How to Make All-Natural Pet Treats

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!

30+ DIYs for Your Dog

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Beds: Built-In Blanket

For the pup who loves to snuggle under the covers, make this cozy fleece burrow bed with an attached blanket.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Beds: Raised Cot

An elevated cot-style dog bed can either keep your dog off the cold floor inside the house, or off a hot deck or patio when he lounges outdoors. While ready-made beds in this style can be costly, you can make one yourself using PVC for less than $30.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Beds: Double-Duty Dresser

Transform an old dresser into a combination pet bed and bedside table. Your furry friend will love sleeping beside you.

©Brian Patrick Flynn

Beds: Upcycled Drawer

Or, turn an old dresser drawer into a comfy nest using paint, wooden feet and a plush pillow.

Photo By: Susan Teare ©Joanne Palmissano

Beds: Pallet on Wheels

Upcycle a wooden shipping pallet into a stylish bed, complete with casters so it's easy to move. You can even stencil your dog's name along the side for a personal touch.

Beds: Modern End Table

Turn cabinet-grade plywood into a chic, contemporary end table — plus a perch for your pup — with this easy woodworking project.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Beds: No-Sew Cushion

No needle and thread needed for this easy DIY bed. Just fill two pieces of fleece with stuffing and secure the edges with knots.

Beds: Washable Cover

A removable, washable cover is the key to a fresh-smelling pet bed. Get out your sewing machine and make this farmhouse-style slipcover that you can easily clean when needed.

Photo By: Marian Parsons, Mustard Seed Interiors

Doghouses: Easy Plywood Pad

Make a simple shelter for your fur kid with one sheet of plywood and a few other basic materials.

Photo By: Photo by Sam Henderson

Doghouses: Open-Air Hangout

This open doghouse design lets your pup relax in the shade while still enjoying the breeze.

Doghouses: Dog Run With Digs

Transform part of your backyard into an inviting dog run, complete with an upcycled pallet doghouse. If your dog run is fully shaded, you probably won't be able to grow grass there; consider installing artificial turf instead to prevent muddy paws.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Toys: Sturdy Braided Fleece

Tired of buying expensive toys that your dog destroys in less than a day? This budget-friendly toy holds up to the toughest of chewers. Make it from fabric scraps, old T-shirts or worn-out fleece blankets.

©Debbie Wolfe

Toys: PVC Puzzle

Keep Fido busy for hours with this simple DIY puzzle toy. Just drill holes in a 12-inch length of PVC pipe, fill it with your dog's favorite treats or kibble and cap both ends.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Toys: Fun Fabric Log

A plastic water bottle forms the center of this woodsy DIY toy. Your dog will love the satisfying crunch it makes when he chews it.

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Treats: Frosted Biscuits

Topped with cream cheese frosting, these homemade biscuits are a perfect special treat for any pup.

Treats: Muttloaf

This canine-friendly version of the classic comfort food is packed with healthy ingredients, including peas, carrots and hardboiled eggs.

Treats: Frozen Bites

Keep your dog cool this summer with PB&J-inspired frozen treats, made with healthy ingredients like natural peanut butter and berries.

Treats: Pumpkin Ice Cream

We made this healthy doggie "ice cream" with bananas and pumpkin puree, but you can also use cooked sweet potatoes or natural peanut butter, depending on your pup's preferences.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Clothes and Accessories: No-Sew Sweater

Hanging onto an old sweater that you no longer wear? Turn the sleeve into a new outfit for your pooch.

Photo By: Allie Holcomb King

Clothes and Accessories: Monogrammed Leather Tag

This custom leather dog tag is a handsome addition to any dog's collar. Use a leather stamp to monogram it with your pup's initial.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Clothes and Accessories: Festive Collar

Dress up your doggo for the holidays with this DIY holly leaf collar. This easy project requires minimal sewing skills and costs just a few dollars to make.

Clothes and Accessories: Easy Halloween Costume

For Halloween, skip the expensive store-bought costumes and make this adorable fairy getup using glittery cardstock and a favorite jacket.

Photo By: H. Camille Smith

Grooming: Oatmeal Shampoo

Gentle oatmeal shampoos are great for dogs with sensitive skin, but store-bought options can be pricy. Make your own shampoo with this easy recipe.

Grooming: Dry Shampoo

If your dog tends to get a little stinky between baths, keep him smelling fresh with this DIY dry shampoo made from baking soda, cornstarch and essential oils.

©Debbie Wolfe

Grooming: Paw Balm

Just like human hands and feet, dogs' paws can become dry and cracked, particularly during the winter. Soothe your dogs' dry pads with this DIY paw balm.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Safety: Stairs With Storage

If your small or senior dog has trouble jumping onto the bed or sofa, a staircase is a must. These DIY steps even offer extra storage for toys.

Photo By: Derek Trimble

Safety: Adjustable Ramp

A ramp is another great option for dogs who need a little help reaching the bed or sofa. This DIY ramp adjusts to a variety of heights so you can use it anywhere in the house.

Safety: Dutch Door

Divided in half horizontally so the bottom portion can remain shut while the top is open, a Dutch door lets you keep an eye on your dog while he's confined in another room. Learn how to convert a basic interior door into a Dutch door.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Safety: Upcycled Crib Crate

A crate is a great tool for house training a dog or keeping him safely out of the way when you have guests. If you have an old crib lying around that you no longer use, it's surprisingly easy to convert it into a comfy enclosure for your dog.

Safety: Car Hammock

If your dog likes to hop from seat to seat while you drive, keep him safely confined in the back (and keep your car cleaner!) with this DIY car hammock.

