While you’re making all those cookies, pies, and other goodies for the humans over the holidays, how about trying your hand at treats for your dog or cat? It’s a lot easier than you might think, and a great way to know exactly what’s in the treats you’re feeding.

There are plenty of recipes online, but before you go searching, remember to make sure the recipe contains ingredients that are healthful and safe. Cats may be more finicky than dogs (although not always), so you may have to experiment a bit to find what works for your pet.

Some healthy options for ingredients include:

  • Pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • Peanut butter (make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets)
  • Apple (or other fruits like blueberries)
  • Carrot (or other veggies your pet likes)
  • Cheese
  • Fish (canned tuna, anchovies, or sardines are great inexpensive options)

There are also plenty of ingredients you should avoid, as they can be toxic to pets, including:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Sugar-free gums and candies (containing xylitol)
  • Sausage or pepperoni
  • Onions and garlic
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Unbaked bread dough
  • Alcohol

You can have a lot of fun with shapes and sizes. It’s easy to just roll out dough to the desired thickness and use a knife or pizza cutter to score the dough before baking – making it simple to create treats the size you want. You can also purchase molds or cookie cutters in the shapes of bones or fish (for example). Some are quite large, so be aware of how many of those treats you’re handing out so pets don’t end up packing on pounds! For small training treats, or for smaller dogs or cats, silicone baking mats with tiny squares or circles are perfect for portion control.

Have fun, and don’t forget, homemade treats can be a great gift idea for all your pet-loving friends and family members, too! If you have questions about how treats – at any time of year! – fit into a healthy diet for your pet, schedule an appointment to speak with one of our veterinarians. And as always, if your pet DOES eat something they shouldn’t, our Union location has emergency services available.