How do you express the unique and immeasurable love you have for your dog to your dog? I bet ear scratches, tummy rubs, and treats are your first thoughts. I also bet your treat stash includes sweet potato dog treats, am I right?
If not, you should consider adding them. Sweet potatoes are not only safe for dogs, but they also provide a range of health benefits and are great for their digestive health.
You want your dog to live as long and as happy a life as possible. One way to help make that happen is by occasionally giving them healthy, and yummy sweet potato dog treats.
So, what are the benefits of sweet potatoes and how should you make some of those tail wagging (your dog’s tail, not yours) sweet potato dog treats?
Why Sweet Potato Dog Treats?
While sweet potatoes should not be the primary source of nutrition for your dog, they are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Eating fiber lowers the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer not only in humans but in dogs as well.
Sweet potatoes are low in fat and rich in vitamins A, B6, C, calcium, potassium, and iron. Each of these nutrients plays a vital role in your dog's overall wellness. Cooked sweet potatoes, with the skin removed, are a beneficial nutritional ingredient in dog treats.
According to the American Kennel Club, you should never feed your dog raw sweet potatoes. Raw sweet potatoes can be difficult to chew, upset your dog's stomach, and potentially cause intestinal blockage.
I have yet to find a recipe for sweet potato dog treats made of raw sweet potatoes; nonetheless, it's useful information to know
Dr. Barrack of the AKC stresses, "Too much of a good thing can cause bone and muscle weakness, due to excessive vitamin A." So don't over-treat your fur baby.
Alas, that adage of "everything in moderation" being the key to health and longevity applies to dogs as well. Sorry, Fido.
4 Reasons Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Treats Are Better than Store Bought
I'm sure there are more than four reasons to make homemade dog treats, but I'm going to focus on what I consider the top four.
1. It's all about control
Undoubtedly the number one, and the most important reason is you control what ingredients go into those homemade treats. Other than not purchasing them, you have no control of the contents in store-bought treats.
Have you ever read the ingredient label on dog treats? Can you even pronounce those ingredients? How many of those ingredients grow in a petri dish or a chemists test tube?
Your homemade treats will be fresh with no need for harmful preservatives or chemicals.
Oh, and let's not even delve into the dangers brought about as to where purchased dog treats are made. Just one word should immediately send you to the kitchen pulling out mixing bowls and warming up your oven. The word? China.
Over the past decade, there have been several instances of contaminated pet food being recalled after pets have fallen ill. Since there are so many ingredients now only made in China, it's virtually impossible to be assured your purchased treats are safe.
2. Some bacon, please?
Making your dog's treats allows you the ability to adjust the amount and type of ingredients suited for your dog's individual and unique tastes, nutritional needs, and digestive issues. That’s not possible with store-bought treats.
3. Shoes and shirt optional
Admittedly, there are times this could take the number one slot, but the real number three reason is you don’t have to get dressed and drive to the store.
Your kitchen is available round the clock, with no requirement of shirt and shoes. You can enter your kitchen barefoot, sans shirt, and make the treats whenever the mood hits, or the treat bin is empty.
Plus, your dogs get to smell the yummy treats as you’re making them, which they have to prefer over smelling a cardboard box or cellophane wrapper.
4. Keep your arm and leg
Last word: cost. It is so much cheaper to make sweet potato dog treats at home. Homemade sweet potato dog treats will not cost you an arm and a leg.
All that being said, not making homemade sweet potato treats boils down to one of two reasons. Either you think it’s too difficult to make sweet potato dog treats, or you forgot to pick up sweet potatoes in your last grocery haul.
We can’t help you with the latter, but if you keep reading, we’ll change your mind on the former.
Here’s What You’ll Need to Make Sweet Potato Dog Treats
No need to panic at the thought of buying tools or ingredients. Most likely all the things you need, ingredients and tools, to make sweet potato dog treats are probably already sitting in your pantry.
The tools or equipment you will need, or not
If you are fortunate enough to have a kitchen full of the latest and greatest in tools and equipment, you have no excuse for not making sweet potato treats.
Even if your kitchen (like most) is missing some of those latest and greatest, you still have no excuse.
Lets quickly review what kitchen equipment and tools you will use in making sweet potato dog treats. Relax, it's a very short list.
First, you measure
Unless you’re an experienced cook with an exceptional eye for measuring, you will need some measuring implements.
Then you mix
You will need something to mix the ingredients. That could be as simple as a mixing bowl with a spoon, and some muscle.
A Kitchen Aid is a bit easier on the muscles and takes less time.
However, if you are fortunate enough to have a stand mixer (I love my dog bone, btw), your muscles will have to wait for a trip to the gym, and it will take you no time at all to get everything all mixed.
Then you shape
If you have them, get them out and use them. Your friends will ooh and aww over how adorable your homemade treats look. But you do not need them.
It’s easy enough to roll the dough into balls and flatten them into discs. Your friends may not be as impressed with their look, but they’ll still be impressed that you made your pooches treats.
Your dog could care less about what they look like; they will happily scarf them down no matter how they look. I’m speaking from experience here.
