Making homemade treats for your furry friend is a great way to keep him happy and ensure what goes into his body is wholesome and healthy. A slightly sweet treat will be a welcome change to his usual meaty, savory options. This recipe uses oatmeal and unsweetened applesauce to add a hint of sweetness without any added sugar.
The wet ingredients in a homemade dog treat serve several functions. In this recipe, the wet ingredients work to sweeten, bind and add moisture to the dough.
Unsweetened applesauce serves to moisturize and sweeten the treats. The natural sweetness from the apples makes the treat taste sweet, while the high water content of the applesauce adds moisture. Only use unsweetened applesauce, which is simply cooked, crushed apples. Sweetened applesauces contain extra sugars or high fructose corn syrup, which are not healthy for dogs.
Eggs add healthy fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to the treats. The eggs also bind together the ingredients so that they stick together properly when baking.
Olive oil keeps the treats moist and also adds healthy unsaturated fats to the treats.
The dry ingredients in a dog treat recipe add bulk and flavor to the treats in the same way that they do for cookies.
Plain rolled oats or dry, plain, unsweetened oatmeal and whole wheat flour add healthy fiber to the recipe, while cinnamon adds a tasty flavor that combines well with the applesauce for an apple-cinnamon flavor combination that dogs find irresistible.
Turn your oven to 325 degrees. Prepare the dog treats by combining 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, one egg and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until well incorporated and smooth.
Next, add in 1/2 cup rolled oats or dry, plain oatmeal, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix the dough together using your spoon or spatula until the dough is thick. If the dough is too thick, add in a teaspoon or two of water until it is easy to work with.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and cut into shapes using a cookie cutter that is the appropriate size for your dog. Place the cut treats onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Alternately, roll the dough into small balls and then flatten them with your finger or thumb to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and bake them like cookies.
Bake the treats on the middle rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges begin to brown slightly. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
Serving and Storage
Serve the cooled treats sparingly to your dog as a reward for good behavior. To store the finished treats, keep them in an airtight bag or lidded container at room temperature for about a week. To extend the shelf life, freeze unused treats in a freezer bag. Allow the treats to thaw for about an hour before serving them to your dog.
Leeann Teagno has been writing professionally since 2006. An English major, she continues to study information systems management at American Public University. Teagno is an organic gardener, cook and technology buff with past employment in mobile communications. She also volunteers at an animal shelter and operates a home bakery.