As a provider of homemade dog food recipes and supplements, I am always on the lookout for homemade recipes for homemade dog treats. Finding recipes for healthy homemade treats was harder than I thought.
Although well intentioned, creators of treat recipes generally don't consider that their tasty offerings will promote obesity in dogs. Treat recipe authors seem unaware of the calorie counts of their delicious recipes or fail to offer information that allows the calculation of the number of calories per treat. Homemade treat recipes are as guilty as commercial treats in offering far too many calories for a healthy canine lifestyle.
Lack of Dog Treat Numbers per Recipe
I researched 24 homemade recipes from online sources. They all had their own creative ingredient recipes that offered quality ingredients. I ran the recipes through my computer program to determine the calorie count of each recipe. Only 8 recipes offered the number of treats per recipe. Without that information I could not determine the number of calories per treat.
So for 16 recipes, I had no idea what the number of calories per treat was being fed to dogs. Treat calories should exceed no more than 5% of total daily calorie requirements. For small dogs this may mean significantly cutting back their regular diet to account for the extra calories. This could lead to inadequate vitamin and mineral intake. If you don’t know how many calories a treat provides, you need to avoid it. Unfortunately, even if they tell you the number of treats per recipe it may still be confusing.
Calories per Recipe Difficult or Impossible to Determine
For those authors that tell you how many treats their recipe makes, you need to know how to determine the total calories of the recipe. How many of you have nutritional computer programs to do this necessary calculation? I do. The news is not good. Only 8 of the 24 recipes I researched provided treat numbers so I could calculate the number of calories per treat. The results were: 20, 36, 42, 70, 76, 83, 95 and 136 per treat. These are all unacceptable numbers of calories of treats and are as fattening as commercial treats.
A 20 calorie/treat is 8% of the total daily requirements for an 8lb. dog. A treat of 136 calories is 14% of the total daily requirement for a 51lb. dog. Homemade treats sound more nutritious and healthy than commercial treats but they provide calorie amounts that are unhealthy for you dog.
What to Do for Dog Treats?
Offer your dog raw veggies, fresh fruit, canned green beans and air popped popcorn until I can find a source of appropriate calorie treat recipes to offer you and your dogs.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN