By Josh Weiss-Roessler

Most dog lovers don’t want to leave their best friend out of the holiday gift-giving, but what if your pooch just isn’t into chew toys, balls, or (heaven forbid) that nice, cozy sweater you knit for him? The truth is that dogs, like humans, have different tastes, and many playful gifts might not get the reaction you were hoping for.

There is one thing almost all dogs are happy to sit up and beg for though: treats. Want to make your pal’s holiday a happy occasion (and get to enjoy their excitement for something you’ve done)? Whip up some treats using foods that they love from the season. You can even get creative with some holiday touches!

Use themed cookie cutters. One of the easiest ways to turn homemade treats into holiday favorites is to buy some themed cookie cutters. You might already have some that you use for human baking needs (Christmas trees, stars, wreaths, Santas, snowmen – the list goes on and on). It’s completely fine to use those for your dogs as long as you clean them well, but no one will judge you for getting a separate set just for your four-legged family members.

Hang them with care. Want to take it a step further? Before you bake your treats, make a hole at the top of the dough in each one. Once they’re all cooked, you can put a ribbon through the holes to create ornaments that can be hung on your tree. Just be sure to hang them high enough that your pup can’t get to them!

Consider adding color. Food coloring that’s safe for human use is safe for your dog in small doses, so you can make things like bone-shaped treats more festive by coloring them red, green, or blue for the season. However, be aware that some dogs are allergic, so if you have any concerns, this may be a holiday touch to skip.

Wrap them, but keep them out of reach. Don’t make the mistake of placing these gifts under the tree before its time to open them. Your dog will sniff out and spoil the surprise in no time. If you give them as a gift to a loved one’s pup, make sure to let them know what’s inside the box, so they don’t encounter the same problem.

Holiday dog treat recipes

Doggy-nog recipe

Traditional eggnog isn’t safe for dogs, but with some clever changes, they can enjoy this holiday treat alongside you. (Note: You probably won’t like it, though.)

  • 16 ounces (454 g) of plain, organic yogurt (low fat)
  • 1 chicken breast (boiled, unseasoned)
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) of green beans
  • 1/4 cup (113 g) of carrots
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sweet potatoes (steamed) or pumpkin puree (plain)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 (355 ml) cups water

Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend until it’s completely smooth and frothy. Then pour into bowls and serve!

Gingerbread Dog Cookies

  • 3 cups (360 g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (0.3 g) ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp (0.15 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (0.1 g) ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) molasses
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) canola oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 325° F (163° C.)
  2. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves together. In a separate bowl, combine the molasses, water, and oil.
  3. Pour the molasses mix into the flour, and stir until well combined.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/2 inch (13 mm) thick.
  5. Cut the dough into holiday or dog-related shapes using cookie cutters.
  6. Use non-stick cooking spray to lightly cover a baking sheet.
  7. Put your cut-out dough on the sheet, spacing cookies about 1/2 inch (13 mm) apart.
  8. Let them bake 20 minutes, then cool them on a wire rack and serve!

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