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HomeFunFun Stuff To DoWho wants a treat? Your fur babies deserve healthy treats, too!

Who wants a treat? Your fur babies deserve healthy treats, too!

ThinkstockPhotos 506430962Baking is a passion for Stephanie Bristol of Severna Park. Since she was a little girl, Bristol loved baking and concocting new recipes. About three years ago, however, Bristol decided to mesh her love for baking with her love for animals, she has an 11-year-old Plott hound named Rocky. She began making homemade dog treats that looked as delicious and decadent as the goodies she baked for humans.

“My intention was to open a human bakery. It didn’t work out because it was too costly,” said Bristol, who also enjoys baking with her 10-year-old daughter, Elliet. “Always liking to bake and loving animals, I decided to turn it into a dog bakery.”

 

“My intention was to open a human bakery. It didn’t work out because it was too costly,” said Bristol, who also enjoys baking with her 10-year-old daughter, Elliet. “Always liking to bake and loving animals, I decided to turn it into a dog bakery.”
Before baking professionally, Bristol researched all the foods dogs can’t have, and used her baking knowledge to create treats that were healthy, tasted good to dogs and looked delicious. She opened her bakery about 2 ½ years ago, but recently decided to close the brick and mortar shop, and sell online and locally.

She and Elliet taste all the dog treats, and though the goodies won’t harm humans, most people don’t enjoy the sugar-free treats. Bristol doesn’t use sugar, grain, salt or meat. Instead, she uses grain-free flour, and natural flavoring like peanut butter and pumpkin to sweeten the dog treats. “A lot of times it looks like a regular cupcake,” Bristol said. “You’re looking at it and thinking ‘It’s a delicious cupcake.’ Consumption is not going to kill you, but it’s so not sweet. It’s just kind of bready and eggy.”

Over the past couple years, Bristol’s dog treats have become more popular—as pet owners want to give their dogs homemade treats but also shop local.

“There’s a market for homemade natural dog treats,” Bristol said. “Their dogs are their kids for the most part. It makes the dogs happy getting treats and it makes the people happy too, that you’re treating your dog. It’s just fun. It’s as much for the people as it is for the dog.”

ThinkstockPhotos 821741786Heather Noll, practice manager at Banfield Pet Hospital in Annapolis agrees. In recent years, Noll has noticed pet owners taking more interest and concern in what their pets are consuming. Not only do pet owners want natural, healthy food for their pets, but they sometimes make the treats or food themselves. “As a culture it is becoming more popular for people to do more of their own preparations of their pet’s food as it makes everyone feel more in control with what they are putting in their pet’s bodies, and being able to ensure they are taking in things that are essential to their pet’s health,” Noll says, explaining that giving treats can be a form of bonding for owners and their dogs. And making your own treats can be a rewarding experience. “Some people look at their dogs as an essential part of their family so making sure they are receiving treats and food with the best form of nutrients is very important to them.” 

TIPS/ADVICE FOR MAKING DOG TREATS
(Thanks to Bristol and Noll)

1. Familiarize yourself with ingredients to avoid
Most people know that chocolate can be deadly for dogs; however, there are many other ingredients that should be off-limits. “A lot of dogs have allergies to chicken and grain,” Bristol says. Raisins, avocados and grapes are also toxic to dogs. Also stay away from onion, garlic, chives, raw meat, raw eggs and bones.
Noll recommends checking the following website for foods that dogs should not consume: aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.

2. Use natural sweeteners
Too much sugar can be harmful to dogs, so stick to natural sweeteners like peanut butter, pumpkin, applesauce, cinnamon, honey, blueberries and strawberries. For the icing on her Pupcakes, [see recipe, right] Bristol uses a mixture of cream cheese and plain yogurt. Bristol usually uses coconut oil or salmon oil in cheesy dog biscuits. Carob is a good ingredient to use when making doggy brownies. It is not sweet, but it makes the brownies look realistic.

3. Sometimes trial and error is best
Baking for dogs is much like baking for humans, Bristol says; however, some recipes need to be tweaked to accommodate for the lack of typical grain flour and sweeteners. Dog biscuits usually need to be cooked longer and at lower temperatures than human cookies because it’s important for them to be dried out. Most homemade treats should also be kept in the refrigerator to keep the consistency. People can easily make dog biscuits at home using flour, water and peanut butter.

4. Don’t overindulge
“Treats are an important form of bonding and positive reinforcement,” Noll says. “You don’t want to give too many treats as this can definitely lead to obesity.”

CARROT PUPCAKES (Grain-free)
Makes 10 cupcakes

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2/3 cup (6 ounces) unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup (4 ounces) canned pumpkin (100% pumpkin, not pie filling)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup (6 ounces) brown rice flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Cream Cheese Icing (optional):
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 10 standard muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the applesauce, pumpkin puree, and oil and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and whisk until well combined (batter will be slightly thick). Stir in the grated carrot. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about three-fourths full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the center of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Remove pan from oven and allow cakes to cool completely.

Prepare the icing (if desired): Whisk together the softened cream cheese and yogurt until smooth. Spread or pipe onto the cooled cakes.

Store pupcakes (with or without icing) covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The pupcakes may also be wrapped well and frozen for up to 3 months.

PEANUT BUTTER POOCHIE COOKIES (Grain-free)
Makes 12 cookies

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 cup (4 ounces) natural peanut butter (must not contain xylitol)
1/2 cup (3 ounces) brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. In a bowl, whisk the egg until frothy. Add the peanut butter, flour, baking powder and water. Stir all ingredients together with a fork until a dough starts to form, and then mix the dough with your hands until well combined. Shape the dough into about 1-inch balls (bigger or smaller as desired) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten each dough ball with a fork until cookie is about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and allow cookies to cool completely. Store cookies in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

 

By Kristy MacKaben

 

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