Pet treats

Sunday night is pizza night for us. Just about every Sunday we head for our neighborhood pizzeria for what we consider the best pizza in town.

We’re on friendly terms with the staff there, so I was a bit taken aback just before Christmas when an employee approached us, waving a long-handled, two-tined fork. He took exception to my column on dog treats because I didn’t mention pizza.

I did remind him that it was a column based on Christmas dinner. I assured him that whenever we had pizza at home, the dogs always got a piece of the crust. He still wasn’t happy, but at least he didn’t stab me.

Depending on what you have on your pizza, a tiny piece for your dog is probably fine. I would worry about how spicy the sauce was, and I wouldn’t recommend pepperoni, hot sausage, peppers or onions. Olives are fine, but speaking for my corgis, they aren’t too fond of them. That’s why my dogs just get a bit of plain crust, rather than any of the toppings.

If I were making a pizza for my dogs, which I don’t think will ever happen, I would choose a thin, whole-wheat crust, plain tomato sauce with no spices, and a topping of lean ground beef, turkey, chicken or lamb. If you start with a ready-made crust from the supermarket, this would be relatively easy.

I think the above pizza would be easier than the lasagna for dogs recipe I found in “The Best Fed Dog in America,” by Ellen Gross. It calls for a pound of lean ground beef, a can of dog food, lasagna noodles, a carton of cottage cheese and a can of “no salt added” tomatoes. You layer the ingredients just as with lasagna for humans and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Biscuits might be easier to make. Gael’s breeder sent the dogs some homemade pumpkin biscuits for the holidays. The recipe she sent me says it makes 75 small biscuits or 50 large ones, so at least you’d have a good supply of biscuits once you were through. They’re made with 2 eggs, half a cup of pumpkin, 2 tablespoons dry milk, teaspoon salt and 2 cups brown rice flour. She uses brown rice flour because many dogs are allergic to wheat. If your dog is fine with wheat, you could, I think, use regular flour.

Mix the wet ingredients, add milk and salt and then stir in the flour. Roll the dough to between – and -inch think, cut out the biscuits, and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the biscuits over and bake another 20 minutes.

Here’s an easier biscuit recipe from “Best Fed Dog”: 1 cup whole wheat flour, teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons salad oil, 1 cup natural oats, 1 egg, beaten, cup hot water, 1 package yeast, prepared according to package directions. Mix ingredients in order, and spoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 12.

If you have a cat, there are great recipes out there for them, too. “Cat Treats” by Kim Campbell Thornton and Jane Galloway offers this crunchy treat that will also help freshen your cat’s breath. 2 cups brown rice flour, 1 tablespoon activated charcoal (find at a drugstore), 1 large egg, beaten, 3 tablespoons salad oil, cup chopped parsley, 1/3 cup chopped mint, 2/3 cup milk. Mix flour and charcoal separately, then add to a mix of the other ingredients, minus the milk. Add enough milk to make the dough the consistency of drop biscuits. Drop dough onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Is it your cat’s birthday? Make a cake with 1 pound ground turkey, 1 egg, cup oatmeal, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, cup minced parsley. Mix and mold into cake shape (or fish or bird, if you’re creative). Bake on a rack over a cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and frost with nonfat cream cheese.

Of course, all of this sounds a lot like cooking to me. If I’m going to all that effort, I want to be able to eat it myself. The stores are loaded with all kinds of healthy, organic, preservative-free treats for both cats and dogs, available with far less muss and fuss. Or, the next time you have pizza, save the crusts for the dog.