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Healthy Dog Treats for Dogs with a Food Allergy

My senior golden retriever had food allergies that made it hard to find dog treats that she could eat without skin or digestion problems. I learned about healthy dog treats from her allergy problems.

My dog with food allergies

My dog with food allergies

My Dog has Food Allergies (Wheat, Mostly)

My senior golden retriever (that's Cinderella in the photo - pretty cute, eh?) always had a problem with food allergies that restricted her diet and made it hard to find dog treats that she could tolerate. She's gone now, but I learned a lot about healthy dog treats in the years of feeding around her allergies.

What are the best biscuits for a dog with allergies? Here's what we learned: Many dog treats contain ingredients that caused itchy skin, watery eyes, diarrhea and other problems for her digestion - just as even a low-grade allergy can make life very uncomfortable for people, even if it's not severe.

Cinderella's biggest food problem was a wheat allergy, but that's just the beginning of it. Whenever she ate any dog treats or dog food with wheat or wheat flour as an ingredient, her paws got very itchy so she licked at her paws obsessively. Also, it was almost certain that she'd get an ear infection after eating food that triggered her allergies - not to mention the unpleasant effects on her digestive system!

So, needless to say I learned to be very careful about treating the old pup.

Food is one of the great joys of life for most dogs, however, and I couldn't look into those loving brown eyes without giving my old sweetie one of the treats she so loved. Lucky for both of us, over the years I've tracked down a number of good healthy treats that work well for the delicate digestive system of an old dog, even a dog with food allergies.

We {Heart} Three Dog Bakery

Three Dog Bakery goes for all-natural ingredients with no added salt, refined sugar, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. It's a healthy alternative to those mysterious no-name brands with ingredients sourced who-knows-where... but you do need to be aware, if your dog has food allergies, that not all of the Three Dog Bakery treats are grain-free, or even wheat-free. As always, we need to read the labels!

My happy dog ready for a healthy grain-free treat.

My happy dog ready for a healthy grain-free treat.

Dog Treat Poll - What is the most important to you, in choosing good treats for a dog who suffers from food allergies?

Healthy Grain-Free Meat / Fish Dog Treats - These are a few of our favorite things...

When you have a dog with food allergies, one of the first steps toward finding out what is causing the allergic reaction is to restrict the variety of foods that she's taking in, so you can start to narrow down and zoom in on which food or foods may be causing her skin irritation, digestive problems, loose stools, and other signs of allergies in your dog.

Your veterinarian will very likely suggest a specific dog food to try, usually a high-end brand that is grain-free or nearly so, and often with one protein source. I like to go for treats with a limited number of different ingredients, too, for the same reason, to help narrow down what's triggering an allergic reaction.

Here are some that Cinderella particularly enjoys, and your pup might like them as well.

Not-Messy Liver Treats Your Dog Will Love

My Recipe for Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

This is our go-to recipe for homemade treats. Usually I use beef or pork liver, but you can use chicken livers too.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb liver, raw (beef, pork, any kind of liver)
  • 1 cup rice flour, or oatmeal pulverized into flour consistency (use more if it's too runny)
  • 1 egg with the shell included
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove

Variations

Add some leftover potato or vegetables, if you like. This recipe can be varied quite widely to suit your dog's tastes, but AVOID adding sugar, salt, and corn. Sugar and salt are not healthy and not needed, while corn is a trigger for allergies for many dogs and a "filler" that is not easily digested.

Instructions

  1. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth but still quite thick.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread out the liver mixture on it.
  3. Bake in the oven at 300°F for 15-18 minutes. Don't overcook - you want the treats to be soft and rubbery, not crispy, so they've got lots of flavor - and also, if they're a bit soft, you can use them for training treats!
  4. Cut into small pieces while still warm. A rolling pizza cutter is the fastest way to cut this up.
  5. Store the liver treats in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze treats in small portions in freezer-safe baggies to pull out as you need them.

Banana-and-Something Dog Treats

Has your Food-Sensitive or Allergic Dog tried these treats?

We usually think of dog treats in terms of meat, but all of my dogs are just wild about different kinds of fruits and vegetables. (One of them even likes broccoli, believe it or not!) Pumpkin and banana are flavors that are popular with most of the dogs who've passed through my doors over the years.

