A simple plan for home-baked treats for your dog can be adapted to accommodate health issues such as arthritis, cancer or diabetes.
We are all different, with our own strengths, needs and health issues. And so are our dogs. It’s not unusual for me to receive a couple of requests a week from people who want home-baked treats for dogs with various common health problems, from cancer to heart disease.
If your dog has a health condition, you know you have to be careful with the treats you feed him. But he still deserves treats from time to time. The treats in this article are easy to make – just refer to the chart at the end of the article to find your dog’s condition, select from the ingredients specified, then follow the instructions for mixing and baking these healthy treats.
1 Choose four cups of whole flour. You can use one flour or a combination.
2 Choose 1½ cups of filling. Have fun with it. Depending on the flour/s used, additional liquid may be needed.
3 Choose 2 teaspoons of healing spices.
4 Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. This recipe can also be mixed by hand.
5 Preheat your oven to 325°F. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, for easy cleanup.
6 Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well.
7 Roll out and cut the dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters or cut it into squares. You can also take small pieces of dough, roll them out to the thickness of a crayon, and use a sharp knife to cut pieces appropriate to the size of your dog.
8 Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 175°F and bake for 40 more minutes. Turn the oven off and allow biscuits to cool completely before removing.
9 Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
A) WHOLE FLOURS
Oats: A strength-giving cereal, oats are low in starch and high in mineral content, especially potassium and phosphorus. They also contain calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. Oats offer 20 unique polyphenols called avenanthramides, which have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-itching properties. Oats support the gastrointestinal system by helping remove toxins from the body.
Brown rice: It’s a good source of potassium, protein, iron, thiamine and niacin. Recent research conducted by the Medical College of Georgia reports that whole brown rice helps reduce nerve and blood vessel damage from diabetes.
Chia: The word means “strength” and chia seeds are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. The ancient Aztecs used chia seeds for the relief of joint pain and skin conditions. Chia seeds are gluten-free and a rich source of B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein and zinc. They are packed with antioxidants and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based form of Omega-3.
Quinoa: Long recognized as the “mother grain,” quinoa is an amino acid-packed protein seed; it is considered a complete protein, because it contains all nine essential amino acids, including lysine, which is essential to tissue growth and repair. Quinoa is gluten free, low in sugar and starch, and high in fiber and unsaturated fats. It contains vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin E.
Coconut: It contains medium-chain saturated fats, which are transformed into energy and contain special properties that act as anti-inflammatory agents to decrease bacterial growth, irritation and inflammation of the body.
Chickpea: The flour is gluten free and a good source of potassium, phosphorus, iron, foliate, copper and magnesium. It also contains unsaturated fatty acids and is high in fiber and protein. Its high protein content does not turn into glucose in the bloodstream, so it’s a great choice for dogs who need to lose weight, are diabetic or have been diagnosed with cancer.
Sweet potato: They’re very rich in antioxidants, and are also referred to as an anti-diabetic food because they help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance. Sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties and are soothing to the digestive tract. They contain vitamin A in the form of betacarotene, vitamins C, B6 and E, copper, dietary fiber, iron, manganese and potassium.
Pumpkin: Often called “medicine in a can”, pumpkin is another very healthy food. It helps strengthen the blood and soothe a sick stomach. It is very rich in fiber and contains many disease-fighting nutrients, including one of the most valuable sources of bioavailable carotenoids, as well as vitamins A, C, E and K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Pumpkin is great for both diarrhea and constipation.
Applesauce: Apples are another of the world’s healthiest foods. Pectin, the fiber found in apple skins, is fermented in the intestines, producing short-chain fatty acids that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and support the cells of the intestinal lining, making apples an excellent cancer-fighting whole food, as well as a “support system” for the gastrointestinal tract. Red delicious, northern spy and Ida red apples contain more potent disease fi ghting antioxidants than other types of red apple.
Blueberries and cranberries: These contain significant levels of resveratrol, a natural compound found to have anti-cancer properties and reported to reduce the risk of heart disease. The berries are packed with antioxidants that come from anthocyanins. They help prevent urinary tract infections because they contain condensed tannins, the compounds responsible for keeping bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall.
