A quick look at the ingredients list on a bag of dog treats is enough to make you want to train your pooch with nothing but apples and celery. The Dog Food Project, an online resource focused on educating dog-owners about pet food additives, lists an alarming number of ingredients that would make any health-conscious consumer shudder.
A popular flavoring agent is "animal digest," a cooked-down broth made from a variety of animals. Some brands use "4-D" animals, which include creatures that were diseased or died before slaughter. Ethoxyquin is a common preservative that was created by controversial biotechnoloy company Monsanto as a pesticide and has been used as a hardening agent in rubber. And don't forget the artificial colors, including red No. 4 and blue No. 2. Do you really want them in your dog's belly?
Rich and I have two dogs who are at the core of our little family. We envision them as part of our life for the foreseeable future, so keeping them healthy and feeding them well is a top priority. In that spirit, we'd like to share a healthy treat that is fully endorsed by our bulldog/boxer mix Cabby (pictured) and our black lab mutt Kudzu (who was not ready for his close-up).
Our treats are made from whole wheat flour, carrots, bananas and parsley — all inexpensive ingredients that we had in the house. The process is similar to making cookies and the snacks are ready in less than an hour.
Training our pups is an ongoing process, so having a treat that they crave is essential. These vegetarian snacks are packed with vegetables and not much else, so doling out multiple goodies on a long walk won't lead to a stern weight-loss conversation at the vet.
Chemical-laden dog food doesn't have to be the norm; show your pets how much you love them by cooking up some healthy and simple treats. You'll save some cash and maybe even your pet's health in the process.
Carrot and parsley dog treats
1 cup carrots
1 cup parsley
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cold water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
Preheat oven to 350º.
Mash peeled bananas in large mixing bowl.
Finely chop carrots and parsley (or pulse in a food processor with the honey) and add to bowl.
Combine dry ingredients and add to banana mixture.
Add remaining wet ingredients and combine until a workable dough forms.
Flour surface and roll out dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
Use cookie cutter to cut dough into shapes and arrange on greased cookie sheet. Many Asheville bakeries have bone-shaped cookie cutters. We got ours from Three Dog Bakery.
Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and leave biscuits in oven for another 30 minutes or until cool and crisp.
— Jen Orris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.