Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Healthy Dog Treats

Finding healthy dog treats can be a real challenge.  It seems that those of us with dogs are always hearing about pet food/treat recalls.  I monitor what I give my dogs for meals and treats very carefully.  One of my dogs' favorite treats are frozen pumpkin balls.

While I don't have an actual recipe for frozen pumpkin balls, I thought I'd share how I make them.  They're so easy to make and the measurements really don't matter.

Today's pumpkin balls will include 100% pure pumpkin (this is NOT pumpkin pie filling), four bananas, some Greek yogurt, and a bit of peanut butter.  They can be made without yogurt, banana, or peanut butter.  I've made pure pumpkin balls before and that's fine too.  I tend to use what I have on hand.  Sometimes I will heat apples to the point that I can mash them a bit and throw them into the mix.  Anything that is safe and healthy will work.
I add the pumpkin and banana to a mixing bowl and mix while mashing the banana.  It is easier to incorporate the banana if they're softened (over ripe).  For bananas that need help softening, you can place them in a microwave safe dish and heat them slightly.  Add them back to the pumpkin and they will mash nicely.  I find a potato masher helps get the bananas mashed so they will distribute through the pumpkin.

When the bananas and pumpkin are mixed, I add the yogurt.  I usually add what looks "right" to me.  Today I measured it and added 1-2/3 cup of yogurt.  I started adding yogurt for the probiotics.  The yogurt also increases the number of pumpkin balls you get from the mix.  The rule of thumb with adding the yogurt is to keep your mix thick enough that it will spoon into a small dropped heaps on a cookie pan.

I add peanut butter for a little bit of extra flavor.  Peanut butter should be used sparingly as you can see in the photo.  Peanut butter contains sugar so it is important to use just a bit.

After mixing the peanut butter in, the mix is ready to be dropped into individual treats.  I use a small cookie scoop to portion and drop the pumpkin mixture onto cookie sheets/pans.  A teaspoon works fine too.

I use high quality non-stick jellyroll pans that do not require any cooking spray. However, non-stick cooking spray (like Pam) is advisable when using regular cookie sheets or pans to keep the pumpkin balls from sticking.  Drop the balls close together on the pan and place in the freezer until frozen.  Keep in mind that you want to make them size appropriate for your dog.  Since mine often eat treats on the couch or on the carpet, I want these to be finished off in a couple of bites.  They freeze up quickly - I find I can usually transfer them to a ziploc bag for storage after an hour or so in the freezer.

Be ready for these special looks from your dog.  They know the yummy smell of pumpkin and peanut butter and will be very excited to get a taste.  I admit it. . .mine get to lick the bowl.   How can I say no to those faces?              


  1. I love this idea! I actually prefer my dog to lick the bowl- it saves me from cleaning it as much!

    1. LOL, Monica! Works on the dinner dishes too! ;-)

  2. This looks delicious . . . gonna make some for our Dylan DiPoochy and Gilda The Red. I didn't know you had a blog! Now I do. :-)
    (Dylan's Mom, and a lazy blogger!)

    1. My dogs really love them. I started out freezing just the pumpkin and then decided to add bananas because I had some that were soft. Somewhere along the way I added the yogurt for the probiotics. I know Dylan and Gilda will enjoy them too.

      I'll check out your blog.

  3. off to make these yummy looking doggie treats, thanks for a recipe with not a lot of ingredients. I want my dogs to have "that look" in the picture....