Homemade Dog Treats


Homemade dog treats

Finding Zeus


“Suddenly he knew joy and sorrow felted into one fabric. Courage and fear were one thing too.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck


Like so many of my neighborhood adventures, it began on my morning walk. With a bag of foraged lemons nestled over my shoulder I found myself smiling at a large black dog across the street from me. The woman with him acknowledged me and we both kept walking. At one point, she thought I had spoken to her and she invited me over to meet the dog. I started to learn about Zeus. He was a Chow-Chow, four months post-rescue from the local animal shelter. He had been surrendered to be euthanized. Covered in sores and malnourished, Zeus had been living in the dirt under a shed for all of his ten years. Denice told me he was adoptable through Animal Friends Rescue Project. She was a volunteer in the program and Zeus was the 21st dog she was rehabilitating. I returned home and went about my day. Only later did I find Zeus on the AFRP website and emailed his photo to Mr. R and picky daughter.

Adopt Me

I didn’t see Zeus and Denice on my morning walk again, but I thought about them. Days passed and Mr R would ask me about Zeus. I have always claimed to be a cat person, but Zeus was different. Mellow, wiser, grateful, still with a commanding presence. I liked that after all he had been though he was able to find a joy filled life. So much inspiration and kindness from an old man. Just about everyone I asked about Zeus tried to gently dissuade me. He was old, Chows have a terrible reputation as pets, although he was ten he had only four months of socialization and training. Because of the medical care he required he had been shaved and his fur was only starting to grow back. It was uncertain how the fur would grow back, especially the areas where the wounds had healed. When Mr R nudged me to contact AFRP before someone else adopted him, I knew it was time to meet Zeus again. Denice brought Zeus to our house and he stayed with us that weekend. He’s been with us ever since.

Zeus outside

Having a sixty pound dog as a pet is so different from a cat. Dogs require more attention, grooming, space, and time. I’ve traded purrs for the wagging of a scraggly curled tail and couldn’t be happier. Zeus looks like a little bear, so that is one of his nicknames. We also call him Zeusy just like Denice does and recently I have started calling him Zeuser. The Zeus Project is still new and more nicknames are sure to unfold. His fur is growing back, shiny and black. Zeus is a gentle giant. Scared of kitchen noises, he escapes to the dining room when the timer buzzes or the microwave beeps. But if the doorbell rings he’s in his prime, barking like the ferocious beast one might expect. My morning walk has transformed into a stroll for Zeus. Trees and bushes must be sniffed and explored. I wait for him, I want him to have fun. Being with Zeus in public is such an adventure. People who have been around Chows or other big dogs are friendly but most people are scared of Zeus and keep their distance. I don’t try to change their opinion. Either a person knows every animal is unique and has its’ own personally or not.

Zeus resting

I want to thank Denice for introducing me to Zeus and choosing our family for his home. The work she does with AFRP rehabilitating dogs medically and behaviorally is extraordinary. Her kind and gentle heart healed Zeus’ emotional and physical wounds from a lifetime of neglect and abuse. The rescue of Zeus is a testament to her commitment and unwavering faith in the possibility that there is good in every animal no matter its’ age, its’ emotional pain or disability. Since Denice lives in the neighborhood, we visit. I know Zeus remembers Denice as he pouts after seeing her, staying in the living room gazing out the window rather than being by my side. Zeus will just have to get used to having two moms who care about him. Denice has offered to dog sit Zeus, as she doesn’t want him to be alone ever again. That’s pretty darn wonderful for both Zeus and our family!


Zeus has mild allergies of undetermined origins, either food or environmental, or even both. Our vet told us that allergies in pets are as common as in humans. Who knew? To help combat his allergies we have continued the grain free, gluten free diet Denice was feeding Zeus. Many of the dog treat recipes I found included wheat or corn flour which I wanted to avoid in making treats for Zeus. I added flax meal to the treats for an added boost of nutrition. Bob’s Red Mill graciously shared their Gluten Free Flour for recipe testing. The flour was a pleasure to bake with and made some tasty Zeus approved dog treats.

Making dog treats

1/2C oatmeal, gluten free
2C gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2C flax meal
1/2t cinnamon
1C pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/4C peanut butter

Zeus letters

  1. In the bowl of a food processor pulse the oatmeal a few times until half of the flakes remain and the balance has turned into flour. Add the gluten free flour, flax meal and cinnamon. Pulse just to combine. Add the pumpkin, egg and peanut butter. Then pulse in intervals to mix the dough. Stop between pulses and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Take care not to overwork the food processor or the dough.
  2. Heat the oven to 300°. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and knead a few times to bring the dough together. Roll out the dough with a flour dusted rolling pin. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters that have been dipped in flour. The dog treats can be either thick or thin, large or small. Place the cut out treats on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until crisp and dry, turning and checking the treats every 10 minutes. Baking time varies depending on the size and thickness of the treats. The littlest treats took 20 minutes to bake while the largest took almost 40 minutes. The treats in my oven’s hot spot baked much faster than the rest of the batch.

Zeus stamps

Zeus dog treats

Zeus with dog treats

Bob’s Red Mill graciously shared their Gluten Free Flour with me. This is not a sponsored post; the recipe and opinions are my own.

