People love candy-coated treats, and our furry canine friends do, too. Unfortunately, treats made for people, which are often loaded with sugar and other ingredients that are not healthy for dogs, are suited only for human consumption. However, making a fun, special treat with dog-safe ingredients is easy, and Fido will love to receive them as a reward for his good behavior.
It's no secret that dogs love the taste of peanut butter, so peanut butter is a must-have flavor in your dog's treats. Use an all-natural variety that is free of added sugars. In addition to peanut butter, a bit of unsweetened natural applesauce lightly sweetens the treat, while olive oil keeps it moist. Eggs are used to bind the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, combine a half cup of chunky or smooth natural peanut butter, a half cup of unsweetened applesauce, a tablespoon of olive oil and one egg and mix on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Whole-wheat flour, which contains ample amounts of healthy dietary fiber, as well as powdered milk, will turn the liquid batter into a thick dough that can be cut into the perfect size for your dog.
Add in one cup of whole-wheat flour and 1/2 cup of powdered milk into the liquid mixture and beat on low to incorporate the ingredients. The dough will become very thick.
Refrigerating the finished dough makes it firm enough to be cut into shapes. Refrigerate the dough in a covered container for about an hour before you attempt to cut it. While you wait for the dough to cool, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Once cooled and firm, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut out treats that are appropriate to your dog's size, then place the treats on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake the treats on the middle rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges of the treats begin to turn light brown. Cool the finished treats on a cooling rack for about an hour or until they reach room temperature.
Candy-coated treats made for people are often covered in chocolate. However, dogs cannot have chocolate because chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that is safe for people but extremely toxic to dogs. Instead of chocolate, treats for dogs can be coated in carob. Carob chips, which look and taste very similar to traditional chocolate chips but have none of the toxic effects, can be melted down in the microwave with a bit of vegetable shortening and used as a delicious coating for your homemade dog treats.
Place two cups of carob chips and one teaspoon of vegetable shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 50 percent, or medium, power in 30-second intervals, stirring intermittently until all the carob is melted and smooth. Either with your hand or using a toothpick, dunk cooled treats into the melted carob and then place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for up to an hour to allow the carob to properly harden. Feed the treats occasionally to your pup to reward good behavior.
Store the finished treats in a lidded container or zippered bag at room temperature for up to two weeks. The treats can also be stored in the freezer in a zippered freezer bag for up to three months. Let the treats thaw for an hour prior to serving them to your pet.
Leeann Teagno has been writing professionally since 2006. An English major, she continues to study information systems management at American Public University. Teagno is an organic gardener, cook and technology buff with past employment in mobile communications. She also volunteers at an animal shelter and operates a home bakery.