Broccoli: This phytonutrient-dense member of the cruciferous family is one of the most important cancer-fighting vegetables. It contains at least three cancer-protective biochemicals, including sulforaphane, which supports the immune system. Broccoli contains lots of vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as vitamins A and D. It is also a low glycemic vegetable, which means it does not cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. Cooking cruciferous vegetables releases indole, a cancer-fighting enzyme.
Carrots: This nutrient-dense root vegetable is related to fennel, parsnips, cumin and dill. Carrots contain pro-vitamin A, vitamins B, C, D, E and K, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, magnesium, manganese, sulphur, copper and iodine. Carrots support the immune system and aid digestion, and are recognized as a glandular tonic, skin cleanser and eye conditioner.
Green beans: Referred to as “cardio protective”, they are an excellent source of vitamin A because of their concentration of carotenoids, including betacarotene. These treats contain vitamins C and K, calcium, copper, fiber, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, thiamin and Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Shiitake mushrooms: They are a rich source of protein and contain vitamins A, B6 and C, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc and dietary fiber. Shiitake mushrooms contain more than 50 enzymes, including pepsin, which aids in digestion. They provide interferon, a protein that appears to induce immune response against cancer and viral diseases. Their eritadenine helps decrease fat and cholesterol in the blood, and their germanium supports cellular oxygenation and the immune response. They offer beta-glucan, a form of natural sugar with powerful immune-boosting and anti-cancer properties.
C) HEALING SPICES
Cinnamon: Ancient Chinese herbal references cite cinnamon’s use as early as 2700 BC, when it was recommended for the treatment of nausea, fever and diarrhea. Native American Indians used it for diarrhea and chills, and even to freshen breath. In China, cinnamon is recognized as an energizing herb, for kidney problems and even lung conditions. It is a carminative and is used as a digestive tonic when prepared as a tea.
Carob: The pods were used as far back as ancient Egypt, where they were combined with porridge, honey and wax as a remedy for expelling worms. Carob is great for calming an upset tummy and helping cure diarrhea. These treats contain all the principal vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Dill: One teaspoon of dill seeds contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium (trace amount), zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, amino acids and dietary fiber. Dill also contains carvone, anethofuran and limonene, shown to increase the production of cancer-fighting enzymes known to react with certain types of carcinogenic chemicals and eliminate them from the body. Dill’s oil constituents combine to cause an anti-foaming action in the stomach, making it soothing to the digestive tract. It is a antispasmodic and helps reduce flatulence. It tonifies the liver and pancreas and dissolves uric acid accumulations in cases of kidney and bladder stones.
Ginger: It has many healing properties, including its ability to cleanse the colon, reduce spasms and cramps, stimulate circulation and aid metabolism. It has also been used in the treatment of colitis, nausea, gas, indigestion, motion sickness and vomiting. Ginger helps protect the gastric system by supporting digestive enzyme activity. It is recognized as a strong antioxidant and an effective microbial agent for sores and wounds. Oregano: This herb is an excellent source of vitamin K as well as iron, manganese and dietary fiber. It also provides calcium, magnesium, vitamins A and C, and even Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Parsley: It improves digestion and is beneficial to kidney and urinary tract ailments. It contains vitamin C, pro-vitamin A, calcium, chlorophyll, iron and magnesium.
Thyme: This aromatic herb has antioxidant properties, and is well known for being antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial. Thyme acts as a carminative and antispasmodic, easing gastrointestinal problems like colitis and an irritable bowel. It also helps expel parasites, especially hookworms.
Turmeric: This member of the ginger family contains a mix of phenolics called curcumin. The rhizome is used as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s a good choice for liver conditions, inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal problems. Turmeric is an antimicrobial and anti-carcinogen. It is also used for cardiovascular ailments; it lowers cholesterol levels, inhibits platelet aggregation, interferes with intestinal cholesterol uptake, increases conversion of cholesterol into bile acids, and increases excretion of bile acids.
Green tea: The principal flavanol compounds found in green tea are called catechins. The primary compounds include catchin, epicatechin, epicatechin, gallate, epigallocatechin, and eipgallo catechin gallate (EGCG), which is thought to be the primary anti-cancer agent in green tea.