I often come across recipes for homemade healthy dog treats and dog food. Be it scrolling through social media or looking for blog post ideas on Google, there are ample recipes to be found on the internet. It’s time I shed some light on common misconceptions in this topic, as the term healthy can be very deceiving.
We love creating delicious food. You can find us in the kitchen following new recipes and creating our own every single day. Not only do we spend ample time creating nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner for ourselves; we also spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen preparing our dogs’ food. It might not come as a surprise that we uploaded some recipes for homemade healthy dog treats ourselves.
With 48% of American households owning dogs, there are a total of 89 million best friends in homes across the States. These four-leggeds are part of the family. And of course, their owners want to care of them as much as of themselves and their children. We’re all dedicated to keep our family happy and healthy, no matter what it takes.
After studying dog behavior and nutrition at university, I realized that many common opinions shared by dog owners, commercials, pet store owners, and veterinarians alike did not align with what I had learned over time.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
Dogs and humans are quite dissimilar species. Diet, exercise, and hygiene are all important factors that determine the health of both human and dog. However, there’s one thing that many dog owners fail to recognize. Dogs are part of our family and we might value them as equal to ourselves, but physically speaking, they are not. When it comes to feeding our pets, we have to consider that they are a different species entirely. And in particular, that their digestive system differs quite strongly from ours.
What might be healthy for us is not necessarily healthy for another animal. It’s no secret that horses and cows eat plants. We see them slowly walking on pastures eating grass all day. We find lions and tigers at the other end of the food chain, chasing, catching and eating other animals. It’s not a difficult task to point out that these groups of animals strongly differ from one another.
Predatory species are agile whereas the grazers have a rather bulky appearance. Grazers’ jaws can move sideways and their molars are flat, but predators lack this ability to grind food. Instead, they carry pointy teeth in the back of their mouths. Cows have several stomachs and very long intestines, whereas lions have an incredibly short digestive system. This, in itself, already shows a strong distinction in their ideal diet. Plants are tough to digest whereas meat digests quite easily.
Dogs fit into the predatory category. Although selective breeding has increased the ability (of some breeds of dog) to digest starch, dogs belong to the same species as wolves and they are very similar to lions when it comes to their digestive system. They have sharp teeth and are unable to properly chew vegetables; which is crucial in order to digest vegetables. They also lack enzymes in their saliva that help plant eaters (and humans) break down tough greens. Try feeding your dog a few cubes of carrot for fun, and see what comes out the other end a day later 😉
Now you are probably wondering, what does any of this have to do with homemade healthy dog treats? Why do I have to keep this in mind when looking for a dog treat recipe?
Look at it like this. Fish is commonly seen as healthy for people, but should we feed tuna to a horse? Grass is healthy for a cow, but should we as humans eat it for a snack every time we’re craving some food? Both we and the horses would probably survive, and we can definitely think of other scenarios that are completely safe, but is it really healthy for us, too?
When looking at dog treats, even those recipes that are called healthy, we should take a second to look at the ingredients used. Simply remember this: something that is called ‘healthy’ might look great to you as a human, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily healthy for your four legged friend.
By no means am I trying to say you shouldn’t try such a recipe from time to time, it’s just important to realize that we have to think twice before assuming human-healthy food is dog-healthy, too! Take a look at the video below to see the difference in diet between the two-leggeds and four-leggeds in our family.
Part of the family
Sadly, most healthy homemade dog treats recipes contain whole wheat flour, oats, and peanut butter, three ingredients that are great for humans but not at all healthy for dogs. Even though some recipes might include additional ingredients that provide nutrients that are indeed beneficial to both humans and dogs, they shouldn’t necessarily be a staple part of your dog’s diet. That could be similar to us drinking a milkshake with fresh strawberries on a daily basis; delicious, fresh vitamins from the strawberries, but still unhealthy.
Naturally, this doesn’t solely go for recipes of dog treats. Those of you who have visited our website before or who have followed our dogs’ instagram might know that we feed our two dogs a raw diet. The sole reason for us to feed this type of diet is that it specifically fits this species of animal. We’re proud to feed our dogs this food, and wouldn’t change it for the world. Shockingly, we’ve heard many people declare with similar pride that they make an additional portion of their own dinner and feed it to their dog. Their dogs are ‘part of the family’ and should hence eat the same.
Though dogs are our best friends, they are a different species of animal entirely and deserve to be treated as such. And do remember; in order to be happy, dogs don’t need unhealthy treats!