Holiday treats for your four-legged friends

These treats are dog (and horse) tested and approved. Check out the video.

These doggy treats were a hit around the office. — Danielle Zerbonne

We’ve all got plenty of stuff. Too much, really. Be honest, how many sweaters does your dog have? It’s a fun way to express our affection, but come gift-giving season it can feel suffocating to think about buying (and receiving) ever more STUFF. The holiday pressure’s so strong you may even feel obligated to get gifts for the animals in your life. This year, consider spreading holiday joy with some edible treats.  It’s thoughtful, inexpensive, and a excellent way to use up the dregs of peanut butter and old cans of pumpkin in the back of your pantry. They’ll never taste the difference! (To be clear, we’re still talking about dogs here.)

Sometimes, lingering in the dog treat aisle in front of a $21 bag of artisan milkbones, I flash back to my dog Mookie, blissfully chewing a shriveled orange peel he’d dug out of the gravel driveway. His wasn’t the refined palate I prefer in a taste tester, but at least he’d be a perfectly eager volunteer.

A glance at the back of my cupboard and a quick online search led me to a pumpkin, peanut butter, and bacon combo. I didn’t have a dog-bone-shaped cookie cutter, but as it turns out, I did have one in the shape of a foot. One of my dogs is a bit of a foot gnawer, so that seemed like a reasonable substitute.

With no reliable judge at home, I would never truly know if these treats were gift-worthy for my four-legged friends. So, I decided to try a taste test with canine pals throughout The Times office — a notoriously persnickety group.

I tried my hand at horse treats, too, mixing together grated carrot and apple, molasses, applesauce, salt, oatmeal, and crumbled peppermint sticks, and baked them in a mini muffin tin.  They didn’t come out looking particularly gift-worthy so I’ll spare you the exact recipe, but if you check out the video above (make sure to turn the sound on!) you’ll see that the horses still found them snack worthy. A quick online search for both dog and horse treats will deliver you a multitude of recipes.  

Holiday Doggy Treats

2½ cups wheat flour
4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
Bacon grease
½ can pumpkin
¾ cup peanut butter
Two eggs
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients together into a dough that you can flatten with a rolling pin. Play with the ratios to get the consistency you want. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper, and use your favorite cookie cutters. They probably taste the same if you just plop dough balls by the tablespoon, if you don’t have time to be fancy. Bake at 350° for about half an hour. Makes about 30 treats.