As an avid dog person, I have many favorite “pet related holidays,” but I recently discovered one that I am sure would be an absolute favorite with our four-legged companions—International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Week which happens to be this week. I spent much time researching this holiday, but never did find the creator, or its origin..if any of you have any info on this grand week, please contact us, okay? Dog biscuits have been around since Roman times, and were probably very old, hard, stale bread. Back then “bad bread” was considered “dog’s bread,” and dogs of that time were probably happy to get them. By the 19th century, hunters started giving their sporting dogs homemade hard barley meal biscuits for energy on a hunt. Then they were upgraded to include vegetables, meat and bone meal..no fancy “fun flavors or shapes”, but healthy ingredients. According to Wikipedia, James Spratt, an electrician from Cincinnati, was the first large-scale manufacturer of dog biscuits. In 1860, Spratt had observed a pack of dogs crunching on the cheap, rock-hard biscuits sailors of that day ate, and was inspired to create Spratt’s Patented Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes. Spratt pioneered the concept of animal life stages with appropriate foods for each stage, The company became a relentless advertiser, and successfully promoted their array of products through the marketing technique of snob appeal.
In the l950’s, General mills acquired Spratt’s US business, and as dogs evolved into beloved companions and family members, so has the humble dog biscuit evolved. Most caregivers regularly dole treats to their canine companions, and it is true that treats are a great reward for appropriate behavior, but it is important to realize that commercial dog treats do not have to meet any nutritional requirement, which means that it is the responsibility of the humans to choose healthy treats…and there are VERY FEW healthy commercial treats. Before you buy commercial treats, check the ingredient list. Good treats should NOT contain:
- *animal by-products…this term can mean almost anything
- *artificial colors…your dog doesn’t care what color his food is, and he doesn’t need exposure to unnecessary chemicals. (and green, red, orange, and yellow treats contain dyes!)
- *artificial or low quality taste enhancers such as corn syrup or sucrose and artificial flavoring such as barbecue or smoke flavor
- *artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or Ethoxyquin
- *propylene glycol, a chemical added to make some treats more “chewy” and moist.
Check the packaging of any commercial treat for the country of origin. Check carefully, because on close inspection, some treats labeled “Made in the USA” may have ingredients from other countries. Country of origin labeling laws require only that products be put together here to make the “Made in America” claim. Needless to say, this marketing ploy to instill confidence in consumers has had some tragic results. Please avoid any treats made in China, or have ingredients that may come from there. FDA warnings on treats imported from China are issued on a regular basis. (For updated information, go to www. fda.gov. and click on pet food recalls.) We suggest that you don’t buy any commercial treats…most of them are unhealthy ! Here’s a quick and easy homemade dog treat recipe:
PEANUT BUTTER-OATMEAL TREATS
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup peanut butter (either creamy or chunky)
- 1 ¼ cups hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix in the peanut butter and hot water. Mix well.. Pinch off small bites of dough, place on greased cookie sheet, make a cross hatch fork mark on each one (the same way you would do for human peanut butter cookies.) Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and let them cool overnight….if your dog can’t wait that long, just cool them and serve. (leaving them overnight, the cookies get very hard, just the way the dogs like them!)
Larsen can be contacted at Paw Prints, Box 373, Newell, Iowa 50568 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.