By Dr. Becker
High-quality, species-appropriate protein should be a key part of the treats you choose for your pet. But in many store-bought treats, you'll find this lacking. A treat may claim to be high in protein, but that doesn't mean it's made from lean, human-grade, and high-quality meat...
For instance, feet, hides, tails, and snouts are 100 percent protein, but they won't be of any value to your pet because all 100 percent is indigestible. Soy is also high in protein, but this is not a species-appropriate food for dogs and cats.
Aside from low-quality protein, many commercial pet treats are high in carbohydrates, specifically grains. Your carnivorous dog or kitty should not be fed an abundance of carbohydrates like grain, corn, wheat, or rice.
Fortunately, it's simple to create protein-rich, species-appropriate (and grain-free!) treats at home. As an added bonus, if you have both a dog and a cat, this is one treat they'll both crave.
Pork Pull Apart Treats
- One cup lean ground pork
- 1 organic, pastured egg
- 2T ground seeds (I used a flax/chia blend )
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Mix all ingredients together
- Press into greased pie plate
- Bake at 30 minutes, or until brown
- Remove from oven, loosen edges, and flip onto drying rack until cool
- Tear into bite-size pieces
- Store in an airtight container in the freezer up to three months
Just Three Health-Boosting Ingredients...
1. Pastured Pork: A Novel Protein
Feeding your pet the same diet over a period of years, feeding biologically inappropriate ingredients found in most commercial pet foods (including additives and preservatives), and feeding your pet poor-quality ingredients can lead to the development of food allergies and intolerances.
These are quite common these days and can pose a challenge when looking for foods to feed your dog or cat. Pets with food allergies should be placed on novel-protein diets, also called elimination diets, to allow their immune systems to stop overreacting to allergens and give their GI tracts time to detoxify, heal, and function normally again.
The novel protein should be just as its name implies… one your pet hasn't tried before. Examples of novel proteins include ostrich, quail, rabbit, bison, duck, or even alligator and kangaroo. Pork, however, can also be used as a novel protein, so even pets with allergies can enjoy these pork pull apart treats (assuming they're not allergic to pork, of course!).
The pork in these treats is a high-quality, species-appropriate form of protein even for pets without allergies. Ideally, seek out pastured, humanely raised pork, which will typically be higher in beneficial omega-3 fats.
2. Organic Free-Range Eggs
Eggs are a phenomenal source of protein, fat, and other nutrients, including choline and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Free-range or "pastured" organic eggs are far superior when it comes to nutrient content, while conventionally raised eggs are far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella.
Testing has confirmed that true free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs. The dramatically superior nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free-ranging, pastured hens and those from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
In one egg-testing project, Mother Earth Newscompared the official US Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture and found that the latter typically contain:1
- 2/3 times more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fats
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta-carotene
3. Ground Seeds
Adding ground seeds to the pet treats adds yet another layer of nutrition. Chia seeds, for instance, are high in protein and contain an impressive amount of plant-based omega-3 fats, or alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
They're also rich in valuable amino acids, antioxidants, fiber, and flavonoids, along with nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and niacin. Flaxseed has a similar nutritional profile, with beneficial protein, lignans, fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants.
They're Moist and Chewy!
Aside from their outstanding nutrition, pets love pork pull aparts because they're a soft treat – moist and chewy. If your pet has dental disease or a tender mouth, these treats are perfect. Some pets also prefer chewy treats over crunchy varieties; if your pet is among them, he'll love these treats.
Keep in mind that in order for commercial treats to be formed into tiny dog bone or fish shapes, it typically requires the use of undesirable ingredients like grains and other starches, not to mention they also tend to contain fillers, preservatives, sugar, and other additives.
Your dog or cat won't care that your homemade treats aren't in the shape of a bone or a fish… but he'll appreciate the flavor, meatiness, and real satisfying nutrition they offer in its place.
Looking for more homemade pet treat recipes? Check out my e-cookbook, Homemade Treats for Healthy Pets: Nutritious Recipes for Your Cats and Dogs. This e-book is filled with homemade dog and cat food ideas, which are personally formulated by me and my mom, that I'm sure your pets will love. Over 20 species-appropriate recipes – crunchy morsels, savory treats, and even pet-friendly desserts – are included.