5 Stupidly Simple Treats You Can Make NOW!
Treats. Those completely unnecessary extra bits of food that we insist on feeding our animals because we love them, or want them to perform tricks, or learn new commands, or just do as we say. But have you ever stopped to consider what's actually in them? Do you realise that treats are not subject to the same nutritional requirements or standards as 'complete' pet foods? In some countries they are not regulated at all, and some treats themselves are not even considered "food" products, such as 'raw hide' for example, because it is not a by-product of the food industry, but actually a by-product of the leather industry!!! Ewwww.....!!!
COMMERCIAL PET TREATS
Mass-produced commercial 'complete' pet food is already a dumping ground for cheap waste products not fit for human consumption, but you haven't seen anything until you've dug beneath the artificially coloured and scented exterior of commercial pet treats. (The reason for this colouring and scenting by the way is actually to appeal to YOU, the pet parent, and has absolutely no bearing on the quality, freshness or 'meatiness' of the treat in question!!)
Now without naming names, I'm am not surprised in the slightest why dogs would go wacko after eating a snack with an ingredients listing like this: "Rice flour, maize flour, humectants, wheat flour, sucrose, cellulose, vitamins and minerals, beef, salt, flavours (poultry and beef), cereal protein, preservative, colour and oils and fats" or this,
"Wheat flour, starches, humectant, cereal protein, soya flour, sucrose, cheese powder, vitamins and minerals, beef, salt, colours, fats and oils, preservative, flavour (poultry), taurine and antioxidants" or this,
"Cereals; meat and meat by-products from lamb and/or pork, beef and/or poultry; sugar; palatant; vitamins and minerals; salt; emulsifier; antioxidants and preservatives."
Seriously? There is virtually NOTHING of any substance whatsoever in any of those. Like not even a small amount I might be able to deal with coz it's "just a treat". Don't forget either that you usually buy a whole packet of these things, so one for today only, is really actually more like on the daily for the next couple of weeks! Double ewww...
I might also point out that the first treat listed contains 95% SUGAR(!!), but they wont tell you that on the label because pet food manufacturers have managed to get around having to label carbohydrates on their packaging. You'll find amounts for crude protein and crude fat (but don't mistake either of those for usable proteins, or beneficial fats), but you will never see carbohydrate (or more plainly, sugar) listed. Why? Because many if not most commercial foods are so high in cheap filler carbohydrate ingredients that too many people would start asking too many questions if they did. And maybe stop buying their products!! But back to the treats....
I think it's VITALLY important that every pet owner starts reading the ingredients labels on the food and the treats that they purchase. If it sounds like a bunch of chemical junk, it's probably because it is! There are some much better alternatives available on the market if you like to purchase ready made treats, but please for the love of your fur-ball go into an actual pet store and ask some questions. Don't rely on the supermarket shelf because you will only find junk! And READ THE LABEL!
BETTER PACKAGED OPTIONS
We have used small packets of Ziwi Peak (a very high quality air-dried pet food from NZ) as treats when introducing new training techniques or travelling with the pooch, we have also used locally made pet treats containing minimal whole-food ingredients which I keep in the fridge to prevent spoilage, dehydrated green-lipped mussels make an excellent treat, as do small pieces of fruit and veg, but often we just make our own because frankly it's ridiculously easy to do and then you know EXACTLY whats going into them, AND the process by which they were made. AND it's cheaper! Sometimes WAY cheaper!! No brainer!
So without further adieu here's 5 stupidly simple treat recipes that you can make in your home today, like right now if you wanted, or right after you head to the market, and they're totally people safe too, because, really, if they're not.... no brainer!
Fresh Chicken Jerky: turn the oven on low (say 120°C), thinly slice (1/2-1cm) chicken breast lengthways to create strips, place on a baking tray lined with bake paper and bake for approx. 2hrs. Check and allow to cool completely before feeding or transferring the jerky into an air-tight container which you can store in the fridge for 2-3weeks
Sweet Potato Jerky: Clean/scrub but leave the skin on. Cook as above, however you may need longer, around 3hrs. Flip the sweet potato halfway through and when done allow to cool completely before storing in a dry, air-tight container.
Icicles: These are especially magical in the heat of summer! Grab out your ice-cube trays or cupcake moulds and blitz up some fresh fruit (not grapes), I LOVE watermelon for this (just remember to take off the seeds and rind), as it's super hydrating with an exceptionally high water content, but I have tried mango, apple, blueberries & banana. You can go naked like this or add a bit of coconut water, coconut milk, some plain organic live yoghurt if your animal can handle it, or for a true treat you can add a bit of bone broth or homemade stock (just remember which ones are which if you also plan on having a cocktail party!). Pour into the moulds, let it set and voila! Ready to go cool-down treats on a stinking hot day without the hassle! * If you have a fussy cat you can also try mixing a tin of tuna with some water and freezing this in ice cube trays!!!
Biscuits: Preheat oven to 180°C, line baking tray. In a bowl mix together 1cup wholewheat flour, 1/4cup milk, and 1 small tin of tuna. Then add 1 beaten egg and 1tsp of oil to form a sticky batter. Place teaspoon sized blobs on baking paper (can flatten a little if not too sticky) and bake for 20-25mins. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in fridge for up to 7 days.
Meatballs: Dead easy. Grab some mince meat, say 200-300g worth, an egg and some leftover brown rice or quinoa, say 1/4-1/2 cup. Mix and roll into small balls of whatever size you deem appropriate for your animal. Cook for a few minutes either side until golden and allow to cool before storing / refrigerating.
What's your favourite pet treat? What's your pets favourite treat? Have you found an amazing local treat company that you can trust? Let us know in the comments below and together we can get the word out and start REALLY treating our beloved fur-balls!!!