Here’s a fun article on how to create your own nutritious and healthy DIY dog treats from Greg, one of the pet loving team members at Vets To Go!
Something we love to do at home is make fresh juice, using our amazing juicer – it’s great at extracting fresh, delicious juice from apples, oranges, carrots, kale, spinach, cucumbers, beets and a whole range of fruits and veggies.
(and when I see “we”, what I really mean is my wife Raylene, who does all of the work you see in these photos!)
However, it always ends with the same problem – what to do with the big container of pulp that is left over after the juicing is done?
One day after juicing, it occurred that maybe our puppies might like to have some of that pulp. After all, it’s highly nutritious and contains a lot of fibre with no processed ingredients or preservatives. One of our dogs would eat it as is – he’ll eat almost anything. However, the other one is a picky eater and didn’t seem interested in eating just raw pulp.
We decided to do some testing and experimentation, and came up with what has been a winner for virtually every dog that has tasted these treats. By incorporating a couple of healthy additions to the pulp, we end up with more balanced treats that dogs love.
This recipe produces a treat that is grain free, dairy free, corn free, and even vegan! It’s great for pets that have allergies, or don’t do well with the commercially produced and processed treats in the market.
By adding a couple of extra nutritious ingredients and dehydrating the treats, they become stable and easy to store.
Yes, it takes some work, but it’s a lot of fun knowing you’re giving your pets something that’s delicious and nutritious. And since you’re using left over pulp that likely would be thrown out otherwise, the cost of these treats ends up a fraction of buying something at the pet store!
Equipment You’ll Need To Make DIY Dog Treats:
> A juicer that leaves over fruit and vegetable pulp (We use a Breville, which is a high quality juicer that minimizes the juice (and moisture) in the pulp. You may need to dehydrate your pulp longer if you use a juicer that is less efficient at reducing the juice/moisture)
> A dehydrator (we bought ours, which is a brand called Salton, for about $40 at Walmart – any basic dehydrator will work)
> 8 cups of fresh pulp left over after juicing fruit and vegetables (if possible, choose organic fruits and veggies whenever you can – not only more healthy for your juice, but better for your hounds. Also, you may need to cut up any left over chunks that get through your juicer)
> 1 cup of coconut flour (not only does it add taste and smell that most dogs love, it allows the treats to stick together – otherwise the pulp falls apart). We use Bob’s Red Mill, but any coconut flour will work (we suggest using organic if possible)
> 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted shelled sunflower seeds (adds some healthy fats to the treats)
IMPORTANT: Most fruits and veggies that you would typically juice are fine for pets to eat, but be sure that anything you’re using does not pose any risk or danger to your pet. In particular, apple seeds are toxic to pets and you should remove apple cores before juicing them. In particular, DO NOT use uncored apples, grapes, or garlic. Be sure you do your research on any fruits and veggies you are planning to include in the pulp to ensure there are no issues. Our most common ingredients are carrots, cored apples (no seeds), cucumber, kale, spinach, and ginger.
How To Prepare The Treats
(you can click on each photo to see a larger version if you need)
1. Mix the pulp, the coconut flour and the sunflower seeds in a large bowl. This recipe is scalable depending on how much juice pulp you have. If you do not have 8 cups of pulp or have more than that, just adjust the proportions as necessary (ie: if you only have 4 cups of pulp, using 1/2 cup of coconut flour and 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds) After mixing thoroughly, the “dough” should stick together fairly well and become a big ball to work with. (Added hint: we freeze the pulp after each juicing and then use it all up for treats when we have enough saved).
3. Cut the dough into pieces approximately 3/4″ square. The treats will shrink substantially (usually about 50%), so adjust the size to the size of your dog – for example, if you have a 100 pound+ dog, you might want to make them 1 inch square or more so they end up larger once dehydrated.
5. Check your treats periodically and keep it going until the treats are dry and are not moist. Again, the length of time you leave them in your dehydrator will depend on the quality of your juicer, and its ability to remove most of the juice/moisture from the pulp. You’re better to leave them in a little long, than to pull them out too early and have them moist (leading to the possibility of your treats turning moldy in a container). Bottom line – you want them nice and dry so they are crispy, and they store well.
6. I probably should have mentioned this before — prepare to deal with a lot of guilty and sad glances from your puppy as they smell the delicious treats being magically created, and pressure you to give them early tastings. Be strong – it will be worth the discipline to make them wait until they’re done. Here is Bear Bear putting forth his best “but I’m sooo hungry” look as he waits for the payoff.
Bask in the glory and adoration of puppies who appreciate not only how great your treats taste, but how nutritious and healthy they are for them.
All of our hounds in the Vets To Go office pack love these treats exactly as they’re made here. We’ve experimented with adding a bit of coconut oil, with baking the treats to brown them a bit after dehydrating, etc.. but we’ve come back to this basic recipe, as it seems to be the one that almost every dog really enjoys.
Keep in mind that these treats have no preservatives or fillers, which also means that they will not remain fresh for months at a time. So don’t store them and let them sit around for a long time – share the wealth with other pet lovers and make more when you need them.
There are hundreds of great dog treat recipes on the web, so we encourage you to do some Google searching and find some. Making your own DIY dog treats is also a great way to sneak meds into your pup’s diet.
Just be sure that any ingredients you use are safe for your dog!
And thanks to the fur Momma of our house, Raylene, for putting so much work into making healthy treats for our hounds.