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How to Make All-Natural Pet Treats (page 1 of 7)

Baking homemade snacks for your dog or cat is a fun way to show you care. Follow these simple recipes for dog biscuits and cat treats so you'll know exactly what your pet is eating.

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A Treat Is Just a Treat

Be sure that you follow some basic guidelines about wellness. First, don't make food treats a substitute for physical activity. "To me, a pet treat is a special event that may or may not have to do with food," says Tony Buffington, DVM, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University. "There are so many fat pets out there; simply interacting with your pet is a wonderful thing."

Tony recommends that treats make up no more than 5 percent of your pet's total daily caloric intake. "If you're going to stop for ice cream afterward, you should eat a little less lunch," he says, "and the same is true for your pet. If you're going to feed him a snack, it should replace some of his regular food."

Because treats should make up only a small fraction of total calories, it isn't important that they be nutritionally complete. Your primary concern should be portion control, staying mindful about ingredient safety.

Know Your Potentially Harmful Ingredients

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals maintains a list of problematic foods that you may want to avoid using in your recipes, especially if you know your pet has food sensitivities.

If you're feeding the very small amounts that are consistent with the 5 percent recommendation, you aren't likely to give your pet enough of a toxin to hurt her. Milk, for example, is often used as a binder in biscuit recipes, but in small amounts that shouldn't cause digestive distress. "The dose makes the poison," Tony says. "There are published toxicity levels for most of the ASPCA-listed ingredients, and often they're higher than what your pet is likely to eat in a small snack offered as an occasional treat."

Still, if you're worried about an ingredient, leave it out. The point of making homemade treats is to have fun, not cause stress!

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