Friday Recipe Exchange: Pet Treats

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product.

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product. Photo by JeffreyW

While I was debating between two topic requests for this week’s recipe exchange, a commenter at Balloon-Juice sparked a whole new idea. Pet Treats. So I asked for some ideas and those became tonight’s post. Thanks to ButchF, MattR, WereBear and JeffreyW for the ideas.

First from JefferyW – Cheddar Cheese Biscuits  (recipe here)

And MattR gave us the recipe he uses for Peanut Butter Treats (recipe here)

Then I decided cat lovers needed equal time, so I contacted WereBear of Way of Cats, and asked for her advice on cat treats. Here’s what she told me:

Aw, so sweet of you to think of me and the kitties. Now that’s parity!

However, while dogs are gourmands, cats are fussy gourmets. So I can’t guarantee happy consumption. In fact, [here is] Why Cats Are Fussy  (read here) …. because not all cats are going to like all things.

That said, here is my recipe for Chicken Liver Pate for Kitties:

  • 1 cup chicken livers
  • 2 tbsp butter or bacon fat
  • sprinkle of catnip (or parsley, sage, or basil, if cat likes the smell)

Classically, pate includes onions, but these (and all bulbs!) are toxic to cats.

Melt fat in pan, and saute livers JUST until ALMOST done. Do not overcook or the pate will lose its silky texture. Then sprinkle the herbs of choice. (Test them via smell on our kitty, or kitties. A sharpening of attention is a good sign; aversion will be quite evident.)

Now cool a bit (livers will finish cooking here) and scrape all contents onto a cutting board (if chopping by hand) or into a blender or food processor. If our cat likes chunky, hand mincing is easy and quick; if our cat likes smoothness, we can blend.

Be sure it has cooled to being only warm before offering it to our cat. Part of the fun is making a fuss over how good it smells. Get them worked up! This is Dinner Theatre.

Leftovers can be dabbed onto a sheet of waxed paper or into ice cube trays and put in the freezer for an hour or so. Then they can be put into a freezer bag for easy treats next time.

So good, and so good for them!

Now I have to figure out how to explain to my cats that garlic is not good for them, because they go after anything I have that is extra garliky. Silly felines, garlic is for everyone else.

How about it? Do you make your own pet treats? Have any favorite recipes you want to share? But what I really want are lots of pet stories, because I know you have them! Hit the comments.

Now on to the featured recipe. This all started because ButchF  said he makes dog biscuits every week for his dogs and they won’t accept anything else. I, of course, asked him to share the recipe.

Just a few notes from me – all my dogs have been allergic to corn – we’d get bad digestive issues. So if that’s the case for your furry critters, go ahead and substitute brown rice flour or oat flour for the corn meal in this recipe. It may very well change the texture, so experiment with the amount of substitution, just remember as ButchF notes, you want to be able to roll it out. As long as you can roll it out, it should be fine once you bake it. These are dog treats people, not gourmet crackers you are serving to company. Dogs will eat just about anything including cat droppings, horse apples and light bulbs. As long as the final product does not crumble onto your floor before they can wolf it down, you’re probably good.

On to the recipe.  From ButchF:

Dog Biscuits

This recipe has been modified pretty extensively from the original, which I found in an old cookbook. First, the original included boiled, pureed liver, which not only made the cookies perishable but meant handling boiled, pureed liver. Second, the original used so much water that the dough looked like pancake batter, and couldn’t be rolled out or cut.

There is a disadvantage to these treats. A while ago I got busy and bought some commercial milk bones because I didn’t have time to make the treats. The dogs would take them each to their designated snack spot, drop them on the floor, and stare forlornly at this strange foreign object they had been given.

Some optional additions to the recipe include ¼ cup or so wheat germ, ½ cup brewer’s yeast, or some grated cheese. Do not, unless you feel like cleaning the carpet, add bacon grease or leftover gravy.

  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon or so honey (I don’t measure)
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons bullion (powdered; the cubes won’t dissolve in the dough)(optional; also can use flavor packet from Ramen noodles)
  • 2½ cups warm water
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1¾ cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups corn meal (see TaMara’s note above)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (don’t substitute rye flour, because it behaves differently than wheat flours)
  • At least 3½ cups white flour.

Adding water and eggs first to the bowl first, combine all ingredients except white flour in a bowl, and then add white flour a cup at a time and mix well (best using a heavy-duty stand mixer). More than 3 1/2 cups of white flour may be needed. The goal is a smooth, cohesive dough that cleans the sides of the bowl and can be handled fairly easily, but don’t get it too dry or it becomes impossible to roll out.

Remove from bowl and let rest, covered, about a half hour; the goal is to let the gluten relax more than it is to allow the dough to rise. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll out each on a well-floured surface into a large rectangle to about pie crust thickness.

Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets and cut into rectangles to whatever size using a wheel pizza cutter. (I use four cookie sheets to bake; two are big enough that they take up most of an oven rack, and two are small enough that they will fit together on one rack, so that all three racks in the oven can be used.)

Bake at 300 degrees for about 55 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back at least once during baking; remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheets. Don’t cover until they’re thoroughly cool.

These cookies are at least a weekly chore with my four big dogs, so I don’t try to make shapes other than rectangles. If you do want to make shapes, transfer the rolled dough to the cookie sheets and then cut out the shapes, because otherwise the dough tends to stretch.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to tonight’s recipe exchange. And just a brief public service note from me. If your dog or cat has digestive issues, hot spots, chews or scratches incessantly, loses an excessive amount of hair, or their hair has a bad texture (too dry or too oily) these can all be signs of a corn allergy. Especially with breed dogs it can be bad. I learned this the hard way, with Great Danes and Greyhounds, all very big dogs to have to deal with these issues. (shudders from the memory)

This was before it was easy to find pet foods without corn, so I made my own. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but it solved all of their issues. Thank goodness you can find good quality food without corn now. My cats are on a corn-free diet, too and the shedding and fur balls are down to a minimum.  So if your favorite furry critter is suffering from any of those issues, my (not meant to be a substitute for a veterinarian)  advice it so start by getting rid of corn and corn meal. Maybe even go to a very basic lamb/brown rice food to see if helps. Some dogs (not naming names, Miss Shelby) can even be allergic to all grains. And grass. Some flowers. Possibly my ex-husband. So it may take some experimenting.

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