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  • Most popular commercial pet treats are loaded with grains and starches, sugar, preservatives and other ingredients that don’t promote the health of dogs and cats.
  • Rather than offer empty, biologically inappropriate calories to their dog or cat, many pet parents are looking for alternative, healthier treats.
  • To answer that need, we’ve found several easy-to-make, nutritious, species-appropriate pet treat recipes we think your dog or cat will love.
  • We’re also including a great tip on how to turn pet food into pet treats, and some ideas for healthy pet treats that are already in your fridge or pantry.
  • And remember… treats should be fed only occasionally and in very small amounts. Otherwise, the calories from treats add up fast and before you know it, your pet is overweight or obese.

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Nutritious, Delicious Pet Treats You Can Make in a Flash

February 10, 2012 | 51,589 views
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By Dr. Becker

Pets love treats! And pet parents love being able to offer them to four-legged family members.

Unfortunately, the majority of commercial pet treats, while yummy tasting to dogs and cats, are neither species-appropriate nor do they contain high quality ingredients.

In fact, most species-appropriate pet treats won't remotely resemble the cute and colorful dog biscuits and cookies you may be used to seeing on store shelves.

Forming treats into tiny dog bone or fish shapes requires the use of undesirable ingredients like grains and other starches, not to mention fillers, preservatives, sugar, and other additives.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to offer delicious, delectable treats to your pet that also provide your dog or cat with species-appropriate nutrition?

I certainly think it would be, so I asked my team to keep their eyes open for some excellent alternatives to the usual pet treat fare.

I'm sharing a few of the results of our research with my readers here at Mercola Healthy Pets.

I hope these recipes, tips and ideas will inspire you to make those treat calories count by offering nutritious, biologically appropriate snacks to your furry loved ones.

Super Easy Nutritious Pet Treat Recipes

Crunchy Beef Cubes

What you'll need:

  • 1 pound lean beef
  • Baking sheet covered with baking parchment

To prepare:

  • Dice beef into half-inch cubes
  • Place cubes close together on baking sheet
  • Put baking sheet into cold oven and heat oven to 300oF
  • Cook for 1 hour
  • Reduce oven temperature to 200oF and prop open oven door (to allow moisture to escape)
  • Continue cooking for 2 additional hours
  • Remove beef cubes from oven and allow to dry overnight at room temperature
  • Place beef cubes in airtight container and keep refrigerated or frozen until ready to serve

Chewy Liver Strips

What you'll need:

  • Beef livers (butcher shops sometimes throw these away or you can buy them at the supermarket)
  • Food dehydrator*

To prepare:

  • Cut liver into 1-inch slices
  • Apply a non-stick spray on the dehydrator drying racks
  • Place the liver slices into the dehydrator for 24 hours
  • Seal in airtight container and refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve

*An alternative to using a food dehydrator is to put the liver strips on a greased or non-stick baking sheet and bake them in a 325oF oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

Livertaters

What you'll need:

  • 1 pound liver
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ¼ cups potato flakes
  • Beef or chicken broth
  • Food processor
  • Greased 13 x 9 pan

To prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 400oF
  • Cut liver into approximately 1-inch pieces (to help with the blending and cooking process)
  • Place the liver pieces, egg, garlic powder and potato flakes in food processor
  • Pulse ingredients to combine
  • Add as much broth as needed to make the mixture spreadable (the consistency will be very thick)
  • Spread mixture into pan
  • Bake for 25 minutes; cool on wire rack for 5 minutes
  • Loosen sides with a knife, turn pan over and empty mixture onto wire rack
  • Cool completely before slicing
  • Place slices in airtight container and refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve

Turkeyballs

What you'll need:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped veggies (optional)

To prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 350oF
  • Mix all ingredients in bowl
  • Shape mixture into bite-size balls
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until brown
  • Cool and serve or seal in airtight container and store in fridge or freezer until ready to serve

Turkey Mash

What you'll need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons mashed potatoes
  • ½ cup diced cooked turkey meat
  • ½ cup chopped cooked veggies
  • ¼ cup grated cheese

To prepare:

  • Warm a small amount of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet
  • Blend the egg and potatoes in a bowl and then spread in the skillet
  • Lay the turkey and veggies on top in even layers
  • Cover and simmer until the egg is cooked and the mixture is warm
  • Sprinkle cheese on top of mixture and cook a few more minutes until cheese is melted and egg is golden brown
  • Cool thoroughly, cut into wedges, seal in airtight container and put in fridge or freezer until ready to serve

How to Quickly Turn a Can of Pet Food into Nutritious Treats

If you buy commercial (hopefully human grade) canned food for your dog or cat, you can 'repurpose' a can for use as a supply of healthy treats.

Open a can of your pet's favorite brand, preferably something with a strong aroma, and spoon out little treat sized amounts onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Put the baking sheet into the freezer until the bite sized bits of food are frozen. Then move them to an airtight container and back into the freezer they go until you're ready to treat your pet to a treat! (Most dogs will enjoy the treats frozen, but you'll need to thaw them to a chewy consistency for kitties.)

Additional Ideas for Quick-and-Easy Pet Treats

Don't count out people food when it comes to offering healthy treats to your pet.

Fed in moderation (meaning fed only occasionally, and in very small amounts – no more than a 1/8 inch square for a cat or small dog and no more than a ¼ inch square for a bigger dog), any of the following items from your kitchen can provide a nutritious snack for your dog or cat:

  • Fruit
  • Cheese
  • Raw almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts
  • Blueberries
  • Frozen peas

No matter what treats you feed, they should be counted as part of your dog's or cat's daily caloric intake. It's easy to imagine, as you're handing a tiny morsel of this or that to your pet, that those extra calories are inconsequential in such small amounts.

Most pet owners would be surprised at just how many extra calories a treat here and there can add to a pet's daily energy intake.

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico