The holidays aren’t quite as special when your dog isn’t involved, right? He’s part of the family, after all! Even though he may not understand what you’re celebrating, he definitely participates in the traditions: feasting and enjoying the company of family.
The most exciting part of this holiday for your dog is probably the food. Although dogs can eat certain classic Thanksgiving staples–think turkey and mashed potatoes without seasoning–the Thanksgiving table is a minefield of foods that are toxic.
So here’s an idea: why not distract your pup with some tasty treats made just for him? Here are four Thanksgiving recipes for your dog to get you started:
This delectable dish combines several Thanksgiving foods that dogs love, and most importantly, are allowed to eat. One serving is about a cup. The recipe takes only about half an hour to prepare and makes nine servings. You can even make extra so your pup will have leftovers just like everyone else!
For this Thanksgiving medley dog treat, you will need:
- 3 pounds of skinless turkey pieces (you can use both light and dark meat)
- 1 cup of cooked oatmeal
- 1 pound of cubed sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce
- 4 tablespoons of turkey gravy
Turkey gravy does tend to be heavy in fat. So, if your dog is on a special diet or you know fat upsets his tummy, it can be omitted or substituted with olive oil. Plus, if you’re already cooking your turkey, you can use pieces and gravy from that to make this recipe even easier. All you have to do is cook the ingredients separately, mix them together, add the gravy or oil, and voila! Your dog is in Thanksgiving heaven.
Pumpkin Pie Treats
Luckily, pumpkin is a super-healthy food for dogs so it’s easy to make healthy pumpkin dog treats. If you’re making your pup a Turkey Day dessert, though, remember not to add sweeteners. Sugar or honey can be very damaging to a dog’s system.
This recipe for pumpkin pie dog treats won’t take too much time out of your Turkey Day preparations, and you probably already have the ingredients.
For these treats, you will need:
- 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- ½ cup of water
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of pumpkin puree
Make sure you use plain pumpkin only for this recipe and not pumpkin pie filling. Mix the peanut butter, flour, water, and egg. Stir it well – this mixture will become the crust for these treats. Grab a 24 cup mini muffin tin, or a 12-cup if you want larger treats, and spray or grease it. Then, take the dough you’ve made and press it along the bottom and side of each muffin cup to create the crust of your “pie”. After that, spread the pumpkin puree over the crusts.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let them cool completely before placing them in an airtight container or giving them to your dog. They’ll last for about a week in the refrigerator or for up to three months in the freezer.
Butternut Squash Stew
This dog-friendly butternut squash stew makes a balanced meal, and will leave your pup begging for more! This recipe will make about six to eight cups of stew.
For this yummy homemade dog treat, you will need:
- 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup of frozen green peas
- 8-ounce package of frozen butternut squash
- 1 cup of uncooked whole-grain rice or barley
- Fresh parsley, if desired
Start with a nonstick stewpot and heat it on medium heat. Add the chicken chunks to the pot, allowing them to brown on both sides. Then, add the frozen peas and stir. After that, break up the frozen butternut squash over the mix and stir. Cover the pot and let it cook.
You’ll want to give it about two minutes so the squash thaws out. When you can easily stir all the ingredients, pour in the rice or barley. Bring the liquid to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low, cover it, and simmer until the rice is fully cooked.
If your stew is stuck on the thick side, you can add some low-sodium chicken stock to thin it out. Finish it off with a final stir. Let the stew cool completely before you pour some in your puppy’s dish. You can add a bit of fresh parsley as a garnish for a fancy touch.
Turkey and Cranberry Dog Treats
Dogs shouldn’t be fed too much cranberry sauce because of its high sugar content, but cranberry itself is actually very healthy for dogs! Here is a great turkey and cranberry dog treat recipe to banish your pup’s baleful look on Thanksgiving and for days after.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 cup of whole cranberries
- 1 cup of cooked turkey, bone-in
- 3 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- ½ cup of water or broth, to use as needed
If you happen to cook your turkey the same time as you make this pup-friendly treat, you can substitute the olive oil and water for the turkey broth. Start by mixing the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Using a blender or food processor, combine the turkey, egg, and some of the water or broth if necessary. When your mixture is similar to the consistency of baby food, add the cranberries and blend. After this step, your mixture should look more like a smoothie.
Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to create a dough. Don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth, it’s going to be a thick dough. Knead the dough and then roll it out to bake on a cookie sheet. You’ll likely need two greased cookie sheets and you can cut out the treats with cookie cutters.
You’ll cook these in the oven for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. When they’re finished, let them cool completely before giving them to your dogs or popping the leftovers in the refrigerator.
It’s so much fun to make your pup special treats on the day when pigging out is celebrated. Just be sure that everyone is on the same page about whether or not your dog is getting human food. Make sure your guests know which human foods contain ingredients that will mess up your pup’s day.