My answer to this question is an enthusiastic yes! But before we get to the fun part, there's a few caveats to get out of the way first:
Don't feed your dog fatty scraps, such as fatty meat trimmings, bacon rinds, leftover cheese, nuts or nut butters, chips/fries or crisps, or other high fat foods. Feeding fatty treats has been associated with an increased risk of pancreatitis, so this is definitely a bad idea.
Don't feed anything poisonous. Grapes, currants, raisins, garlic, onion, chocolate, macadamias, mouldy foods, or anything containing alcohol are all potentially harmful. If in doubt, check first.
Don't feed highly processed foods. Stale three-day-old donuts are best chucked into the bin, not into your dog.
Manners please. If you are going to feed your dog kitchen scraps, it's probably advisable to do so before or after your own meal. In our household, all treats have to be earned, and begging during meals is an irritating no-no.
So what can you feed your dog? There's certainly lots of possibilities. What is particularly good is that not only can you give your dog some nutritious additional foods, but you can also minimise your food waste as well.
So, here's five ideas for ways to turn leftover food scraps into some tasty treats for your dog:
1) Roasted apple peel crisps
The next time you're making an apple pie, or apple crumble, don't throw away the peels. Pop them on a non-stick tray and bake in the oven at 200 C for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, as they can burn easily. Why feed apple peels as treats? They contain fibre, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, quercetin and many more beneficial compounds - in fact, a lot of the nutritional value of an apple is in the peel!
2) Kiwi fruit peel cups
Kiwi fruit are actually completely edible, including the skin! If you find the fuzziness less than delicious though, see if your dog fancies it. Wash the fruit well, then cut the kiwis in half and scoop out the fruit, leaving the empty peel cups. If you want to, pop a scoop of natural yoghurt, cottage cheese or mashed banana into the cups, and offer as a treat outside. Kiwi fruit peel is very high in fibre, folate and vitamin E.
3) Broccoli stem bites
If you prefer the broccoli florets to the stem (like I do!) you can chop the stem up and bake it in the oven to quickly make some tasty treats. Toss the pieces in a little olive oil, and bake on a non-stick tray at 220 C for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Like the florets, broccoli stems are rich in calcium, iron, beta-carotene, potassium, and magnesium.
4) Sweet potato skin chips
Scrub the sweet potatoes before you peel them. Drizzle the peels with a little olive oil and bake at 200 C for 25 minutes or so. Sweet potato skin is rich in fibre, potassium, manganese and magnesium, so it makes a nutritious and tasty treats for both dogs and their owners!
5) Strawberry tops
Strawberry leaves are completely edible. Similar to many leafy greens, they are high in vitamin C and potassium, as well as a diverse range of polyphenols. However, I don't love leaves in my morning muesli, so after washing the berries, I remove the strawberry tops and feed a few fresh with my dog's breakfast, or as training treats.
We hope that gives you a few ideas - if you would like more information on personalised treat recipes or therapeutic nutrition please get in touch: email@example.com
There's no need to bake the broccoli stem in the oven, Willow loves the whole thing!