8 Super-Healthy DIY Dog Treats for Your Best Friend

By Shannon Llewellyn and Jess Novak
|
February 11, 2022
cute brown lab receiving heart shaped treat

Americans are known for indulging the heck out of our dogs — in fact, in a recent poll, nearly half of respondents admitted to spoiling their dogs more than they do their romantic partner. And that was before the pandemic, which afforded us the unabashed (and therapist-approved) freedom to pamper our pets even more than we already had. So if your precious pup gained a little weight over the last couple of years, you’re not alone. In fact, one third of owners with an overweight pet say that their pet became overweight during the pandemic. It makes sense: We’ve been eating more treats, so of course we’re feeding out pets a bit more, too.

Read next: 7 Deceptively “Healthy” Foods That Actually… Aren’t

If you’ve been overindulging your sweet little pup a little too much, consider swapping out your dog’s normal treats for these healthier options. All of these recipes have been carefully selected and contain only safe ingredients, but a word of warning for homemade dog treats in general: Avoid peanut butters that contain a common sweetener called xylitol, which can be harmful to dogs, and avoid feeding your dog common human foods that are toxic to pups, including avocados, tomatoes, cherries, grapes, raisins, mushrooms, garlic, and onions.

These recipes offer some tasty ways to indulge your canine companion that are also very good for them — they’re a great way to show your chonky chihuahua or beefy basset hound some love while helping them get back to a healthy weight.

1.    Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal Dog Treats

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal Dog Treats

If you’re new to baking, bond with your favorite beast over this super easy, three-ingredient treat recipe that tastes just like homemade oatmeal cookies. Oatmeal is high in fiber and full of complex B- vitamins, and the cinnamon appeals to their sensitive noses (and is good for dogs’ heart health). Applesauce provides just the right amount of natural sweetness without any added sugars.

 2.    Dried Banana Dog Chews

Dried Banana Dog Chews

Image credit: Petful

These single-ingredient banana treats are high in fiber and are good for the pooch who could use a little extra help getting their proverbial poop together. These treats are easy to peel, prep, and bake. Let the banana strips air dry for maximum chewiness. However, they will turn brown as they age, so you can brush them with lemon juice to retain their pale yellow color. They’re also a good source of vitamin B6, which helps support your dog’s brain health

 3.   Grain-Free Pumpkin Dog Treats 

Grain-Free Pumpkin Dog Treats

Image credit: Pups with Chopsticks

If your dog has trouble digesting gluten, chickpea flour is an excellent swap for regular flour — and it works well in most recipes, too. This grain-free recipe is also egg-free, since the pumpkin works as a binder. Pumpkin is fiber-rich and famously excellent for dog’s digestive health. For extra-crunchy treats, let them cool in the oven after baking. 

 4.    Homemade Blueberry and Banana Dog Biscuits 

Homemade Blueberry and Banana Dog Biscuits

These healthy treats are lightly sweetened with blueberry and banana, but given the hearty addition of oats and peanut butter, they’re effectively canine granola bars. They’re energizing treats that travel great for road trips and all-day adventures, and they’re super healthy, too — blueberries have been shown in a veterinary study to help dogs recover after a serious workout, so if you and your pup have been going on a lot of hikes, consider these. 

5.    Low-Calorie Spinach Dog Treats

Low-Calorie Spinach Dog Treats 

If pandemic pounds got to your pooch, try this delicious, low-calorie treat that works great as a training tool, too. These treats are loaded with wheat germ, which is rich in vitamins B and E, and spinach, which contains vitamins C and E, which are great for your dog’s immune system. Spinach is a very healthy treat and good for your dog in moderation. However, if your dog suffers from kidney disease, avoid feeding them spinach, which contains oxalates — and even if your dog is perfectly healthy, it’s a good idea to avoid feeding them buckets of the stuff. 

6.    Spoiled Dog Cake Recipe

Spoiled Dog Cake Recipe

Image credit: Love From The Oven

“National Spoil Your Dog Day” may not be until August 10th, but you can celebrate your sweet pup any time of year — their birthday or adoptaversary deserve to be marked, too. For dogs who are gluten-free, feel free to swap the flour in this recipe for chickpea flour, and consider baking into smaller “pupcakes” for easy sharing. We love that the frosting in this pupcake recipe is made with Greek yogurt, which is full of probiotics to help your dog’s digestive tract.

7.    Soft Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Soft Peanut Butter Dog Treats

If your older dog needs a little extra help enjoying snacks and treats due to soft gums or other dental issues, these dog treats will stay soft even when they are fully cooled. Plus, these soft pumpkin dog treats have healthy, energizing ingredients including peanut butter, which is a great source of plant-based protein.

8.   Frozen Banana and Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Frozen Banana-and-Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Image credit: Eat The Gains

Peanut butter isn’t just a protein source; it’s also an excellent binder to mix with other ingredients and help them stick together. This recipe also contains coconut oil, which is high in healthy fats, and is totally healthy for dogs in moderation. Make and store these in the freezer and pop one or two out on a hot day as a treat (or after an exhausting round of frisbee).

Read next: An M.D. Shares Her Go-to Healthy Meal Plan (Including the Tasty Recipes)

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