If your family includes a dog, then you may have considered making your own treats. In observance of National Pet Month, president of a pet supplier based in the Chicago area offers suggestions on how to make the perfect treat for your pooch. Here’s how you can make your own one-ingredient treat, as well as tips on what to keep in mind before sharing your new treat with Fido and Fluffy.
(Photo by Craig Allen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Craig Allen/Getty Images)

Rob Freeman
Northshore Pet Chef

For Rob Freeman, president of Northshore Pet Chef, providing healthy treats to dogs and cats in Chicago’s North Shore is all part of the job. “My business provides healthy and fresh food treats and other products that promote enhanced health for dogs and cats,” he said. His business also carries homemade treats for dogs and cats, as well as chews, beef and venison, as well as antlers. The business also sells supplements to help joints, skin and fur. Other products available through Northshore Pet Chef include toys manufactured in the U.S. Northshore Pet Chef provides a delivery service to part of the Chicago area. We spoke with Freeman regarding an easy treat recipe pet owners can make for their four-legged friends, as well as tips on preparing snacks for pets.

Zucchini Treats

“Zucchini makes a wonderful treat and snack. It’s also made of a lot of water. When you cook the zucchini, it will shrink,” Freeman said, adding that he does not put any flavorings or seasonings on the zucchini. He also pointed out the treat is “incredibly nutritious. It’s a low calorie snack, so it gives you and your dog something to chew.”


1. One zucchini, washed thoroughly


“Set your oven to the lowest temperature that you can,” Freeman said, such as 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut zucchini into slices, keeping in mind the thinner the slices, the faster they will dry. Freeman suggested using caution when cutting the zucchini, especially when using a sharp knife. Do not peel the skin of the zucchini. Place the slices on a cookie sheet, and place in the oven. Freeman advised checking the treats about once per hour to see if they are crispy. If the treat bends, it’s not done; if it cracks, it’s done and ready to be removed from the oven. Depending on how thin you sliced the zucchini, it might take about four hours before the slices are crispy. Let the treats cool completely before giving them to your dog.

Consult Your Pet’s Vet

Don’t preheat your oven and start marking treats just yet. Freeman advised consulting your pet’s veterinarian before introducing new treats. “It would be good to talk to a vet or pet nutritionist, especially if your dog has allergies, before trying new treats,” he said. “You have to be cognizant that not all fruits and vegetables are good for dogs, and some parts of fruit and vegetables aren’t good for dogs.”

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Store Treats Correctly

Freeman advised keeping the zucchini treats in Tupperware container or in a plastic bag. Store the treats in a dry place out of sunlight, such as in the pantry, and keep them out of the refrigerator. “If water gets in them, they’re not healthy,” he said.

Modify The Treat Size

You can modify the treat so that it is the best size for your dog. Freeman advised cutting the treats into thin slices, or breaking the treats into smaller pieces, especially if you plan to serve them to a small dog.

Read The Fine Print

If you’d prefer to purchase premade treats for your pet, you should still read the ingredients list. “When it comes to treats, a lot of people pay close attention to the food, but little to no attention to treats. It’s just as important to read the ingredient labels and see what’s in there,” Freeman said. “You might find ingredients that aren’t good for your dog. You have to be careful with what’s contained in the treat, especially for a dog with a sensitive stomach or allergy,” he said.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.