These Vegan Dog Treat Recipes Will Help Your Pup Lose Weight
We’re all big fans of fluffy dogs, but be honest… Is your dog’s extra fluff due to his fur, or is he actually on his way to being overweight? Obesity is a common issue with today’s dogs, and according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 56% of dogs are either overweight or obese. That’s a lot of “fluffy” dogs at risk of potentially preventable health conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and heart failure.
Part of the problem is that our dogs aren’t getting as much exercise as they really need, but even more than that, obesity in dogs is usually due to over-treating. It’s easy to understand why. Your dog turns on the charm and hits you with those adorable puppy dog eyes, and you have no choice but to toss him a treat. His apparent mind control, however, is seriously affecting his health (in a bad way). But you don’t have to stop giving your dog treats to help him become healthier—you just have to change the kind of treats you give him. Healthy vegan dog treats are great for dogs needing to shed a few pounds. If you’ve never heard of vegan dog treats before, here’s what you need to know.
Why Veganism Can Help Dogs Lose Weight
The reason why giving your dog a lot of treats is a dangerous game is that most dog treats you find in the store are high in fat, sugar, preservatives, and carbs. All of these things contribute to weight gain, and eating these kinds of treats on a regular basis is bound to affect your dog’s body type.
Vegan dog treats are a healthier alternative because they’re made from fruits and vegetables that are packed with valuable nutrition and not a lot of fat or excess sugar. It’s the same concept humans use when deciding what to snack on.
You can go for the delicious beef jerky that’s full of saturated fat and sugar (depending on the flavor), or you could choose a bag of baby carrots, an apple, or some celery stalks with peanut butter. It’s pretty obvious which option will be best for your waistline.
Dogs are Carnivores, but Actually, They’re Omnivores
If you look it up, you’ll find that dogs—or Canis Lupus Familiaris as our science friends like to say—are classified as terrestrial carnivores. And just as you remember from elementary biology, carnivores are species that survive by eating meat. This explains why your dog’s eyes get all big and shiny watching you cut into a juicy steak.
The issue is that during the centuries of being man’s best friend, dogs have adapted in ways that allow them to process both animal material and plant material. For example, dogs lack a key characteristic of true carnivores. Because meat is easier to digest than plant material, carnivores have relatively short intestinal tracts. Herbivores, who need more time to digest their plant-based food, have long intestines. Dogs have neither short nor long intestines. Their intestinal length is somewhere in the middle, which suggests they’re omnivores and can survive on both meat and plants.
Another clue into the mystery of whether dogs should be considered carnivores or omnivores is a dog’s natural ability to digest starch and glucose. Carnivores don’t have this, and the three genes that give dogs this power suggest the species is genetically adapted to eating grains and vegetation. Even with these biological points, science still can’t give us a straight answer as to whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores. But no matter what you want to call them, it’s clear that dogs are perfectly capable of digesting plants.
The Trick to Vegan Treating
The debate on whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores has been going strong for generations, and there’s no clear winner. Dr. Jennifer Coates with PetMD says dogs are capable of getting all the nutrients they need from completely vegan diets (as long as it’s done right). The trick is making sure they get enough protein. But even if you’re completely against dogs being vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to remember that dog treats are never intended to be a dog’s lone source of nutrition.
You can still give your dog the benefit of vegan dog treats while feeding them a healthy non-vegan meal. The goal is to reduce the amount of unnecessary fat and sugar your dog consumes on a daily basis, and switching to vegan dog treats is a great way to do that.
Try These Homemade Vegan Dog Treat Recipes
Naked Dog Bistro makes healthy vegan dog treats that dogs have proven to love. They’re perfect for dogs that need to lose weight. You also have the option of making your dog’s treats right in your kitchen. Here are a few easy-to-make vegan dog treat recipes that will help your dog maintain a healthy weight.
Low-Fat Carrot Dog Treats
Carrots are rich in Vitamin A while also being low in fat and calories. Most dogs will happily chomp on a carrot as a treat, and with this recipe from Dog Treat Kitchen, their vegan dog treats will taste just like a yummy cookie.
- 1 medium ripe banana
- 1 cup shredded carrots (see note below)
- 1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
- 1/8 cup water (you may need to add an additional 1/8 cup water)
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
- Mash the ripe banana in a small bowl and add in grated carrots.
- Add the applesauce and water and mix well.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and oats.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the carrot mixture.
- Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Knead the dough in the bowl with your hands.
- Fold-out onto a floured surface and continue to knead until a dough has formed.
- Roll out to 1/2-inch thickness.
- Cut out into 3-inch pieces or use a cookie cutter.
- Place the cut-outs on a greased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Banana Flaxseed Vegan Dog Treats
Everyone knows bananas are a healthy choice, but flaxseed is one of those nutritious ingredients that tend to fly under the radar. It’s packed full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and research even says flaxseed oil can reduce the risk of cancer, heal inflammation, and improve digestive health. Test out this recipe using bananas and flaxseed from Healthy Slow Cooking.
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 1 cup rolled oats or Irish oats, which are stone-ground
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 large banana mashed
- 1/4 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the flaxseed, oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.
- Add in the coconut oil and banana. Add 1/4 cup water and mix more.
- Spoon out a small amount of the dough and place on parchment paper. Use the spoon to flatten the dough into a cookie shape. Repeat until you use up all the dough.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Dog Treats
If your dog is prone to tummy troubles along with being overweight, pumpkin is a good choice for him. Pumpkin is high in fiber and can help dogs find relief from diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. The peanut butter in these vegan dog treats from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken adds both protein and a flavor most dogs go crazy for.
- 1 cup oats (old fashioned, 1-minute oats, or instant), plus more if needed- see instructions
- 1/3 cup pumpkin pureé (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Grind the oats in a food processor until they are a fine powder. Add in the pumpkin and peanut butter and blend.
- Remove from the processor and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies using a knife or cookie cutter.
- Lay the treats on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.