Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baby food + Cream of Wheat + powdered milk = happy dog!

Before I recount my adventures in baking for my pets, I wanted to mention a few more ideas about saving on pet needs.
Pet insurance is available. It is traditional-style insurance, where you pay upfront and get reimbursed after submitting claims. According to what I've read, it sounds like it's not likely to save you money. If you are interested in more information, check out
An option I think is definitely worth it is investing in the pet first aid course offered by the Red Cross. You'll have to check with your local chapter to see if they offer the class and when. It costs about $35. You'll learn to check capillary refill time, how to check for dehydration, dog/cat CPR and lots of other things that can help you be prepared should your pet show signs of illness or injury.
Now, to the kitchen!
My goal was to make something that would hopefully be healthful and inexpensive. I didn't want to make crunchy biscuits. There are lots of healthful dog biscuits out there. I wanted something that was sort of chewy, as well as easy that would keep well. The recipe I settled on had just 3 ingredients: 3 jars of meat-flavored baby food, 1/4 cup Cream of Wheat, 1/4 cup of powdered milk. I started with 2 jars of beef Gerber and 1 chicken and vegetables.

The reviews of the recipe indicated that the dough would probably need more dry ingredients, and they were right. So I added more CoW and dry milk. I also added whole wheat flour and some oatmeal. The dough still sticky and was not such that I could roll it into balls.
So, I pulled out the trusted cookie scooper and plopped scoops onto sil-pat on cookie sheets.  (The recipe technically calls for "generously greased cookie sheets.") This method worked fine. I attempted to "flatten slightly with fork" but the dough's consistency meant my attempts more smeared and smooshed than "flattened slightly."
I baked them for about 15 minutes, till the treats started to brown. Then I removed them from the oven, letting them cool on the cookie sheets.
Once cooled, they were presented to the in-house taste-tester. He seemed to approve!
As far as health benefits are concerned, these likely beat, say, the Snausages or Tiny T-Bones ingredient-wise. However, baby food isn't cheap. And this recipe made only about 20 1.5-inch round treats (which should be refrigerated and/or frozen.) So, the savings would likely be more long-range health benefits than a short-term cash saving.

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