dogs

sweet potato and apple dog treats

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now it’s officially December.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I really can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by. The idea that we’re now in December is completely bewildering to me, but here were are. Early December always puts me in the mood to do two things.

1) Find and decorate the perfect little Christmas Tree

and 2) Bake holiday cookies!!!!

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know Christmas is still a few weeks away yet, but I’ve got cookies on the mind nonetheless. Holiday parties and cookie swaps usually start well before Christmas day, so it seems that the day the calendar flips over to December, holiday cookies are fair game.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m not here today to share a holiday cookie recipe though. I’ve been thinking about my baby dogs a lot lately, and how they deserve to benefit from all my holiday cookie baking too. I make their wet food every month and freeze it, so they’re totally spoiled, and they do get a lot of treats in the way of fresh apples and sweet potatoes, but I’ve actually never gone to the trouble to make any homemade cookies just for them.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

That needed to change.

Given their fondness for apples and sweet potatoes, I decided to combine those flavors with a bit of parsley (for breath freshening) and some oats and brown rice flour for substance.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I bought this teeny tiny dog bone cookie cutter from work over a year ago so I’m thrilled to finally have a reason to use it!

How freaking cute are these little treats?!?!?!

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve also realized recently that I haven’t been sharing many photos of the pups here lately. If you follow me on instagram, you see plenty of them, but considering what a big part of my world they are, it’s actually pretty weird that you don’t see more of them in my posts. Today I’ll be sharing enough photos of my little girls to make up for leaving them out for so long.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I mean look at those little faces. Couldn’t you just die?

Doris, the grey one on the left, was our first. She came home with Russell less than a week after we were engaged, and it was love at first sight. He took our engagement as a sign that it was time to start a little family, and I’m so glad that he did. She’s the sweetest, cutest, most calm, loving, & loyal little pup you could ever want. She  also tends to be the stubborn one, but I’m pretty sure she gets that from me.

Betty, on the right above, was actually a wedding gift to us from Russell’s sister and her family. At our wedding she gave us and IOU for a new puppy, and shortly after we came back from our honeymoon she rescued a little puppy that needed a new home. Russell’s family is from California, so his sister fostered her for us for almost a month before we were able to fly out and get her. Betty is the playful, scrappy, protective one in the family. She’s intensely concerned with what’s going on in our backyard and cannot allow even the tiniest bird to land in our yard without letting them know that they’re on her turf. Considering they’re both the same breed, it’s shocking to me how different their personalities are.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Cute overload.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Doris and Betty are miniature schnauzers, a breed we fell in love with after doing a lot of dog sitting for friends. They’re both really small for their breed though, and we’re not sure how or why they both worked out to be the same super tiny size. The average miniature schnauzer is usually about 15 or 20 pounds, but Doris is 7 pounds, and Betty is 6. I think that Doris may have been the runt of her litter, and while Betty has AKC papers as a pure bred miniature schnauzer, I am pretty sure she was intentionally bred to be a tea-cup or toy size.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Despite their tiny size, these girls have BIG personalities, and bring a ton of joy into our lives. I hope that seeing all these pictures of someone else’s dogs, that you’ve never met, hasn’t caused too much eye rolling. They’re a major part of my life, so you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Hopefully though, you’re enjoying every second of it.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you have a dog at home that deserves just as much love and special treatment as my little girls do, these treats are sure to please. I tried them myself, because I’m weird like that, and by people standards they’re a little bland, but Doris and Betty LOVE them. They love sweet potato and apples already though, so if your dogs don’t I can’t guarantee the same results.

If baked until completely dry and crisp, these treats should keep for a month or more in an airtight container. They’ll make perfectly adorable holiday gifts and stocking stuffers, so if you’re as crazy about what you feed your dog(s) as I am, these are a great gift idea! I used a tiny (1 inch) dog bone cutter and got over 150 treats out of the recipe, but I have tiny dogs so a little goes a long way. If you have a bigger dog and use a larger cutter you’ll get a lot less out of your batch.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Sweet Potato and Apple Dog Treats

  • Servings: depends on size, a 1-inch cutter produced over 150 treats
  • Print
1 large sweet potato (or 1 cup sweet potato puree)
1 large firm apple (I used braeburn)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups whole grain brown rice flour

Preheat your oven to 400F. Slice the tips off the ends of your sweet potato, and cut the potato into 4 quarters (leaving the skin on). Wrap the sweet potato in aluminum foil and roast on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Let cool a bit before handling. Reduce oven to 350F.

