My dog Buffy, a nearly 15-year-old golden retriever/cocker spaniel/beagle mix, tore his ACL a few weeks ago. That means no more long walks for us.
It also means that because Buffy isn't getting the same amount of exercise he once was, I need to cut back on certain snacks and replace them with natural pet treats.
These healthier options for Buffy have fewer calories and, frankly, they are probably better for dogs than commercial pet cookies and rawhide. At the start of 2013, two brands of dog treats were recalled for having harmful ingredients in them.
Want to know how to make free dog food treats and snacks for your pup—without even cracking open a cookbook or turning on the oven?
Here are 5 natural pet treats options that may already be in your refrigerator.
- Carrots. We have a game in our house called chase the carrot. That is, I would cut up a carrot into quarter-sized pieces, and toss them across the room for Buffy to chase and gobble up. Clearly we're not using the "chase" part of that game anymore, but we are still continuing to give Buffy carrots as his daily treat. I remember our vet telling us that carrots were great for a dog's teeth.
- Apples. Like carrots apples are crunchy and delicious to dogs. I find, though, that Buffy sometimes has trouble with apple skins. So if I'm slicing apples for my own snack—with peanut butter; yum!—I'll slice off the skin before giving Buffy a treat to share.
- Kale. Not only have I never cooked kale or purchased it at the supermarket to use in a recipe, I'd never considered kale as a natural pet treat option. But some people claim that their dogs love the crunchy texture of kale. I guess that's possible, considering Buffy likes munching on crisp lettuce.
- Cucumbers. There have been times when I have peeled a cucumber and given it whole to Buffy as a treat. He gnaws down on that cucumber like he does his Nyla bones—laying down on the floor and holding the cucumber between his front paws for stability while he chews.
- Oranges. We witness an interesting phenomenon when we offer Buffy oranges as a treat. If the peel is still on the orange, he won't come anywhere near it. It's like the orange and Buffy are two magnets repelling each other. However, once we take off the peel and cut the orange slices into wedges, Buffy gobbles them up. I guess there is just something about the orange peel that is so off-putting to a dog.
Here is a complete list of human food you can feed dogs, courtesy of the ASPCA.
With all this talk about healthy and natural dog treats, I feel it's important to remind you that there are certain fruits and vegetables that you should never give to a dog. These include:
- dried fruits like raisins