Storage: Entryway Organizer

Keep your dog's leashes, treats, toys and other accessories in one convenient spot with this DIY pet storage station. Perfect for an entryway, it lets you easily grab everything you need before heading out on a walk.

Photo By: Flynnside Out Productions

Storage: Feeding Station

This DIY dog bowl station features a storage cabinet for stashing food, treats and other pet supplies. Plus, it'll help keep your floor tidy if you've got a messy eater.

Photo By: Derek Trimble

Storage: Super-Organized Cabinet

Is your pup's stuff is scattered all over the house? Corral it in one place with one large cabinet. Add hooks on the inside of the door for leashes, plus a chalkboard for tracking vet appointments, the dog sitter's number and more.

Photo By: Aaron Wessling Photography

Storage: Silhouette Leash Holder

If you have multiple dogs, this DIY leash holder — customized with cute silhouettes — makes it easy to tell which leash belongs to which pup.

Photo By: Debbie Wolfe

Pet-Approved Recipes to Try for Dogs

Peanut Butter and Bacon Biscuits

Michelle Johnson's website,, is a comprehensive resource for making different types of dog treats, including recipes and tips. "I test out each finished treat on several dogs and if the consensus is that they don't care for it, I adjust the recipe until they do like it," she says.




  • 2 pieces bacon, thick cut, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/8 cup bacon grease
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup water


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cook bacon until crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
3. Pour the bacon grease into a glass measuring cup.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground flax, wheat bran and baking powder.
5. Crumble the bacon, once cooled, and stir into the flour mixture.
6. In a microwave-safe bowl, warm the peanut butter approximately 30 seconds.
7. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg. Then pour in the peanut butter, water and bacon grease. Use a fork to whisk together the wet ingredients until completely combined.
8. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and pour in the peanut butter mixture.
9. Stir until combined.
10. Knead lightly in the bowl with your hands.
11. Lay down one large sheet of parchment paper, roll your dough onto it, then lay another piece of parchment on top. You'll essentially have a dog treat dough sandwich.
12. Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness.
13. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
14. Cut shapes out of the dough and place on your prepared baking sheet. Gather the extra dough, knead into a ball and repeat the process of rolling and cutting until there is no more dough.
15. Bake for 15 minutes.
16. Turn off the oven and leave the treats there to cool for two hours or overnight. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to six months.

Salad Treats With Yogurt Glaze


Johnson recommends these for the weight-conscious pooch.




  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach (lightly packed)
  • 3/4 cup California mix vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt, low fat or fat-free
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Yogurt Glaze:

  • 1/2 tsp. plain yogurt, low fat or fat-free
  • 2 tsp. water


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Finely dice the spinach and California mix vegetables.
3. Put the diced-spinach-and-vegetable mix into a large bowl.
4. If using the garlic, use a garlic press and mix into the vegetables.
5. Stir the yogurt and applesauce into the veggie mixture.
6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
7. Add the flour into the vegetable mixture about 1/3 at a time. Stir after each addition.
8. Knead the dough in the bowl until a firm ball is achieved.
9. Fold out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/2-inch thick.
10. Cut treats into shapes with a cookie cutter.
11. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
12. Place the cut-out treats on the baking sheet.
13. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and water.
14. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the cut-outs with the yogurt and water.
15. Bake for 20 minutes.
16. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Cherry Oatmeal Muffins



  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 cup frozen tart cherries, rinsed and roughly chopped



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray muffin pan with nonstick spray and dust with flour.
3. Stir oats, flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4. In a separate medium bowl, stir buttermilk, egg and applesauce.
5. Pour buttermilk mixture into the oats mixture.
6. Stir just until moist.
7. Stir in cherries (no need to thaw, they can go in frozen).
8. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
9. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool for five minutes in the muffin pan on a wire rack.
11. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Store in the refrigerator (not at room temperature) for up to two weeks or freeze for up to three months.

Pet-Approved Recipes to Try for Cats

Ripley Bites

This recipe was named for the cat of food blogger Amy R. at AmyBites. It's a good template for biscuit treats for cats; feel free to substitute your cat's favorite ingredient (say, tuna or bonito flakes) for the catnip.










  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. organic catnip
  • 1/3 cup dry milk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 large egg


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Add wet ingredients and mix to form dough.
4. Roll out, adding more flour if needed, and cut into squares or small shapes.
5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Store in an airtight container, or freeze and thaw as needed.







Ooh, la, la, Oysters!


  • 1 (3.75-oz.) can oysters
  • 6 baby carrots
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup plain, unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. brewer's yeast


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the oysters, carrots and tomato paste in a food processor or blender; puree until they form a smooth paste.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the pureed mixture and the remaining ingredients, mixing well.
4. Drop by 1/2 teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the bottoms of the treats are golden brown.
6. Flip the treats and bake for another five minutes or until both sides are golden brown.
7. Remove from the oven, let cool thoroughly and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yummy Chicken Liver Balls


  • 1 lb. finely chopped cooked chicken livers
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all the ingredients, making sure the chicken liver is well-coated. The dough should be stiff, but if it's too dry, add a little more chicken broth.
3. Form the dough into pea- to marble-sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.
4. With the tip of a spoon, press a tiny indentation into the top of each ball.
5. With a spoon, carefully drip a few drops of chicken broth in each indentation.
6. Bake the treats for 8 to 10 minutes or until the bottoms of the treats are golden brown.
7. Remove from the oven, let cool thoroughly and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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