According to the Petfinder website, 63 percent of dog owners purchase and give their dogs Christmas presents, but you don't have to spend a lot on these gifts. Instead, make some tasty, inexpensive homemade treats to give him as a gift. Use natural, healthy ingredients to create decorative treats that your dog will enjoy eating during your holiday celebrations.
When making Christmas dog treats, use ingredients not only that your dog will find tasty, but that will also provide him with some nutritional value. Treats made with meat as the primary ingredient give your dog extra protein and contain healthy amino and essential fatty acids. Use chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, salmon or venison, depending on which your dog prefers. Grind meats in a food processor to add to them to dough. Some dogs on restricted diets may require a specific meat based on your veterinarian's recommendations.
Make treat dough by adding whole wheat flour, oats or brown rice to your ground meats. These ingredients add extra fiber to your dog's diet. Fresh vegetables such as spinach lend a touch of holiday color to treats without added artificial colors, as does tomato juice. If using broths to flavor treats, opt for low-sodium varieties to reduce your dog's salt intake. Mix in fresh vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and green beans. If adding oils to your recipe, use fish or flaxseed oil, both of which help keep your dog's coat shiny and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Create several kinds of treats for your dog, including baked cookies and cakes. Combine ground meats with flour, oil, broth, vegetables or cheese to bake into small, crunchy cookies in the oven or a larger cakelike treat. Make grain-free treats for your dog if he is on a restricted diet by eliminating flour or rice from your treats. Instead, use a vegetable protein such as mashed black beans to make the treats suitable for baking. Frozen treats can be made using ingredients like plain yogurt, which contains helpful probiotic bacteria. Puree fresh fruits with the yogurt to flavor your frozen treats and pour the mixture into ice cube trays to freeze overnight. Color them in festive red and green using added fruit or vegetable juices.
Shape your dog treat cookies into Christmas shapes. Roll out your treat dough and use cookie cutters in such shapes as Christmas trees, stars, ornaments or Santa hats. Frost such treats or cakes with "icing" made from leftover mashed potatoes and carve holiday designs, such as a Christmas tree, into them with a butter knife. If giving your treats as gifts, wrap them in red or green cellophane and tie them with decorative ribbon. A decorative tin can also be used to store and present treats as gifts.
Feed your dog his Christmas treats in moderation. Treats should not make up more than 5 to 10 percent of a dog's calories each day, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. During holiday meals, keep treats nearby to give to your dog and resist giving your dog table scraps, which can cause stomach upset. If your dog has any dietary restrictions due to a chronic health condition, consult your veterinarian before giving the dog homemade treats. Consider bringing a box of treats to your local shelter as a Christmas pick-me-up for needy dogs.
- santa dog image by Jake Hellbach from Fotolia.com