Don Your Apron and Become Your Canine’s Chef

Dogs seem to be lousy spellers until you spell the word t-r-e-a-t. Before we can finish the final “t,” most of our canine pals are making hairpin turns around the kitchen island and plopping into a sit in front of us as we hold a tasty homemade delight.

In our five-dog household, it is tradition to make special treats to celebrate special occasions, ranging from birthdays to shelter adoption anniversaries to accomplishments like becoming certified therapy dogs. Kona, Cleo, Jeanne, Maddie and Gracie drool with delight each time I make a homemade healthy treat just for them.

Sure, food is body fuel, but it is also serves as a marvelous motivator for generating desired behavior in our dogs. Becoming our dog’s personal chef on occasion dishes up plenty of benefits:

  • Improved trust (and delight) relationship between you and your dog.
  • A chance to hone your cooking skills (by practicing on a real chow hound).
  • Saving money on food shopping.

For these reasons and more, I worked closely with veterinarian nutritionists to create a now best-selling dog cookbook called Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes for a Healthier Dog.

So, let me unleash three of the most popular recipes from my book for you to prepare for your ever-loyal dog:

Marvelous Mutt Meatballs

This ranks as the favorite recipe by my dogs and me. You can hone your dog’s fetching skills by tossing him a few of these meatballs at dinner in place of a bowl full of kibble.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef or sirloin
  • 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste (low-sodium)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl.
  3. Scoop out by the spoonful and roll into mini-size meatballs.
  4. Place meatballs on a cookie sheet with nonfat cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Cool before serving, and store extras in a container with a lid in the refrigerator.

To demonstrate how popular these meatballs are, please click on this YouTube video link honoring Chipper’s birthday.

Tail-Wagging Turkey Pizza

Here’s a recipe you and your dog can enjoy together on a Friday night – just try not to fight over that last piece.

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup turkey broth (low-sodium)
  • Premade pizza dough for 12-inch round pan
  • 1 cup diced cooked turkey
  • ½ cup finely chopped spinach
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pour the turkey broth over the pizza dough.
  3. Sprinkle on the diced turkey, spinach and cheese.
  4. Place on a greased pizza pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Enjoy your slice while it is warm, but let the slice for your dog cool before serving.

Fruity Pup-Sicles

Counter those doggone hot days with the thrill of this sweet chill.  This icy treat will keep your dog occupied for a long time – and may even save your shoes from being chewed. Tip: select an easy-to-clean flooring area like the kitchen or back patio for easy cleanup.

Ingredients
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a container with a spout.
  2. Pour the blend into empty ice cube trays.
  3. Store in the freezer until you want to serve up a treat.

Bone appétit!

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.