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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Dog Treat Recipe Ingredients To Avoid

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

If you're hunting for a dog treat recipe, you want to keep some things in mind. While making your own dog treats is a wonderful idea, both in terms of saving money and avoiding any artificial additives in store bought varieties, you need to make sure that you aren't including anything that could be harmful to your dog. There are some foods that are known to be poisonous to dogs and others that aren't necessarily as obvious but should still be avoided. Here are a few:

  • Cheese and Milk – While dairy products aren't deadly for dogs, they can be problematic. Like humans, some dogs may be lactose intolerant. In this case, you can do the same thing for your pet that you would do for yourself– substitute soy milk, almond milk, or even chicken or beef broth for regular milk. You can also substitute lactose-free cheeses for traditional cheese.
  • Liver – This one may come as a surprise as liver is frequently used as an ingredient in dog treats, particularly treats used in obedience training, dog agility training, and other work with Australian Shepherds. Since dogs have such a complex sense of smell, liver is used because of its overpowering scent. However, large amounts of cooked liver can cause Vitamin A toxicity, so you want to use liver sparingly in your dog treat recipes.
Homemade dog treats spilling from a glass jar.

RoJo Images /

Make sure any recipe you use has healthy, safe ingredients.

  • Macadamia Nuts and Walnuts – These nuts are highly toxic for dogs and can cause weakness, muscle tremors and paralysis, so we would highly recommend leaving them out of any dog treat recipe. Other nuts are safe, but they may contain high quantities of salt and fat so you should still tread carefully when using them.
  • Onions – Many dogs like the smell of onions but that doesn't mean you should indulge them. Onions can actually cause changes in red blood cells that could lead to anemia. Usually this only happens when eaten in large quantities but it's better to be safe than sorry, so we recommend leaving them out of your recipes entirely.
  • Chocolate – this is one of the more dangerous ingredients for dogs and should never be included in any recipe intended for dogs. The effects of eating chocolate can range from vomiting and diarrhea to abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and in some cases even death. Breeds like the Australian Shepherd, which tend to be highly active, may be even more sensitive to the effects of caffeine in chocolate, so it's a good idea to avoid it for that reason alone.
Brain Training for Dogs

Keep Sugar And Salt To A Minimum In Any Dog Treat Recipe

Along with these specific ingredients, you may also want to limit the amount of salt and sugar you use in your recipes. We generally add salt and sugar to our foods to enhance flavor but since dogs "taste" with their noses rather than their mouths, it is not necessary to add to the flavor for them. Excess salt can actually cause kidney issues and, as in humans, an abundance of sugar can lead to tooth decay and obesity, so it is best to limit their use as much as possible.

You can also find high quality treats from places like Sojos and Only Natural Pet that are made specifically for dogs. It's not always possible to find the time to bake dog treats from scratch and these alternatives allow you to always have healthy dog treats on hand.

By all means, indulge your furry friend with a healthy homemade dog treat recipe or two, but remember to use caution when including these ingredients to avoid any potential problems. icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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