I think that it’s important for me to take this opportunity to make a clear distinction between the dog “treats” that I typically make and discuss on this blog and “dog food.” Just like humans, dogs should have balanced diets. According to the ASPCA, “treats should make up only 5 to 10 percent of your pet’s diet–the rest should come from a nutritionally complete pet food.” Quality commercial dog food is specifically formulated (by veterinarians and nutritionists) to give your dog the vitamins and nutrients that he or she needs to be healthy. It’s important to always be conscious that treats are special snacks that should not in any way be considered a substitute for your dog’s regular food.
Baking homemade dog treats can be a fun and rewarding experience if you just use common sense. I like to approach treats for dogs in the same way that you should approach dessert for humans. A special treat is perfectly fine in moderation but can do harm if eaten in excess. For example, a pupcake with cream cheese frosting or a cheesy biscuit is totally okay if it’s given very sparingly as a special reward; you will, however, inevitably give your doggie an upset stomach if you load him or her up with too large or too many dairy-laden treats. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I know from experience that when you love your pet and want them to feel pampered it can be very easy to overdo it. Simply exercise good judgment, and if you’re ever in doubt, consult your veterinarian.
Similar to the manner in which you would slowly integrate a new type of dog food into your pet’s diet, it’s best to introduce any new treat in very small amounts. Just like humans, some dogs can have allergies to foods or ingredients that are considered safe and healthy for the general population. When you are baking a treat recipe for the first time or trying a new ingredient, be sure to give your dog only a small taste at first and keep an eye out to make sure that they have no negative reactions. The most common allergic reactions are vomiting, diarrhea, and itchy skin. Obviously, if you notice any of these symptoms, stop giving your dog the treats, and if there’s any type of severe reaction, call your veterinarian immediately.
If you ever have any feedback or questions (in reference to a post or recipe on this blog or just a general question), please leave me a comment. I’m no expert, but I’m always happy to do a little research to try to find an answer to your questions about canine health.