My house was filled today with wonderful smells coming from my oven as I baked batches of treats for all of my favorite four legged friends. It’s a great way to give a gift to any dog lover as well as providing something healthy and tasty for your own animal.
Why do I make my own? Well, according to animal experts like nutritionist, Hilary Watson, “Snacks should not make up more than 10 to 15% of your dog’s daily food intake. As long as they are kept at this ratio they should not interfere with a complete and balanced diet.” Snacks should be given in little pieces as a reward for a behavior you wish to reinforce or a new behavior you want to teach. One normal size dog cookie can be broken into several pieces, each one being about the size of a normal kibble making one biscuit go a long way. Store bought snacks can be a very expensive way of feeding your dog something that is not necessarily good for him. If you do decide to purchase snacks rather than bake them be a good label reader. Avoid snacks with a high fat content that say things like, “bacon and cheese,” as well as high calorie table scraps. Yes, your dog probably loves these but the extra fat can begin to pack on unwanted pounds adding to problems like osteoarthritis, and heart disease. Also, be aware of ingredients like dyes, and long lists of additives. Too much of the wrong kind of snacking is as bad for a dogs health as it is for yours. About 44% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, according to Ernie Ward, DVM, president of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. He founded the group in 2005 to highlight the growing problem of heavy, out-of-shape pets. But today, Ward says, “too many commercial dog treats are loaded with fat and sugar which makes them almost irresistible.” “This is why your dog will dance and howl and yip and run and do amazing things just to get one of these goodies. I call them calorie grenades.”
A great alternative to commercial snacks are baby carrots or making your own treats. When I do make treats I make it fun and interesting by trying new additions to my basic recipe, finding a new fun doggie cookie cutter to use, putting on some favorite music while I bake and taking cute pictures of my dogs who are always at my side waiting for the next batch to appear. It’s actually fun, easy and your dog will love you for it.
These Gingerbread Cookies are fun to make this time of year. I also like to add a cup of pumpkin to the recipe. When the cookies first come out of the oven everyone gets one but from them on I break each cookie in to three pieces, each piece counts as one serving.
These are as fun to make as they are to share!
1 cup molasses
1 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
6 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger or one tsp. of dried powder ginger
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the molasses, water, and oil in a medium bowl.
In another large bowl mix the flour, the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Combine well. Divide this dough in four sections and roll each piece into a ball, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 – 5 hours.
After the dough is well-chilled put dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll dough out into 1/4″ thickness. Cut dough with a cookie cutter into gingerbread men or other fun shapes.