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40 Responses to Homemade Dog Treats

  1. Carol Sacks says:

    What a sweet, sweet story, Deb! Your Zeus is handsome and winsome. Love the photos, too. Enjoy!!

  2. What a gorgeous dog! He looks like a lion-bear. How lucky for all of you.

  3. AFRP does a great job…and so do you! He is aging at a loving home, far from abuses. Only a kind heart like yours could take time to make cookies for a pet. He looks adorable!

    • Deb says:

      Oh Denise, what a lovely comment! Zeus brightens our days and we are more than willing to share a few healthy treats with him.

  4. Zeus is too cute and those treats look worthy to be sold at Diggidy Dog, the Carmel pet boutique!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the delightful comment Laura! I know exactly where the Diggidy Dog is in Carmel! I’m sure I could find something Zeus would love there, LOL.

  5. I have grown to love Zeus in these few paragraphs. He looks a bit like a lion, especially in that photo right above ‘Essentials’. His treats sound good enough for this human. I have that cutter set – have only used them once though. I found the lettering, once baked, didn’t remain as crisp as yours :(. Beautiful post, Deborah!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the lovely comment Jacquee! I will admit the treats smelled wonderful while they were baking, pumpkin and just a hit of cinnamon is enticing. I took a chance with the cookie cutters and was happy with the outcome!

  6. I am so thrilled for you – what a gorgeous mature pup :-). I bet my young senior cockapoo Scooby would warm up to him nicely. What a treasure you and your family are for taking him in. And what a wonder of a dog he must be to be gentle after having such a hard life. Wow!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the gracious comment Beth! It is indeed quite amazing that Zeus is so sweet after so many years of abuse and neglect. He is a gentle soul!

  7. Denice says:

    This is an incredible story, even better when you tell it! Tears stream down my face as I reflect on your family’s kindness in giving this old wonderful Zeus a forever home. I will be baking these treats for future fosters and Zeus when he visits. Thank you for bringing attention to rescue animals and being an inspiration to all of us! Love the big beautiful Zeuser pictures!!!

    • Deb says:

      Denice, your lovely comment warmed my heart! Zeus brings joy into our home and has already taught us so much. We can’t imagine life without him! Thank you again for choosing our family for his home and the love and care you you showered on him when he was in such great need.

  8. Deb, Zeus is adorable. I agree with Jacquee above who thinks he resembles a lion. What a beautiful story of rescue and found love. I applaud Denice for the work she does. As for the doggy treats, I know my little man would love them. I’ve never made homemade treats for him (shame on me) but that is going to change.

    • Deb says:

      Such a warm comment Mary, thank you! Zeuser is resting by my feet, waiting for our day to begin. He is so grateful to be part of the family!

  9. Cathy says:

    Such a lovely story – so glad you have found each other! He looks a real sweetie and is lucky to have such a great Mum who bakes for him! Those cookies sound great – I’d love to make something like that, but one of our doggies has so many allergies it would be tricky. Enjoy your time with him!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the lovely comment Cathy! If you develop a dog treat recipe suited to your dogs diet I would love to give it a try.

  10. Gerlinde says:

    What a beautiful story. I had a chow chow when I was a child living on a farm in Germany. I loved that dog, every day he waited for me at the gate when I returned from school. My dog Bobby was not black but he had the blue tongue .

  11. What a lovely story and Zeus is so cute! Those doggy treats are beautifully presented and such a fun idea. The name tags are a nice touch as well. J+C

  12. shannon says:

    oh my goodness I LOVE ZEUS! He’s adorable, Deb: so precious, and i agree, chows always seem to have a very regal presence. He’s fabulous, and very worthy of homemade dog treats, i’m sure.

  13. He’s really a beautiful dog, Deb. And just to think, after a decade of crummy luck, he found you! All of his remaining days will be joyful 🙂

  14. Deb – I love this story. Zeus is such a handsome boy, and blessed to be welcomed into your loving family. These dog cookies are wonderful! My aging dog also has allergies, so I bet these would be just the treat for her. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Valentina says:

    I love him! Zeus is so sweet looking. This is a truly special story, and special addition to your family. My dog is salivating over my shoulder looking at the homemade dog treats. 😉 We’ll try them for sure.

  16. Zeus is such a cutie, Deb! You’re so sweet for giving him home (and baking treats for him). You have a huge heart!

  17. Patty says:

    Deb-this is a sweet story and love all your creative photos!
    Zeus is one lucky dog to enjoy your homemade treats 😉
    I hope you are staying cool this week 😉

    • Deb says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment Patty! Zeus and I have been taking our morning walk much earlier to stay cool! We are the fog dwellers!

  18. Chow chow looks like a lion,,, the red chow chow i say on yahoo news cost like 2 million dollars…

  19. He looks very healthy and happy now! Lucky Zeus to find such a nice new home to call his own. And, he must love those cute treats!

  20. Tera says:

    Love the story of Zeus. It’s so nice that he’s in a loving home after so many years of neglect. Thanks for sharing.

    These treats sound and look delicious, I may have to try one too. 🙂 I love the fact that they’re grain and gluten free. I also really like the way to decorated them with the letter shaped stamps, it gives them so much more style.

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