Puree the cooled sweet potato in the bowl of a food processor. You want about 1 cup of puree. Peel and core the apple and process, along with the parsley, until finely chopped and well combined. Pulse in the egg and pinch of salt to combine. Add the brown rice flour a oats and pulse pulse pulse until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.

Roll out to about 1/4″ thickness on a well floured (using more brown rice flour, not wheat flour) surface, with plenty of rice flour on the rolling pin and your hands. The dough will be sticky but workable. You may want to keep a little bowl of the rice flour to the side to dip your cookie cutter in every now and again.

Cut out with desired cookie cutter in any shape or size you like. The smaller the cutter, the more treats you’ll get out of this recipe. Line up the treats on 2 parchment lined baking sheets. They can be spaced pretty close together (but not touching) as they won’t spread much (if at all). Bake at 350F for about 20 or 30 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp. Larger shapes may take longer to bake. If you’re going to try to keep them for more than a few days though, it really is important that they’re completely dried out.

Store for up to a month in a cool, dry place, in an air-tight container.  

homemade dog food

If you haven’t noticed already, Russell and I really love our dogs.
And they love each other too! This is Doris on the left, and Betty giving her a kiss on the right.

homemade dog food | Brooklyn Homemaker

Since we’re young and both have full-time jobs, children are not something we see happening anytime in the immediate future. And hey, who needs diapers and vomit and crying and bad report cards when we have Doris and Betty?

Make no bones about it (pun absolutely intended), these dogs are spoiled. Their biggest daily challenge is deciding where to nap while we’re at work. They have free run of the house and yard, their treat jar has become a part of our decor, and they have more toys than some children. They even have their own toy box. I wish I could train them to put their toys away, but Betty would prefer that her toys are spread evenly throughout the apartment. When I tidy up she usually disapproves and goes back into the box to return two or three things to where she intended them.

homemade dog food | Brooklyn Homemaker

Doris was our first and she’ll always have a super special place in my heart for that reason. When we took this apartment we knew a pup was in our future but didn’t know when it would actually happen. We talked about it endlessly, discussing which breeds we liked best and thinking up potential names. We did a lot of dog sitting for friends to help get us ready and help us decide which breeds we liked best, and we fell completely in love with our friend’s adorable mini schnauzer, Belle.

One day as I was walking up to the apartment after work, I got a call from Russell. He said he’d found our dog and he was bringing her home with him right away. At first I was kind of annoyed that he’d fallen in love with a dog without my meeting her first, but as soon as they got home I knew he’d done the right thing. We’d just gotten engaged a few days earlier, and Doris was the best engagement present I ever could have received.

At just about seven pounds, Doris is much smaller than most miniature schnauzers. We’re so used to her size now that when we see other schnauzers they look gigantic to us! She’s perfectly laid back and relaxed and is a total little snuggle machine. She’s never happier than when curled up in one of our laps watching television. She absolutely loves to give us kisses, and if we let her she would just sit and lick our faces for hours on end. She’s also very quiet for her breed, and barely ever barks, though sometimes she does  talk to us in a funny low grumble to get our attention. Once you get her outside her personality changes a bit, and she loves to run and jump and play. She’s super fast and we often have people at the dog park tell us they can’t believe how she keeps up with dogs five times her size.

homemade dog food | Brooklyn Homemaker

About a year after Doris came to live with us, we started wondering if she gets lonely while we’re at work. The more we discussed it, the more certain we were that we wanted to add another pup to our little family. We had a wedding coming up though so not only was money tight, but we had a lot on our plates and training and caring for a new little dog was out of the question. We agreed to start the search when we returned from our honeymoon, but as a wedding gift, Russell’s sister Shannon and her family gave us an IOU for a puppy!

Once again, best gift ever. Thank you guys!

The only issue was that Shannon lives in California, and we’re here in Brooklyn. We thought about finding a dog in our area and asking Shannon to help pay for the adoption, but before we knew it, she found a beautiful little schnauzer in need of a new home. She lived with a very nice family near Shannon who needed to give her up because of a family emergency.  She was still a puppy, but the family had her completely house trained already! Score! To our surprise, Betty is even smaller than Doris, weighing in at just under six pounds!  Shannon has dogs of her own, and loves having animals in the house so she fostered Betty for us until Russell and I were able to fly out and get her. She was such a good girl on the plane home and just sat quietly with Russell the whole time. There was a little bit of jealousy between Doris and Betty at first, but now they love each other completely, and they’re totally inseparable.

