapes
  7. Place dough pieces on lightly greased cookie sheet
  8. Bake for 30 minutes

The next time you need to restock on treats, you may find all you need right at home. So grab an apron, raid your pantry and see what happens. Your dog will thank you!

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