Homemade Banana Chips

Easy DIY Vegetarian Treats for a Dog With Allergies

When there's a good sale on bananas, I get a couple of bunches and slice them up, then dry them very slowly in a very very low oven to make healthy dog treats.

Usually I lay the banana slices out on a cookie-cooling rack set over a baking sheet, turn the oven on to it's lowest heat, then turn it off again and leave the banana slices in overnight. If there's a lot of moisture in the air, sometimes I leave the oven light on to help them dry out.

This would be much easier with a food dehydrator, of course, but Santa Claus has not brought me one yet... and my furry roommates love those rubbery "banana chips' so much, it's well worth the small effort.

Homemade Dog Cookies - Better yet, why not bake your own dog treats?

When you have a dog with food allergies, making your own treats is quite often the best solution, to make sure you know for sure what your dog is eating. And you know what? It's much easier than you might think, to bake for your dog!

This lovely collection of dog treat recipes comes from the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company of New Jersey, which makes organic, wheat-free, soy-free, corn-free dog biscuits out of human-grade food ingredients. Good enough to eat!

You'll find a lot of dog bone cookie cutters that come in a prettier package than this plain cardboard box, but it seems quite often that the cutters don't quite live up to the gift box -- a lot of them are quite small and cheaply made. This set from R & M has a nice variety of sizes, and the quality is not bad at all. Not as robust as the old pre-WW2 metal cookie cutters that I inherited from my grandmother, but then again, what is? :)

Say "Hi" to Cinderella, the Golden Retriever who taught me about the best Healthy Treats for Dogs with Food Allergies

Cinderella's Favorite Treat-Puzzle Toys

Cinderella, like most Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and other hunting breeds of dogs, is all about the mouth. That's why her favorite dog toys are things she can carry around and chew on. And if a toy happens to give her some yummy treats while she's playing? All the better!

Tell us about your dog's favorite treats! - Do you have to keep allergies in mind when you're choosing dog treats?

QualityReviewsNow on February 14, 2014:

Making homemade doggie food and treats is great because you get to control 100% of the ingredients. Our poor boy Whiskey had a big dry skin issue along with a painful sensitive stomach. Going the homemade route really got him back on the road to health and happienss!

LoriBeninger on June 24, 2013:

What a great and thoughtful lens. I'll be trying some of these for my not-so-sensitive pups...'cause the sound sooo good!

flycatcherrr (author) on March 16, 2013:

@Gypzeerose: Homemade liver treats sure "go down a treat" with the dogs around here - hope Buckwheat likes them too!

Rose Jones on March 16, 2013:

This a really excellent lens, one that will help a lot of dogs and dog owners. I think allergies are one of the reasons that Buckwheat had so many troubles with his ears for so long until we took him to that Hoity-Toity veterinarian in Marin County who used natural methods as well as allopathic. I am going to try those liver cookies - are you kidding me? Buckwheat will go crazy. Pinned to my dogs board and lensrolled to my own lens: Adopt a Senior Pet.

Itaya Lightbourne from Topeka, KS on February 20, 2013:

I don't have a dog right now but I'm saving this for the yummy liver treats recipe! I love that it's getting easier and easier to buy food and treats for animals (we have a kitty) that don't have grains in them now. :)

flycatcherrr (author) on January 04, 2013:

@JimHofman: My dogs would like you to be their friend. :-)

JimHofman on January 04, 2013:

We make our dog friends homemade dog treats and they love them! Cheddar biscuits and peanut butter cookies are their favorites. We cut them into bone shapes as well as fire hydrants, hearts, and star shapes.

LivingLikeCrazy on August 14, 2012:

Thanks again, I really love the recipes.

malena10 on June 29, 2012:

Great lens! Many dogs and cats has alergies.

orange3 lm on March 30, 2012:

My dogs do not have food allergies but I like to buy them natural/organic food and treats.

JJNW from USA on March 20, 2012:

What sweet dogs. My dog shows up on my Squidoo lenses from time to time too! She is not allergic, but does not do well with beef. I look for chicken or lamb. Hugs to your pups!

7thStone on February 18, 2012:

Our English Bulldog has a love/hate relationship with that Tricky Treat Ball :)

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