Now you bake, chill, or freeze
Image via Flickr
If you’re making baked sweet potato dog treats, you will need a pan or cookie sheet to bake them on. Silicone mats or parchment paper, while not necessary, do make cleanup easier.
Obviously, for baked treats, you will need an oven, although a toaster oven also works. Again, speaking from experience.
If you’re making the no-bake treats, you’ll need a refrigerator or freezer. Duh
And now the ingredients
It's pretty apparent that the star of sweet potato dog treat is the sweet potato. Except for the chewy treats, you will want to cook and mash the sweet potato before adding it to other ingredients
The flour or grain used will depend on your dog's sensitivities. Many dogs have wheat allergies, making oat an excellent grain substitute for making homemade treats.
When the recipe calls for eggs, use the ones in your refrigerator. Eggs provide an excellent source of riboflavin and selenium, which are very digestible proteins.
A note of interest with eggs is that you always want to feed your dog cooked eggs as raw egg whites can cause a biotin deficiency in dogs.
When sweet potato dog treats call for a fat, you want to stick with fish, sunflower, flaxseed, coconut, or olive oils. All beneficial to your dog's overall health, pretty much just like yours.
Peanut butter is not only useful for hiding pills for your dog, but it is also a high-value occasional treat.
However, it is crucial to avoid any peanut butter, or any product, that includes Xylitol, a common sugar-replacement sweetener. While safe for humans, it is incredibly poisonous to dogs and poisons thousands of dogs each year.
How much time will it take?
As with most recipes, some are quick and easy, and some are quite elaborate and time-consuming.
The following three recipes are all quicker than a trip to and from the grocery store. And they're easy enough for those of you who aren't intimately familiar with your kitchens' abilities.
3 Easy Recipes for Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Treats
These three recipes for sweet potato dog treats are so easy the only excuse you will have for not making them is not having any sweet potatoes. So stock up on your next grocery run, both you and your dog will be happy you did.
Sweet potato chews
These chews are also human-friendly, so you may either have to hide them in a "just for Fido" place or make more.
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
- Line two baking sheets with silicone mats, parchment paper, or lightly spray them with a non-stick spray
- Peel the sweet potatoes
- Use a knife or mandoline to cut the sweet potato into 1/4 inch slices**
- Arrange the sweet potato pieces in a single layer on the baking sheets and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours
- Halfway through the cooking time, flip each piece
- Continue baking until sweet potatoes are shrunken and dried out (some will be chewy, and some will be crisp)
- Let cool, then store in an air-tight container in the fridge for about three weeks
Could it be any easier? I think not.
**Note: depending on the size of your dog, cut across the sweet potato into rounds or lengthwise into oblong shapes. Round for small dogs and oblong for larger dogs.
Sweet potatoes and oats are both excellent natural sources of dietary fiber. Natural peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats. And in this recipe, it acts as a binder holding each of the ingredients together.
- Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl
- If you are using a stand mixer, use either your flat blade or dough hook
- Mix all ingredients until well blended
- Divide dough into approximately 2-ounce portions, about the size of a golf ball
- If using a silicone mold, press each 2-ounce piece into the mold, making sure you have filled the mold cavity. If not using a mold, roll each portion into a ball, shape as desired (or leave it in a ball) and place on a plate
- Put in refrigerator or freezer and allow to rest and firm up for 30 minutes
- Gently remove from mold, if using, and place treats in an airtight container
These protein packed treats store well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. If storing for a more extended period, place in freezer appropriate bag or container and store in the freezer for up to three months.
Super easy baked treats
By substituting oats for flour in this recipe you avoid an allergy trigger in many dogs. Oats are tolerated well by most dogs and contain anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing properties. They are also rich in silicon, which helps make bones strong.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Add the oats to a food processor or blender and process until the oats have a consistency of course flour
- Combine the oat flour, sweet potato, and coconut oil into a bowl and mix until well combined
- Add the water, 1 Tablespoon at a time mixing thoroughly with each addition, until you can squeeze the mixture with your fingers into a ball
- Empty the bowl onto either a silicone mat or lightly floured surface and knead until you have a solid ball of dough (use oat flour if your dog has wheat allergies)
- Roll or pat out the mixture to a thickness of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch or 3 to 4 millimeters (you may need to use light sprinklings of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the surface)
- Cut dough out into shapes with either a cookie cutter, overturned glass, knife, or pizza wheel
- Carefully transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (pay careful attention to your cookies after 20 minutes)
- Cool on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container
Stored in an airtight container these will keep for approximately two months.
Final Thoughts Before You Head to the Kitchen
We've discussed three easy, yet different, recipes for sweet potato dog treats, what you'll need to make them, why you should make them, and the benefit of making them.
We've also told you nutritious treats can be made at your leisure, even in your pj's in the middle of the night.
So the only thing left is to ask just how many sweet potatoes are you going to buy the next time you're at the grocery store?
Let us know how your treats turned out and just how much your dog loved them. And if you have a favorite recipe for sweet potato dog treats, please share in the comments below.