By Dr. Becker
Many dogs and cats love a good burger just as much as their owners… but you don't have to share yours. Instead, make your pet a treat of his own – mini burger sliders made from grass-fed beef.
They're extremely simple to make, but don't let that fool you. Your pet will beg for these bite-sized treats morning, noon, and night! Best of all, they take almost no time to prepare and bake in just 10 minutes.
Grass-Fed Beef Mini Burgers
- Grass-fed lean (93 percent) ground beef
- Roll meat into ½-inch balls
- Press flat and place on baking tray
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes
- Let cool and store in your refrigerator for up to a week or in your freezer for a month
Burgers for Dogs and Cats? Yes, They're Healthy!
While I wouldn't advise feeding your pets a burger from a fast-food restaurant (too many additives and preservatives, and too much sodium), a homemade beef burger is just what the doctor ordered for a healthy pet treat.
Grass-fed ground beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein and healthy fats. I stress grass-fed beef because it tends to be higher in healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than grain-fed beef.
A joint effort between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Clemson University researchers determined a total of 10 key areas where grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef was determined to be:1
Lower in total fat Higher in beta-carotene Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) Higher in the B vitamins thiamin and riboflavin Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium Higher in total omega-3s A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs. 4.84) Higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a potential cancer fighter Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
It's important to recognize that while the USDA 100 percent Organic label is good, it's not necessarily a guarantee that the meat has been grass-fed and finished. In fact, the organic label is costly for ranchers, and many actually raise their grass-fed cattle in ways that provide superior beef compared to beef bearing the organic label. In my mind, a truly grass-fed, grass-finished product is superior to organic.
Some producers of beef will misuse the term grass-fed because the rules around it are still somewhat undefined. Most all calves are fed grass for a certain amount of time, which allows less scrupulous producers to get away with calling their beef grass-fed.
The key to a truly grass-fed product is actually the finishing. Optimal beef is both grass-fed and grass-finished beef. So look for those terms, or 100 percent grass-fed, on the label.
If you're not sure where to find grass-fed beef, many grocery stores are now stocking it. If yours doesn't, ask the purchasing manager to consider adding it. Some stores will even stock specialty items requested by a single customer.
The least expensive way to obtain authentic grass-fed beef is to find a local rancher you trust and buy it directly from the farm. Alternatively, you can now purchase grass-fed beef from organic ranchers online if you don't have access to a local source.
Your Pets Will Thank You for Providing Real-Food Treats
So many pet treats on the market are loaded with fillers, grains, and artificial flavors designed to trick your pet into thinking he's eating real meat. But there's no substitute for the real thing.
The natural diets of canines and felines contain almost no carbohydrates, and those they do consume are primarily in the form of predigested grasses, fruits, and veggies found in the stomachs of prey animals. Dogs and cats thrive on real meat, which is why these grass-fed beef burgers will not only satisfy your pet's cravings but also help meet his nutritional requirements.
Looking for more homemade pet treat recipes? Check out my free 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 my mom and me, and that I'm sure your pets will love. Over 20 species-appropriate recipes – crunchy morsels, savory treats, and even pet-friendly desserts – are included for cats and dogs.