Though they’re so close in size, Betty has a very different personality from Doris. Betty is an adorable little ball of energy, and spends half her day running back and forth between the living room and our bedroom window. She loves to sit in the window and stare out at the yard, keeping it safe from intruders. If a bird lands in the yard or a cat jumps the fence, Betty will loudly tell them they’re not welcome and come tell us we need to let her out to take care of business. She has a voice and she’s not afraid to use it, especially when she’s keeping us safe from the threat of a few sparrows grazing in our yard. She loves to play with her sister and they chase each other around the house and play tug of war constantly. When Doris needs a nap break, Betty keeps herself entertained by carrying her toys around in her mouth, or by chewing on deer antlers and nyla-bones for hours. She thinks of me and Russell as her personal jungle gyms, but she also loves to snuggle just as much as Doris. She isn’t as much of a kisser as Doris, but she does the most adorable thing to show her love by putting her little paw up and touching your face.

homemade dog food | Brooklyn Homemaker

Since these two girls are so important to us, I make them their own homemade food. We’re totally those neurotic dog parents.

The thing is, medical expenses add up, even when it comes to animals. We’re going to do anything we can do to help make sure our dogs stay happy and healthy. These little dogs eat better and healthier than Russell and I do, and I like to think of it as preventative medicine.

When it comes to feeding dogs, you have to be careful what you give them. Certain foods are definitely not good for dogs, and many foods that are fine for humans can be toxic to animals. You should never ever feed dogs any grapes or raisins, onions or garlic, chocolate, or alcohol of any kind. All of these foods can be toxic to dogs and can be very damaging to their health. Raw yeast dough can also be very dangerous, so be careful not to feed your pups any raw scraps when baking bread.

Foods that are beneficial for dogs include sweet potatoes, blueberries, carrots, pumpkin, green beans, and leafy greens. It’s great to feed your dogs a variety of vegetables so they get different vitamins and nutrients from a few sources. Apples make a great healthy treat, but you have to be careful to remove the seeds, which contain cyanide. Lean meats, eggs, peanut butter, salmon, and unsweetened plain yogurt are great sources of protein.  Cooked unsweetend oatmeal is a perfect source of soluble fiber and is a nice grain alternative for dogs with wheat allergies. If you’re not sure if certain foods are okay for dogs, the internet is a wealth of knowledge, so google away before feeding your dog a food they’ve never had before.

homemade dog food | Brooklyn Homemaker

I especially like to use lean meats and a variety of vegetables and greens. My family is big on hunting, so I’m lucky enough to have a source for free venison that I love to use for Doris and Betty’s food. Venison is super lean, and since the deer came from the wild instead of a factory farm, I know they ate a natural diet and weren’t fed antibiotics and hormones and all that nasty stuff. When I run out of venison I usually use lean ground beef or turkey. I also throw in chicken hearts and livers for added vitamins and goodness. Brown rice and oats add nice body and fiber to the food and help keep it moist.

I basically like to cut everything up in big rough pieces and throw it into a big pot with some water. I bring it all to a boil and simmer it long enough to cook the brown rice. Once it’s all cooked I puree it in a food processor in batches, mix it all back together, and divide it up into freezer safe containers to store in the freezer.

If you want to make this for your dogs, you’ll need a food processor or food mill and a very large stockpot. It’s not at all difficult, and depending on how much your dog eats, one batch can last more than month in the freezer. For some reason, the texture of this food improves after freezing. After it’s pureed it’s basically just paste, but once it’s frozen and thawed it firms up and is easily pulled apart with a fork.  For our girls, we feed them about an 1/8th of a cup of this food mixed with an 1/8th of a cup of dry kibble, and they are fed twice a day.

homemade dog food | Brooklyn Homemaker

Homemade Wet Dog Food

  • Servings: depends on your dog(s), this will feed our 2 small dogs for about a month
  • Print
4 lbs lean meat, like beef, turkey, or venison
1 1/2 lbs chicken hearts and/or livers
2 lbs braising greens, like kale, spinach, chard, or collards
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (approximately 3)
1 lb apples (approximately 3)
1/2 lb carrots (approximately 3)
1 cup brown rice
1 cup oats (steel cut or rolled)
3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil (or flax oil)

Wash and dry all of your vegetables and fruit. Tear the leaves of your greens off the rough stems and place into a large heavy bottom stock pot (at least 8qts). Cut ends off and roughly chop carrots and sweet potatoes. Add to pot. Quarter and core apples and add to pot along with rice, oats & water. Stir contents of pot. If not already cut up or ground, cut your lean meat into large pieces and add to pot. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add chicken hearts and livers and cook 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool enough that you can handle it. Add oil and mix well.
Puree mixture in batches in a food processor. After each batch is completely pureed, add to a large bowl. When entire recipe has been pureed, mix well and divide into freezer safe containers. Before serving, thaw completely.