We read labels to avoid hidden trans fats, we shun plastics and canned goods known to contain BPA, and are leery of health-halo terms like all natural that often disguise chemical flavorings. So why don’t we do the same for our pets? “Today’s commercial dog biscuits are scary,” says Priscilla Feral, director of Friends of Animals, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization in New York. Feral points out that packaged biscuits, created to stay edible on a shelf for months or even years, are usually made with rendered tissue, bone, and byproducts from animals that could have a diet of antibiotic-filled foods, or may be diseased themselves. “The biscuits also contain ample sugar and chemical preservatives, like BHA and BHT, which the World Health Organization has named as suspicious cancer-causing compounds,” she says.
Seeing a dearth of healthy alternatives to conventional dog treats, Feral released a cookbook this month to make it easier to feed your pet treats you can feel good about. For the Love of Dog Biscuits includes a dozen recipes made with simple, whole foods like banana, peanut butter, oats, carrots, and carob (a naturally sweet chip derived from the pulp of trees; it’s caffeine-free, and unlike chocolate, isn’t poisonous to hounds). Men’s Journal taste-tested several versions with our own dogs, and found them a universal hit, even with picky eaters.
Try out one of our taste-testers’ favorites, the Peanut Butter Carob-Chip biscuits, below. Like any fresh food, the biscuits should be eaten within a week, and stored in the refrigerator (stash them in the freezer, and they’ll last a couple months).
Peanut Butter Carob-Chip Biscuits
Makes approximately two dozen three-inch biscuits
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter
- 3/4 cup vegan carob chips
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, and baking powder. Stir in the water, peanut butter, carob chips, and vanilla until the mixture forms a crumbly dough. Press the dough together to form a ball.
- On a lightly floured flat surface, knead the dough for 30 seconds or until smooth. Roll out the dough into a 10-inch circle, about 3/8-inch or less in thickness. Using a bone-shaped or other cookie cutter, cut out the biscuits and lay them 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.
- Bake at 375°F until light golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.