Cooking for our pets is a great way to ensure they are eating wholesome, nutritional foods. It’s also a fun way to customize a pet treat recipe to meet specific dietary needs. These three festive holiday treats will have a dog woofing for more and a cat purring for seconds. Choose organic, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
Pumpkins and apples are always at the top of the culinary list for holiday treats. Not only are these two foods safe for pets, they offer health benefits. Both are packed with fiber, which helps dogs feel fuller. It’s also good for digestive and colon health and can yield firmer stool. For the kitty friends, that fiber also helps move hairballs along. In addition, apples contain phytonutrients and flavonoids like quercetin, which are helpful in treating allergies.
The chia seeds in this pet pie not only help firm up the pie, but are packed with nutrients that naturally boost energy. Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and are a great source of antioxidants. They also contain minerals, fiber, calcium, protein and vitamins A, B, D and E.
Cinnamon and ginger are wonderful spices to use in pet holiday treats. Both of these warming spices improve digestion and soothe the stomach lining. Select Ceylon cinnamon, not cassia cinnamon, because the latter contains higher amounts of coumarin, which can harm the liver and increase the risk of cancer. Ginger may act as a blood thinner, so don’t use it if a dog is going to have surgery or is pregnant. It may also lower blood pressure and blood sugar, so if a dog has heart issues or diabetes, talk to a vet. When in doubt, leave it out.
Pumpkin Apple Pie
Yield: depends on size of molds
1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin
1 cup goat’s milk
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
Remove and discard the apple core and seeds. Place all ingredients in a mixer and blend. Then set it aside for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to begin to expand.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into preferred baking dishes, either for a large pie or small, bite-sized muffins.
Bake approximately 15 minutes for small muffins or 40-60 minutes for a full-sized pie. Allow the pie to fully cool and set up before slicing and serving. Serve as a special treat to pets. Portion the remaining pie into serving sizes and freeze for later.
Eggnog for Pets
Raw eggs can be a healthy addition to any fresh pet diet, assuming the animal doesn’t have an egg allergy. Cow’s milk isn’t the healthiest option for dogs and cats because they don’t tolerate its high level of alpha-s1-casein protein. Goat’s milk is a healthier option because it contains extremely low to no amounts of this protein, allowing better absorption of the nutrients.
2 cups goat’s milk
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
Blend all the ingredients. Either place a few tablespoons in the pet’s dish as a special treat or drizzle over the food.
Alternatively, place a silicone ice cube mold on a cookie sheet for support. The smaller the cavities, the better. Take the remaining eggnog, pour into the molds and place in the freezer. Once frozen, pop out the treats and store them in a glass container in the freezer. Try serving one frozen treat to each pet every few days.
Making treats for cats can be tricky. The best bet is to head to the meat department. Even the most finicky of kitties will gobble up this healthy treat.
1 lb ground turkey
½ Tbsp dried peppermint
Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-blended. Form into tablespoon balls using your hand or scooper and place on a lined or ceramic cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes until meatballs are set (they will be extra eggy). Carefully remove and place on a cooling rack. Serve as a special treat. Place treats in a glass container and refrigerate for up to three days or freeze until ready to serve. Thaw completely before serving.
Tonya Wilhelm is a professional dog trainer, spreading the word about positive methods of preventing and managing behavioral issues with a holistic approach.
Beware of These Troublemakers
Caffeinated products. Gary Richter
, a holistic veterinarian in Oakland, California, and author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide
, suggests keeping caffeinated drinks and food away from pets. Caffeine contains stimulants called methylxanthines, and pets are much more sensitive to the effects of these substances than humans are. Ingesting even a small amount can make dogs vulnerable to caffeine poisoning, which can cause hyperactivity, panting, elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures and collapse. Seek immediate veterinary care for treatment if these symptoms develop in a dog.
Artificial sweeteners. San Diego veterinarian Madison Rose says artificial sweeteners such as xylitol can cause a massive insulin release, leading to acute and profound hypoglycemia, or low-blood sugar, and hypokalemia, or low potassium levels. Marked by lethargy, ataxia, collapse, twitching or seizures, ingestion requires immediate veterinary care.
Raw, yeasty bread dough. This will expand when ingested, potentially causing a deadly twisting of the stomach.
Raisins and grapes. Common in holiday recipes, in large quantities, these can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Nutmeg. A toxin for pets.
Cooked bones. Not only are these choking hazards, they can pose a serious threat to the digestive tract.