Frequent readers may know that Alex and I love a good vegetable, as is evident from our roasted veggie challenge. We also make significant efforts to try to eat healthy ourselves, but this effort extends beyond our own food choices. When our dog Oliver was diagnosed with cancer, we learned a lot about the undesirable ingredients that are oftentimes added to many pet foods and treats. In our efforts to provide the healthiest food we could for Oliver, we started home cooking his meals so his body could better fight the cancer. From that experience, we decided to put a lot of emphasis on making sure our four legged family members are eating as well as we are. Their health is our responsibility and we want to do what we can to ensure they are eating good food that's good for them.
Recently Lulu was put on a special diet by our vet in an attempt to fight her chronic ear infections. These infections are caused by her tiny ear canals and little shar pei ears that don't allow for proper air flow. We love her little ears since they make her so incredibly cute, but they sure are a pain in this sense. Her current diet consists of fish, sweet potato, and veggie mix. This means no other protein or carbohydrate sources, no raw hides, and no manufactured treats. We've had to get creative in terms of how to keep her interested in her food, and how to reward her with goodies that comply with her new diet.
Lucky for us, she LOVES vegetables as much as we do. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, and lettuce top the list, but she'll eat pretty much any vegetable except for green beans. (Oliver would be disappointed in her as these were his favorite.)
Think we're kidding about Lulu's veggie obsession? Here she is, sneaking a bite or two of Brussels sprouts stalks, even before we can unpack the grocery bag.
I've found manufactured sweet potato treats at local pet shops and onine, but not only are they expensive, I'm still weary of how exactly they're processed.
WIth that in mind, I decided to do a little online research to see if I could make dog sweet potato treats at home. I discovered many recipes, the majority of which required the use of a dehydrator (which we don't have), so I settled on a hybrid version of several options that utilized a conventional oven for baking.
- 3 large sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Cut the potatoes into approximately 1/3" slices.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the slices, and toss to coat.
- Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet(s).
- Bake for approximately three hours, turning once, until potatoes are dried out.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Treats can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or in the freezer for up to four months.
- If your dog is overweight, you can omit the olive oil and bake the potatoes dry.
- Too many sweet potatoes can cause diarrhea. I'd recommend introducing new foods slowly into your dog's diet. Lulu can typically tolerate one or two large pieces a day without any...ahem...side effects.
So there you have it, an easy, healthy, and budget friendly all natural treat for your best friend. And the roughly $2.00 I spent to make these sure beats the $15.99 I spent on the last bag of dehydrated sweet potatoes! But the best part? They're a huge hit with our little lady.
Don't have a dog? Try slicing the sweet potatoes into thinner slices, and add a little salt. The result is an amazing baked sweet potato chip! I swear, Alex even keeps eyeing Lulu's treats like he's going to be eating them himself.
Have you tried to make a homemade treat for your four legged family members? Does anyone else have a pet that has unusual dietary preferences like Lulu's penchant for Romaine lettuce? If so, we'd love to hear all about it.
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